Friday, October 24, 2008

letting go

During weeks like the past one, when there is so much going on in my life, I find myself at a loss for words, and this blog is a blank sheet sticking out of a rusty typewriter.

There are a dozen sheets of paper at my feet, crumpled, with two or three sentences -- at most -- scribbled on each.

It's hard to write about because it's hard to think about and harder still to do. I've spent the last few weeks making A Big Decision, and before I nauseate myself any further with all this drama, I'll just spit it out:

I'm sending my boys to school.

Now, I suppose the two or three of you readers of this blog are now scratching your heads. Come on, Cathy, it's not such a big deal. Everybody goes to school. That's just normal. What is wrong with you?

For our family, going to school is not normal. I've been A Homeschooling Mother (say that with attitude) for over 15 years, and we've been A Homeschooling Family. Homeschooling has been part of our family's identity and culture since my now-married daughters were six and seven years old. Homeschooling has been our cornerstone; we were known in our church family and our larger community as an unusual, intriguing bunch, a little strange perhaps, but wow, look at them go! She's had SEVEN CHILDREN, folks would say, and GET THIS: SHE HOMESCHOOLS, TOO!

And now, I suppose, it's the end of an era, and it's not easy.

It wasn't easy to make this decision, either. As I wrote here, I've been praying and struggling, trying to discern the path I should take. Seeking both success and good fruits, both for myself and my family, I finally turned to an unlikely, largely untapped source of wisdom: my husband. (Smile.)

I am a good Catholic girl after all, one who realizes that God speaks to women through their husbands. I have not felt at peace with homeschooling for some time, and it took my dear Big Man to help me sort it out. Homeschooling has been a great blessing and a gift to our family. I have been so privileged to teach my children (and of course I will continue to be their primary educator.) But I have discovered that the woman I am today is quite different from the gal I was 15 years ago. Today I am humble enough to admit that I just can't do this alone anymore.

I am also willing to admit (again, thank you Big Man) that there are many other things that I want to achieve personally, and I just can't do them while continuing to home school. Believe me, this has caused me a great deal of anguish. I don't want to live selfishly, but I believe God is giving me a season in which I can explore some of my gifts that don't involve my children directly.

This kind of thinking, I know, is not popular in some homeschooling circles. Thankfully I am blessed with a community of friends who are supporting and praying for me. They know that my heart is always with my children.

So Monday morning my two littlest boys will load up their backpacks and go to our parish school. The Sister who is principal has been only supportive and kind in our transition; the teachers professional, pleasant and genuine. The boys alternate between excitement and resistance, enjoying shopping for new shoes and supplies, smiling ear to ear as the talk buzzes around the parish about their arrival next week.

And each day I smile and encourage them and tell them that it will be fun and they will learn so much. And every night I lie in bed, staring at the ceiling, tears streaming silently down my face, like they are right now. I will miss them. I will miss this season. I only want the very best for them, and right now, I am not the very best.

But if a mother can trust her husband, reach out in humility, and learn to explore her talents, I am the very best I can be.

Thanks for your prayers.


Jamie said...

I will pray that all goes well with the boys and you!!

When you are not there with your boys, God will be. They will do wonderful!

Giovanni said...

And I always thought the crumpled up paper on the ground was from Luke or John.

Jen said...

I haven't got children of my own yet but I felt your pain as I read your post. You are a wonderful mother. Your children are so fortunate to have you as their "momma". My prayers with all of you through this transition. Thank you for the beautiful witness of discernment through prayer and the beautiful testimony of trusting in your husband.

Soul Pockets said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Soul Pockets said...

The boys will do great. It is a fine school.

Isn't it great to have someone (our dear husbands) to help us carry the load?

Your a wonderful mother, an awesome homeschooler, and I am sure you will be great on the PTA. :)

BTW can I have your books? :)

Journey of Truth said...

I had to make that decision for my eldest as well. He's in the local high school where the influence is less than less than stellar, but the curriculum and expectations are outstanding. Still, he's gone off and been a smart-mouth to one of the teachers he clearly doesn't respect . . . it's a tough call and I sit here and wonder if I made the right decision . . . BUT, his dad says we did make the right decision and since we continue to expect much of him in our home and outside of it, he'll snap out of being "14" and grow up eventually. IN the mean time, we'll try and keep tape over his mouth. :-)

YOu are a good mom from what I can tell from this blog. Everything will be okay - let go and let God. ANd, thanks for being a good example for us gals out here: consulting the husband is KEY.

Cassie said...

Keeping you and your family in prayer. I LOVE the trust you have in your husband and your example for all of us to remember that our husband's are the leaders in our house, and when we've chosen good ones, they are looking out for everyone's interests and are our partners in everything.

Kate Wicker said...

Cathy, this is such a beautiful and honest post. You're a wonderful writer and wife, mom, and daughter of God!

My oldest isn't even 4 yet and I sometimes find myself questioning my decision to homeschool. I wonder if I'm the right "fit" for it or if my children are. I wonder if this is what God is calling me to do. Somedays the prospect of homeschooling my kids excites me and inspires me. Other days, it seems too daunting, too confining, too hard. I wouldn't be human if I didn't admit to these doubts. I've decided to take it year by year and child by child - not so easy for someone who likes to map out my life. I also know I always have to keep an open dialogue with my husband - and with God - as you have so gracefully done.

God bless you, Cathy. Thank you for sharing this. I'll be praying for you and your boys come Monday.


Mary Lou said...

You and Aaron are making the right decision at this moment in your life. You are not a failure, you're a success. A successful person realizes that something has to change for the good of all. Successful families have involved parents, whether the kids are in school or not, and you and Aaron are very involved in your children's lives. Remember nothing is every perfect, not homeschooling, not traditional school. You guys are great, and will continue to make the right decisions for your family. Just continue to have faith in God and in yourselves. Jim and I love you guys and your family.

Laura said...

I come from a big family..two of my siblings are expert homeschoolers. My oldest sister- a homeschool mom, Cathy, has a 28 year old, 25 year old, 22 year old, 20 year old and a 10 year old. She mostly homeschooled the older ones, but there were some years when she would assess their needs and send one or two to attend their church school for certain chemistry or advanced calculus- courses she didn't feel completely confident in teaching. One or two also attended full time for a couple years.
The youngest was sent to a French immersion school, and even though he is fluent in French at 10, she has decided that the school doesn't meet his needs so she is now homeschooling him and he is soaring....if something changes, she will adjust accordingly.
My point is that we are wired for change and you are spiritually connected so you have to trust that your choices are inspired.
Your children are blessed to have such a devoted mother. They will thrive in this school I am sure, and if something needs adjusting, you will adjust and choose accordingly.
I admire you for having the courage to make changes.
It means you trust.
Trust is so good..

Out on a Limb said...

Cathy, I can feel the pain in your post. And really, there have been many times these past few weeks I have thought of putting mine in school. When I read your little "confession" I got chills because I've been debating this very thing.

Anyway, I think it takes an extreme amount of SELFLESSNESS to change all that you have identified with the past 15 years. Losing that "Oh and she homeschools too" is hard. But if you know that you're doing the best thing for your boys...then so be it!

momto5minnies said...

((((CATHY))) ... you are a wonderful mommy. I agree with the other ladies here. We are ALL wired for change and just because you made this "big" decision, doesn't mean that you can never go back.

I admire you for your courage and ability to pray and discern ... it is never easy.

Kim H. said...

Cathy~ Wow! That's big stuff. But I am proud of you - you are a good Mommy - and I always say the hardest part of parenting is that these little blessings didn't come with a manual.

I am praying, praying for your smooth transition - it sounds like you have a wonderful, super supportive big man - and I love the fact that you mention your support network.

Keep on trusting girl!