When I first began full-time last year, I was easily spending five to six hours daily on preparing, prepping, organizing and simply finding information. Then I was creating all of my own worksheets and assignments. Combine that with the actual time spent learning and teaching together, and I think it's fairly obvious to guess what soon followed: complete and total burnout.
Through tears and confusion, I confessed to my husband that I had bitten off more than I could chew. I couldn't handle it, wasn't equipped for it, and honestly, the thought of spending those countless hours in a constant state of rigid planning and overseeing threatened to undo me completely. The rewards were few, the tensions skyrocketed.
I was ready to quit, but I just couldn't. Our private schools are so few, and none of them is a great fit, and our public schools have taken quite the downward spiral in recent years. It's so, so sad. Two of our children don't like taking online classes. This doesn't leave me with loads of options. I continued to pray about it all, trusting that whatever in my heart needed fixing or softening would be fixed and softened, and that I could move forward in peace with something, at least.
After several fruitful conversations with other homeschooling friends about what worked for them, we decided that we'd go ahead and purchase some curriculum, something I hadn't wanted to do because I was afraid it would be money poorly spent, that I wouldn't like them. After browsing sites for a month (or more!), creating detailed lists of pros and cons, I reluctantly settled on one. I scoured eBay to find lots of the suggested supplemental items and materials. Sure, we had fun last summer, but in my mind it will always be replayed as that summer I sat at the computer (or with one on my lap) on the hunt for the best homeschool materials.
Well, the materials finally came. And I knew immediately that I hated almost everything. And, they had cost a pretty penny.
I was heartbroken.
By the end of September, I'd ditched the curriculum entirely. It was a terrible fit, nobody enjoyed it, I was sour thinking about the wasted time and money. I became angry and sullen, and I was in the middle of trying to deal with a personal devastation, sewing orders were coming in left and right- which is great, but time was something I didn't have. I arranged for the two younger boys to attend math and science classes at the local school at the end of October, and they loved it. They were excited again. Within two weeks, we enrolled them full time.
To say that I didn't walk around my home, truly enjoying the quiet for days on end, would be a lie. The pressure was lifted. I could breathe a little easier again. I smiled more. I met up with friends for coffee or lunch. (Ethan is a completely independent learner and doesn't need me for much instruction; plus, he's also very responsible.) But soon the quiet grew too loud, the newness of school wore off, and we were all missing each other. More changes ensued, and now we have quite the assortment of full-time and part-time homeschooling.
There will be even more changes next year (well, this summer, since we do light work in the summer), but I'm confident that they will work out. I'm learning to trust the instincts that God has given me in regards to what works for us and what doesn't, but if I'm being completely honest, I'm still quite baffled by the whole thing/process/situation. Bottom line is: I love my children and want the very best for them; I want to know them in a way that I've never felt known by my parents (I love my parents!); I don't want to waste my days with them because they are truly so fleeting.
I wrestle with guilt every single day. I wonder if I'm enough every single day. I struggle with it all, every single day. I know this is not how the Lord wants me to continue, and it is only through Him that I'm capable in the first place. My prayer is simply that where He leads me, I will follow. And that, truthfully, is where joy springs forth and peace prevails.
Spring is finally settling in around here. Yesterday I had three loads of laundry hanging out on the line! These lilacs aren't in bloom quite yet, but like the rebirth of the earth and trees and flowers, they hold such hope in the things yet to come. That's how I want to look ahead to our years together: filled with the hope of all that is to come.
Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a longing fulfilled is a tree of life.