Back to school is early in Illinois (mid August) but it makes me think Fall thoughts.
After a summer of playing in the sprinkler, eating drippy popcicles on the patio, and watching movies in the cool air conditioning during the heat of the day I am ready for the next season. It's much less sweaty for this pregnant woman.
I'm pretty pumped about autumn and what that means in my part of the country. I can't wait to get the autumn decorations out, but I'm also feeling a little emotional - just like I did when L started school. The same kiddos who went to school last year will be in school again this year, but Ben is now beginning kindergarten with the official school uniform and full school day. There's so much I want for all my kids, but this just about sums it up:
As much as I am getting misty-eyed over milestones, I am also remembering that the schedule and rhythm school brings to our home is a huge gift for me - it is freeing for me. That's one of the things I learned in Kindergarten:
More than anything, what I learned in kindergarten, after two years of pathetic attempts at super basic "homeschool" preschool (we're talking letter, shape, and number recognition here along with a little catechism), is that I need structure and I am really bad at giving it to myself. Our days ran so much more smoothly when the school day made us get up, get dressed, and be out the door by a certain time. Our home was immeasurably more peaceful following the school day routine. And perhaps most importantly I thrived with that schedule. Thrived.
I am " interested in educating and building up [my] children, family, and community through traditional school," and I'm seeing that happen in our family's life now, which is really wonderful.
At this time of year I see a lot of my friends beginning their homeschooling. My good friend Grete is in week 3 because my good friend Grete has got her act together! Sometimes I look at her life and her amazing kiddos and the wonderful things they are able to do and... I am so happy for them while not wanting that life at all. (Which I say with a laugh and confidence that Grete would laugh too. Or at least smile. Perhaps while shaking her head at me.) I've seen how the schooling choices they've made over the years have really blessed their family and I feel like I've watched my friend become a better and more truer version of herself.
It's been really beautiful and totally a flipped birdie to the Mommy Wars that her parenting choice has been so different than mine and yet we are both so happy in our vocations and homes, and we are friends.
Once I wrote about not homeschooling:
Having the desire for be part of a traditional school community, to have time to volunteer in your community, to create or work, and then using the time while your kids are at school to do those things doesn't mean you're selfish or that you care less for your children. God has gifted you with certain talents, convictions, and holy desires - be who He has made you to be and you will set the world on fire.
I 100% believe that is true, and it's been a gift for me to have the hours of the school days to spend more time with my littles, to work on and create things that I love, and to try to serve our parish, friends, and family. But I also want to stress that that's what works for me and you should see Grete and all the things she is able to accomplish.
Back to school time can be such a beautiful testament to the fact that God has made us each unique, that there are seasons in our lives, that we have been gifted with different talents and strengths, that we are all on a path towards holiness, and that when we embrace those things our lives will look splendidly different but equally good.
Today two of my kiddos have their first day of school with another beginning mid-week. I'll be laying low in internetland over the next couple of weeks, tackling various projects and obligations and helping my cranky, hot, tired, hungry kids re-adjust to the school year. By September we will be on a roll so you'll see more of me then. Have fun, keep cool, and be good. ;)
Tangent in question form: Do you think it's okay if I get out the lovely fall decorations for the August 22nd Blessed Brunch I'm hosting? I have a rule (that I usually break) of no fall decorations before September 1st... What do you think?