As the Family Goes

JP II Quote

"As the family goes, so goes the nation, and so goes the whole world in which we live." John Paul II

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Happy Right Here

I've been thinking a lot this week about the choices we make, and being deliberate in the life we live. This is March break for the school kids in our area, and for the first time in my four years of homeschooling we are not taking the time off.  A fact that would have happily gone unnoticed by my children, but for the announcement their violin teacher made at the end of the week that there would be no classes during the March break.  My kids' ears perked up and the conversation began almost immediately. "Do we have to do school next week?"  My answer was that yes, we did - a fact they were not, as you can imagine, overly thrilled about. One child in particular fell into a deep but short-lived depression over the whole thing (as can sometimes afflict unsuspecting elementary school children who've had a week off dangled in front of them and then swiftly removed.)

The first two years I had them home I wanted to keep schooling over March break, like a good keen, new homeschooling Mama. But when I woke up that first Monday morning with the thought in my head that no child in my near vicinity was going to school that morning, feeling drunk with the early-morning haze that is so often my downfall, I said "to heck with it - we're taking March break!". So when I sat down to plan out the last school year, I decided it was best to just acknowledge the fact that yes, we need a break, and March break is as good a time as any to take it.  And we did, and we had a good time.  It was only when Easter came that I had second thoughts about the way our week off had played out.  A friend of mine had opted instead to work through the March break and take the week following Easter off with her family, and I have to admit I was a bit envious.  There she was with one of the greatest reasons in the world to celebrate - the biggest feast on the Church calendar! - and while my crew and I got a measly two days to celebrate before getting back to the grind on Tuesday, she had planned to be off for the entire week.  We had taken our time off when it was still snowy, and generally not easy to get around.  Why?  Simply because everyone else did.  I'm not knocking March break - I think we all need a break.  But what I failed to grasp until that point in time was that just because everyone else was doing it, didn't mean we needed to.  That if there was something that was more meaningful to our family, we had complete freedom to change our schedule to fit us - isn't that what we're already doing when we choose to homeschool in the first place?

After the initial disappointment the week got started without a hitch, and honestly my kids are coping beautifully.  I explained to them that they could work as fast as they wanted to get their work done early, so that they would still have plenty of time to play with their neighborhood friend who would be off school (their chief concern!).  And as it turns out, we haven't really seen much of him anyway.  Because like any other kid of his age, he's got plans for March break - and they don't include staying home for the duration.  Also, the weather this year is pretty lousy.  We've had record snowfalls this year, and it would be pretty miserable bringing very children young children out and about in this weather.  And the icing on the cake?  Our kids have been sick.  A terrible chest cold struck our second youngest Monday through the night and has been slowly making the rounds, leaving whoever happens to be afflicted out of commission for a good couple of days. If we had taken this week off, what would it have been for?  To stay inside and out of the cold.  To play with the neighborhood friend who hasn't been home all week.  And to be too sick to do anything in town, even if we had decided to venture out in the weather.  No - I'm glad we took the time to think this through and do what works for us.  And I'm looking forward to being off for a week when (please God!) the weather is nicer, it's not Lent, and we have the best reason to celebrate - the Resurrection of the Lord!

As I sat at the whiteboard this afternoon, late with my classes because my Mom (who had just arrived home from a trip to Cuba with my Dad last week) called to chat, it hit me more than ever how much freedom comes with deciding to what's best for you for the right reasons.  Because that's the beauty of homeschooling - it's flexible.  It can take a few extra moments to talk to someone you love and still work itself out at the end of the day.  It can move a week off from a time in the year that doesn't really work for you to another time that really, truly does. And most importantly of all, it puts so many opportunities in my path for me to connect with my children, regardless of what life throws at me.  Sure, it's hard.  And it's getting harder as they get older and their material gets more complicated.  But I have never felt more confident in what we are doing as a family than I do at this moment.  I had a first-hand opportunity this week to show my children that doing something just because everyone else is doing it isn't always the best way to approach life.  I had the opportunity to show them that you can be joyful in your work, even when it seems that everyone else is on vacation.  I had the opportunity to talk about Lent and sacrifice, why we give things up at certain times of the year in order to make other, more important events that much more joyful.  But best of all, I had the chance to work through all of this with all of them, and I couldn't be more grateful for this place in life, that has me working side-by-side with my children.  This life is a true joy, and I wouldn't trade it for anything.  I am so happy the Lord has given all of this to me, and I pray that as time goes on and responsibilities become greater, that He will help me to see the true blessing of work, of deliberate decision-making, of sacrifice and of celebration.

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