Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Slowing Down and Teaching From Rest

"last day of school" 2016

We "officially" ended our first "official" year of homeschooling a couple weeks ago.  It went well, overall, and gave me a good - though small - taste of what I've actually gotten myself into here.  Overall verdict: this is going to require a ton of self-discipline, on my part, to make time for what's important each day....and not using homeschooling as an excuse to laze around the house all morning.

It seems that in the weeks before our school year came to an end, all the dozens of other activities and groups the kids and myself were involved in had ended as well.  I didn't realize how busy we had been until suddenly I saw myself looking at a full week on the calendar with nothing planned. It's forced us to slow down our usual pace, and find new ways to occupy ourselves.  

picking black raspberries
I'm trying to seize this opportunity to teach myself to slow down and just live - with intentionality - in the moment.  To pause and allow myself to take delight in my children and (perhaps even tougher) my husband.  It's really hard.  And I've failed at it more often than I've succeeded.  I am definitely a "Martha" and not a "Mary" - always wanting to keep busy, getting things done, and nagging everyone around me to make sure they are doing their fair share of keeping busy in the exact way I've determined they should!

I just finished reading Teaching From Rest, and what an inspiring read that was!  A short little book, but such a breath of fresh air.  I'd been spending the weeks since we ended our school year doing endless research and stressing over what the heck we should do next year for Sly's education, as he'll be starting first grade.  If I could sum up the book very briefly, the message is "Chill the heck out, Mama.  All those things you're worried about aren't actually a big deal.  Here's how you should be living your life.  Here's what your vocation is requiring of you."  I would not be surprised if I end up re-reading the book maybe every six months or so.  I know I'll probably need it!

Stella, loving a bit too tightly on a "baby caterpiller" she caught

The other day, I was washing the dishes.  Stella was in the kitchen with me, and began crying about something.  I can't remember what it was, but it was something I determined to be completely ridiculous.  As she usually does when her emotions get the best of her, she was asking me to hold her - "I want you, Mommy!" is how she says it.  And as usual, I was brushing off her feelings, and telling her there was nothing to cry about and if she wanted to be held, she'd have to wait until I was done with what I was doing.  Telling her, in other words, that she was less important to me than a few dishes sitting in the sink.

But I remembered some of what I'd been reading in the book, and realized that - unnecessary as her tears might be - she truly needed me to respond to her and love her at that moment.  And I knew that this need which was presenting itself to me was what God was asking me to do at that moment.  To tend to the soul of my child, instead of some stupid dishes - that was what was most important.  So I turned off the faucet, and picked her up.  I gave her a hug and some tender words, and in just a short time, she was all better.  And we were both left feeling love for one another - rather than rejection on her part, and annoyance on mine, as has too often been the case in the past.