A wise person I know once said, “You need to know why you’re homeschooling, or you won’t last long.” I’ve thought about that several times over the past eleven years. In our early homeschool days, I thought I knew. Our girls were relatively easy to teach, eager to learn, and were both above average students. The hardest part was never the schooling; it was the heart issues, the power struggles, the sin. I thought I had it figured out for the most part. But after year seven, we took a road trip to South Dakota and it was then that I realized I had no idea what I was doing or why.
I walked into the intensive care room to see my dad lying in the bed. IVs and monitors with alarms sounding every few minutes. His complexion was pallid, grey. And when he awoke, I told him I was thankful he was still here. A stent had been placed in his artery after a blockage stopped his heart just a few hours before, and yet his prognosis was tentatively good. After many hours, many tests, and several medications, he was stable. They said he was lucky. I knew his time had not yet come.
Our oldest daughter loves to shop for clothes. She got it from me and my mother would say it’s payback for the hundreds of trips to the mall I required her take over my teen years. As you’d guess, she’s quite keen on the latest fashion trends and has honed her own unique style over the years. As you’d also imagine, shopping with a teen girl is much like walking through a minefield, where you have to choose your options carefully. So, as we were browsing the racks at H&M last Sunday and as she was picking out a few things to try on, we had a typical me / her conversation.
Her: I’ve been wanting a skirt like this, but I’m not sure if it will be too short.
Me: I think I owned that in 1987. (I say that a lot lately.) But, it’s cute, so try it on. If it’s cut well, it won’t ride up in the back and show your butt.
She tries it on and it’s borderline too short, so,
Me: I think it’s ok, but your dad gets to decide.
Her. Ok, I’ll get it and return it if he says no.
No drama. No throwing a fit because he might say no. And no wanting a lot of the other things we looked at that day, because she knows her worth. I’ve been teaching it to her since she was 3.
I was next in line at the Starbucks in Target. And as I was wandering a thousand miles away, thinking of events that had unfolded earlier today, the barista leaned over and said, “I’ll be right with you, Brenda.” She knew my name. More than that, she remembered me. I hadn’t stood in that line in months, opting instead to hit up the drive thru on the way home from Zeke’s school or church, lest you think my Starbucks habit is improving. Yet, she remembered. And that spoke volumes to my weary soul.
I sat holding Zeke in the backseat of my car as the sun was setting outside and the light was waning in the garage. It was quiet, aside from his heavy sighs as the tears fell down his cheeks onto my jacket. His sadness was a mixture of things too complicated for him to possibly understand and things so common to all of us. He was brave all day at school – his last day at school – and now he could just be. I crawled into his seat with him and held him as he cried. Telling him tears are ok. Being sad is ok. He could feel all the hurt of saying goodbye to his teacher and his friends, and I could feel it too. And I wished, once again I wished it could be different for him. That everything could be easier. That he could be just like the other kids. Typical, without so many struggles and needs.