Saturday, October 25, 2014

What's the point?

What defines a person? A life? Is it the money you make? The car you drive? How involved you are in your community? How well behaved your children are? Your ability to adapt to the current trends and styles? The list goes on and on.

Life is interesting. We live in a time of instant gratification. I can find out breaking news, what is trending on twitter, and that famous grandma's secret recipe with push of a few buttons. If I want to know something, I can search google and get all my answers. Or can I? What is the meaning of life? When I searched that in google, there were over 388,000,000 responses. Hundreds of millions, claiming to have the answer to that question that has haunted human minds back to the beginning of our existence. 

Sometimes I wonder, "what is the point?" I struggle at times with worrying about what others think of me. Is my house clean enough? {it's for sure NOT} Are my kids viewed as well-behaved? {sometimes: yes, sometimes: no} How do I get to where I want to be? It seems that life is constantly throwing new curve balls, and unexpected things my way. Not all necessarily bad things; life is just not what I expected.

We moved a year and a half ago. Away from everything familiar. Away from my childhood stomping grounds. Away from places that held memories of when my husband and I dated. Away from huge historical landmarks of the first years of our children's lives...and for what? For the first couple of years we threw the idea around of moving, I didn't like it one bit. Why did we have to leave such a wonderful place?

I love where we lived before. It is known for being one of the best places to raise kids in California, and even in the nation. I had lived there since I was less than 2 years old. But as I am now away from it all, I realize what a chaotic lifestyle we had there. It seems that many people have that type of lifestyle there, and everywhere else in society nowadays. Many other mom's take their kids to school, go to work, go back and pick their kids up from child care, drive through Mac Donald's for dinner, rush them to his/her ballet or football practice, help with his/her homework, and get him/her in bed. Then, you wake up, repeat...except Wednesday nights are AWANA or gymnastics...or you may actually have a night or two per week to eat at home as a family. Except daddy. He's still at work. He usually gets home around 7 or 7:30, just in time to say his good nights to his little loves. Lord bless them for working so hard so we can have such a nice house, in a nice neighborhood, and not deprive our kids of the awesome things like sports and fancy vacations. We're living the American Dream at it's finest. 

Moving "away from it all" has caused some changes for us. We're homeschooling. If you would have told me that a year ago, I would have laughed. Literally. It was totally off my radar. My husband's desire for it threw me for a loop. Are we going to be one of those families? I was counting on JJ going to school and having him "out of my hair". Then I could volunteer in my daughter's class as often as I wanted, and be the room mom. And I was going to actually have a clean house. And maybe work out. Yes. Definitely need to do that. There was so much I had planned for this "down time". The Lord quickly changed my heart. When the time came for JJ to start school, I couldn't imagine it any other way. To be honest, I didn't like the idea of only having him from 3ish to 7:30 {bedtime}. I had mixed reviews from family and friends about the possibility of us homeschooling. People would say, "Have your really thought it through? Are you sure you really want to do that?" Or flat out, "I don't think that is a good idea." I had to develop a bit of a thicker skin.

I'm finally the primary care giver of my kids and, I frankly didn't want to give it up so easily. Don't get me wrong...there are definitely moments I wish I could have some down time without the kids, but they are usually for totally selfish motives. So I could have a break. So I could treat myself to coffee. So I could get my body back in shape. Imagine all the things I can do, once the kids are both in school! It would feel like Christmas everyday!

This idea of homeschooling that was laid on my husband heart so abruptly...I didn't like it. It would ruin all my plans. And I'm so glad it did! I am so blessed to have a husband that isn't afraid to make the hard decisions that I may not like at first. I am blessed to have a husband that doesn't care what family or friends think. I'm blessed to have a husband that will gently help me see that it was our Great Creator that laid this on his heart. For me to teach our kids. Yes, I have a lot of experience and education in the field of Early Childhood Education, but does he know who I am? I'm not a qualified teacher. Nope. I'm not. I'm a mom devoted to teaching our kids about life: math, science, language arts, history, phonics, music, gardening, housekeeping, cooking, baking, how to take care of our pets, and what do to when the toilet overflows. I want to teach them well, and teach them more than they would learn in traditional school.

Let me interject here, and say that I am totally okay with public schooling. I worked in a wonderful school district for nearly 13 years. There are so many great teachers and programs out there! For us, it wasn't about the school district not meeting our standards. We actually have a wonderful school district that we're been so happy with, as our kids have attended the state preschool program. Home schooling is not for everyone. For us, it was about them being with me everyday.

One of the ways I really want to enrich them is spiritually. It has been really heavy on my heart. Taking them to AWANA once a week and church on Sundays are all good places to start. But, frankly, it isn't the church's responsibility to grow our kids spiritually. If we as parents aren't helping them grow spiritually, who will? We are blessed.  Both of our kids professed to be sinners, and asked Jesus to wash their sins away by the power of the blood he shed on the cross for them. Now, it's my job to help them learn about the Bible. It's pretty much what it's all about. When we have a discipline issue, we ask questions like, "What does the Bible say about this?" or "How does God say we should act in this situation?" I feel blessed that they both profess the Lord, because parenting totally comes back to building them spiritually. 

Any of you that know us well know that our kids are about as energetic as they come. And they're like that pretty much all day long. I have recently been so worried and consumed with what others think about our kids. There have been comments made, or just weird looks. It's been a bit hard for me to have a thick skin when it comes to my kids. I realized something recently. I worked with kids for over 13 years. Everyday. Preschool through sixth grade. And also served on Jr. High and High School staff. I've seen a lot. I realize that I have the ability to look at any child and see some good in them. I had some pretty interesting kids with different needs and abilities, but I have an ability to see more than what meets the eye in them. This may not be the norm.

I realized in my own heart, that I was afraid that people would look at our kids and  only see our kids as really energetic...That's a nice way of saying hyper, crazy, wild, or misbehaved. I was afraid that they would miss all of the absolutely amazing things about them. Like how my daughter is so comforting to people hurting or in need. She also has a love for people and animals; such gentleness about her. Like how my son is always thinking of others-especially his sister.  He is a very thoughtful boy. They are both really smart, and love to create. I have made it a goal to help bring out the best in them, and help them learn to correct and adapt the parts of them that need to be changed, as they grow and mature.

With my background, I have the curse {or blessing} of thinking about what is developmentally appropriate for kids. Many times, we adults think kids should be able to do certain things when frankly it is totally developmentally inappropriate for them. A good rule of thumb is one minute per year. If a child is 4, he/she shouldn't be expected to sit still and quiet for more than 4 minutes. For a 5 year old, five minutes. Some kids can sit for 45 minutes quietly...I see kids at our church do it every week. Not my kids. Not yet at least. Does that mean they're bad kids? Or misbehaved? Nope. It means they're 4 and 5 years old. I am always trying to think about activities I can do to help my kids grow and mature in their self-control. I just want people to stop and think...If you were asked to stand in a line quietly {with all your friends} and not talk or move, could you do it? I could. For about a minute...but then I'd be talking to people behind or in front of me. So why are we expecting kids to be able to do it?

Please make sure you don't misread my heart or thoughts. Kids need to be disciplined, and need to learn self control. I am just saying that there is a lot to be said about actually taking the time to learn about kids...before you jump to judging others ability to parent. I am no expert. I am just someone who understands that every child is different and develops at his own rate. We should be showing grace to one another; not judging one another. We should all be in this together, helping and encouraging one another. If you see a mom struggling, tell her she's doing a good job. Tell her you see her efforts. These things take time.

My kids' energy is a challenge. Mainly, because I rarely have energy of my own. Oh, how I wish I could bottle up some of theirs and take a shot each morning! One of the things I am so thankful for is the fact that I will be with them during the day. If anyone is going to get annoyed or frustrated with their crazy amount of energy, I am so glad it's me...because I love them! And, I can give them extra breaks, or extra P.E. time. I can learn how they learn the best. After doing this for only a couple of months, I can very confidently say it is probably the hardest job I've ever had. Being a home school mom. It's tough. There are no breaks. It would be so much easier to just drop them off to school and be done with it. But, I feel honored to have this opportunity. This is my job now. It is "the point" of life for me at the moment. Raising them to the best of my ability; helping them learn about what life is truly all about.

 I am so richly blessed that my kids are my daily work.


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Our Hope and Peace...

"For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus. " Philippians 1:6