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.