Dear Homeschool Momma with lots of Littles,
I see you.
I see you rushing into the co-op meeting carrying two babies and a diaper bag in your arms while dragging a crying toddler behind you.
I see the look of embarrassment and exasperation that you try to hide behind a well-rehearsed smile.
I see you heave a sigh as you sit on the bench nursing your baby during a field trip while silently praying your other children won't wander out of reach.
I see you at the library trying to corral four sets of grabbing hands and one baby well-past-his-nap as you scour the shelves for a few good books.
I see you avoiding eye contact with others as your push the shopping cart bus through the store hoping to make it through without the whispers and finger-pointing of those who don't know why "anyone would want to have so many children."
I see that under your squared shoulders and resolute determination, you are tired. You are weary. You are worn thin.
I see you because I was you.
In the not so distant past, I was the homeschool mom with four littles under the age of five. (I eventually went on to have one more but by then, the gap was a bit wider...five under eight and oh.so.much. easier to manage.) I had one moving from kindergarten to first grade and I so desperately wanted to be the "good homeschool mom" for her sake. To provide her with those memorable "firsts" that all the other homeschool mommas talked about.
I wanted to plan the unit studies and make the lapbooks.
I wanted to take the field trips and create the art projects.
I wanted to do all the worthwhile things that make learning worth learning.
But, I couldn't.
I was outnumbered...surrounded by LITTLE people and BIG messes.
That living-on-two-hours-of-sleep-and-twleve-cups-of-coffee season of lots of littles is mostly a blur at this point. But the one thing I can keenly remember about those days each time I see you drive up to the homeschool park day with a van crowded with car seats is how hard it was and how at the time I desperately wanted someone...anyone...to understand the hard-ness of it all.
In those days, I was surrounded by veteran homeschoolers who each had one or two kids or whose many children were spaced far enough apart to allow for a slow-and-steady start to the journey. I have no doubt, those mommas had their own daily struggles because homeschooling is nothing if not a daily refinement. But their hurdles were different from mine. It was apples and oranges. I wanted to somehow pull all my "crazy" together and do homeschool like THEY had done it.
So many days felt like one hot mess of chaos after another.
I didn't have enough arms...enough eyes...enough time...enough energy.
They were quick to offer expert opinions and well-intentioned advice. But, the fact of the matter is, I wasn't looking for a "perfect" plan to create the-best-homeschool-day-ever.
I wasn't looking for a banner or a trophy. Or a parade in my honor.
I just needed a little solidarity from someone who had walked this same difficult road. I needed someone to show me the sacred in the mundane and remind me that there are miracles to be found in all the monotony of caring for lots of small people.
Well, sweet momma, I see you.
I see you spinning all those plates. I see you holding your breath hoping they don't all come crashing down. I see you carrying around the weight of the illusive "perfect" homeschool day.
I see you.
I won't offer you advice. That's not what you need.
I won't point out all the shoulda, coulda, woulda's...you do enough of that to yourself already.
I'll only say this...
You will make it.
You can do it.
And what's more...you will look back on these days of my-homeschool-feels-like-a-blender-with-the-cap-off with fondness.
I know it doesn't seem like it now.
Right now you are having trouble seeing past this very moment of deafening noise and constant motion.
Right now you are just hoping to salvage each and every day.
Right now you are trying to convince yourself NOT to huddle in the corner to cry.
But, trust me. Fondness will find its way into your memories of today.
Recently, while looking through old photographs of those early homeschooling days, I was reminded of the beauty that only comes with hindsight.
When I sifted through all those pictures, I didn't see the Sharpie marker that suddenly found its way to my bedspread and curtains and carpet during art time one day. I didn't see the store display shelf knocked over by a very curious tot during a spontaneous field trip. I didn't see the library book pages cut out by a boy who just learned to use his scissors.
I just saw this.
The smiling faces of kids who were learning and growing and loving each other.
And my daughter?...the one I was so worried I was failing because I couldn't seem to provide even one "normal" day for her? She's kind, and compassionate, smart, and determined.
She learned patience when it couldn't always be done "this very moment."She learned gentleness when she had to help rock a crying baby.
She learned forgiveness when she had to start a project all over again.
She learned independence when she had to find the answer without my help.
|Helping little brother create a page in his nature notebook by spelling words for him.|
It's true what they say about raising children...the days are long, but the years are short.
Sweet homeschool momma trying to do "good" with lots of littles, you, too, will look back and see smiling faces. You, too, will be able to enjoy the beauty and wonder of hindsight. And in the meantime, remember this...
I see you.
I know it's hard. Really hard.
But, God's got this. He's got you. He's got them.
For more encouragement for the hard days, be sure to visit iHomeschool Network.