It's been raining for a few days, my newly planted herbs and lettuces are happy. My joints and muscles....not so much. But the rain makes me reflective. It washes things anew and brings with it great possibilities.
The kids have finished up all their homeschool lessons which means an extended, welcome break over the summer. Some things we did well this year yet other goals were elusive (as they are every year) and need rethinking.
Finishing the school year brings me to the lessons learned, not just in homeschooling but in life and the people in it.
1) Whether it's homeschooling or in life, the process or task just doesn't matter in the end. How I treat those completing the task is much more important. Rules, policies, bylaws and guidelines are useless if you don't pay attention to the heart and the people involved.
2) I am not responsible for other people's feelings. Each of us needs to take ownership of our own reactions and motives behind those feelings. What I am responsible for is recognizing hurt and disappointment and making amends when I need to. I expect the same from others.
3) I trust my kids in all their mistakes and accomplishes. My kids talk to me...a lot...about everything. My husband and I have taught them well. They come to us when something is questionable and ask for help. They ask questions about sex, faith, friendship, struggles and joys. That doesn't mean that they don't screw up. And it doesn't mean if they do screw up that I trust them less. It means we talk about it as a family, learn from it and get on with it. But it also means that as parents, we have to let them grow and go and let them make their own mistakes. It also means as parents that we will make mistakes too. God knows, I've made my fair share.
4) Volunteering is important. For me, volunteering is Holy Work. Interpret that however you want. Every single one of us in our family volunteers in some way. Church, homeschool group, community or playground-it is the essense of our family.
5) I CHERISH my homeschool group and Board. These amazing families have supported, loved me, shared ideas, built community, have given me new ways of thinking and yes have even called me on my faults. They do so with kind and loving hearts in ways that can only support me as a person and help me to grow and recognize. That is a gift.
6) I am a superwoman.....to the best of my abilities. Being a mom requires wearing a superhero cape everyday anyway. For most moms (and dads) the cloak is invisible and we see parenting, volunteering, working, homeschooling, serving and giving as just another piece of life's big picture.
7) My marriage comes first in life even before my kids. Shocker to some I know and here's why. This past year, I've learned that working as a team is important. If I don't nourish our marriage, things fall apart quickly. I can't be a wife to my husband and I can't be a mom to our kids if all the pieces of the puzzle don't fit together. Date nights are important. No kids. Just two adults and time to reconnect. My kids are also my life but I can't be my best self if life isn't rounded out with adult needs as well as kids needs. That's not being selfish-that's called self care. My kids know this and understand this and no they don't feel slighted at all. In fact, they notice the difference when I am stressed and haven't been taking care of myself.
My words of advice are this.
- Do the best you can and when you can't, move on. Homeschooling isn't always easy but it is interwoven with life and all it's lessons.
- Relationships matter. Take time to nurture them. They morph and change and grow and sometimes they don't.
- Listen more. Don't just hear what the person is saying but deeply listen. Try to understand hurts, make the effort to fix them if possible.
- Not all relationships are worth fixing. Know in your heart when you have done your best.
- The meaning of life. Yes, I figured that out too. Just connect with people and learn about them. That is holy work too. We were put here to make connections and figure out humanity in all it's complexities. I'll let you know when I figure out what that means.
So honey, when is date night?