It's three weeks into the school year and I'm beginning to realize something... sending my kids to school has nothing to do with them. Or rather, sort of nothing to do with them. Of course there is the obvious- read, write, etc. but truthfully, they could do that here. Maybe at a slower pace or more shittily (I'll coin that word if it hasn't already been taken) but they would learn and be fine and turn out quite nicely.
That wasn't why we sent them in the first place. Life had just become overwhelming in moments and we knew we would all be better off with schooling off the back of moi. But yesterday, I sat in the grass with Joe in my lap and I watched Peter as he ran races across the yard, counting down his ready, set, go and letting him crash into us at the end of the line. It struck me for maybe the first time that the big kids being away at school was mostly for them.
I don't know what your big kids are like but they are, well, big. The are loud and rambunctious and dominating and when they are here the littles follow them around like puppies, soaking up their energy and copying them and getting caught in the crosshairs of their action. And that is a good, necessary part of our family life and I love it.
But I am realizing something I also love, and really cherish, are my quiet days at home with my 4 little ones. The housework is easier to maintain because the ones that can climb into pantries and unload an entire box of crackers are gone. Which leaves me with more time to do things like I did yesterday, without someone else asking me to watch them, or a fight needing to be resolved, or Johnny needing to be told not to do that.
From 3 o'clock on we are all back in that world and I'm tripping over babies in the kitchen as we work through homework and I chop veggies for dinner and we retell stories from the day. But from 8 am till then my house gets quiet. And little slapping feet are thumping along my floors and I can hear them. And I love that.
When the big kids come busting through the doors we are all missing them and ready for everything they've got. I'm finding myself feeling so relaxed in that pre-dinner evening time that used to feel like the one soul-sucking hour of my life. It's not the end of a long, hard day, it's just the end of the second half. And in the middle of that busy afternoon energy I feel just a little bit like Mary, holding the quiet treasures of our day in my heart.
Some people homeschool as a collective and do it well. I even know a few of them and I admire them like crazy. But I know what our homeschool days looked like and it had very little to do with my little ones. Don't you love when a decision for change results in a hidden gift? That's how I feel. I gained a hidden life that I had sort of forgotten was still possible for me. Those quiet days with a few little kids running in the yard. Those days when everyone napped and no one had chores and they were all happy to play in a bucket of water. I am so happy to have gotten that back. Even if it's just for a season. Even if it's just for now.