Just when I figure out how to mother a kindergartner, it seems, I have a first-grader standing before me instead. I have just learned how to love and live with a nine-year-old when the nine-year-old vanishes, leaving a preadolescent in his place. They don't stay still long enough for me to have my fill of them ever, at any stage. "Stop!" I want to shout. "Let's just do it this way for a while, let's stay right here." But the movement is inexorable--up and out, away, into the future.
~ Katrina Kenison, Mitten Strings for God
I have plenty of adorable pictures showcasing my sweet children and our last week of summer together as a family. We celebrated Matt's 30th and Emmitt's 1st birthdays last week and I could spend a whole post on each of them alone, but this week begins another new chapter in our lives. As far as I can predict, our lives will always revolve around the school year starting and ending as the "beginning of the year". I don't mind, in fact, I absolutely love that our seasons seem to fall perfectly in line with our lives. The weather starts to get cooler and the leaves start to turn colors and fall to the ground at the same time that we start setting our alarms a little earlier and gearing up for a new routine, shedding the unnecessary and focusing on what is most important during what seems like less time in each day. I've probably mentioned it before, but I officially resigned from my position as a teacher for the NSSD last March to stay home full time with our kiddos. It was a hard decision to say the least, but I'm thankful for God's provisions and the opportunity I have to be Mommy day in and day out to our two beautiful children.
It was hard to leave Madelyn when she was a baby, but I knew she was in good hands with my mom and sister-in-law. When I found out I was pregnant with Emmitt, I knew it would be even harder to leave both babies for two long days each week and we prayed for direction and felt a peace about me taking a year off. I knew in my heart that a year would fly by and I dreaded coming to an ultimate decision this last March, but again it was clear to both of us that asking for another leave of absence would just be delaying the inevitable - it was best that I resign and embrace this season of life.
It's hard leaving babies, but it's even harder to leave small children who are constantly learning the ways of the world on a daily basis. As wonderful as our family and friends are, no one can teach life like mommies can.
As the days have gotten shorter (again) and our evenings have cooled off faster, the smell of a new school year is in the air. I wish I could say it is easy to let go of a career and job that I love, but it hasn't been. Don't get me wrong, I'm thrilled to be home with our children, but this time of year I'm constantly reminded of all the fun things about teaching. Just thinking about organizing a classroom can literally make me salivate. Seeing work friends after spending summers away from each other is always exciting, and of course the rewards of creating relationships with students and watching them flourish can hardly be captured in words. On the flip side, just like mothering, teaching isn't all roses and chocolates... the days are l.o.n.g., and if they aren't, than a thousand things are left undone and it's hard to get the job done well.
I had a conversation with a friend this weekend that has happened a few times since I resigned last year. It started out with something like, "So what are you going to do this year?" I knew the real answer was a whole list of house chores, changing diapers, etc, etc., but instead I answered with the same thing I have been telling people, I'll sub a few days a month and tutor through the district for a few hours a week. Let's face it, our society has little, if any, respect left for the full time job of mothering, and we all know it's a less than glorified position that comes with zero vacation days and no sick time... but alas, the beautiful reward of sticky hugs and snotty kisses.
Occasionally, you'll hear the opposite from people, what a luxury it is to stay home with your children. Don't get me wrong, I'm extremely grateful to be home full time, but I'm afraid it would only be a luxury if I had a live in maid and full time cook.
Although I generally love playing the frugal game, there are days when I wish so badly we didn't have to buy everything on sale or wash ziploc bags and reuse them (Okay, that's probably just my mom coming through in me...) We've worked so hard to live "debt free", which is one of the main reasons I'm able to stay home now, but it doesn't mean I still don't stress over where the money is going to come from for Matt's next masters' class or what would happen if one of our less-than-new cars dies for good. The comfort of money sends me a false signal that I can take care of all of our burdens by myself; when in reality it wouldn't matter how much money we had stashed away, our God is in control... He's clearly provided for us this far, and I don't doubt He will continue to.
I recently had the opportunity to take a long-term sub job (about 6 weeks) and I wanted to take it SO bad. Mostly for selfish reasons, Halloween party, Christmas party, extra money, getting out of the house, but after prayer and my husband's wise instinct, I turned it down. It was during the middle of basketball season when Matt is gone the most and he really appreciates me being home a lot when he's gone. I completely respect this and I'm glad I was able to lean on his shoulder to make this decision.
So as we begin this new year in life, I'll embrace the most important classroom; the one I have here at home. Our sweet Madelyn is soaking up every word she hears, and even though I'm probably in denial, Emmitt is headed fast down the same road.
This is the thought that should be uppermost on your mind in all you do for your children. In every step you take about them, in every plan, and scheme, and arrangement that concerns them, do not leave out that mighty question, "How will this affect their souls?"
...the chief end of [their lives] is the salvation of [their] soul[s].
~J.C. Ryle, The Duties of Parents