With my grandmother's funeral taking place today and the combination of books I've happened to stumble upon in my leisurely reading lately I find myself thinking very critically of life. What it means? What's important and how do I show that? How to live each day to the fullest without fear getting the best of me? That kind of stuff. How can I be sure I'm being the best person, mom, and wife I can? How to best live my life so I won't have regrets at the end? Kind of depressing, I know, but I can't help it. Why I'm sharing this on my homeschool blog I'm not entirely sure, except I've come to think of this blog more as a diary of sorts than an actual homeschooling blog. I write it first and foremost for me and it helps me to get my thoughts down. Besides, I'd be lying if I said these questions aren't affecting the way I'm interacting with the boys. I can't help but think forward to the future and wonder what kind of boys they'll turn out to be. I can't help but wonder if I'm doing the right thing by them in all the big ways and small ways. Am I supportive enough of them and their feelings? Am I preparing them to be self- sufficient, successful adults? It's scary being a parent and realizing that your children's lives are really one long experiment. By the time you know if what you've been doing worked or not; will it be too late? You can do everything that you think is right all their lives but ultimately I wonder how much we really can control who they turn out to be and what their lives will be like. As they grow we're forced to see that they are really their own beings with their own thoughts, fears, dreams and talents; they always were. Think of how different every single baby is from the moment of birth (heck, even conception! as any mom can tell you; no two pregnancies are alike either). As they grow we realize we have less and less influence on them and we put our faith in them more and more. We have faith that our love, traditions, and beliefs have rubbed off on them enough for them to find their way. While my gram's death got me started thinking about this kind of stuff, I know she lived a nice, long, full life and while I'll miss her dearly, I'm fairly certain she was happy with how her life, family and future all played out. I'm mostly stuck on these thoughts because of the books I've been reading.
I recently finished a book called The Summer Hideaway by Susan Wiggs that was about a nurse who is helping a terminally ill patient live out the last summer of his life. He has his bucket list and talks about things he would have done differently, choices he made in life and how life just seems to get in the way of living sometimes. The book I just finished yesterday, called Nineteen Minutes by Jodi Picoult really got me thinking. I'm a total cheesy romance novel kind of gal when I pick a book for pleasure. I love reading about people falling in love and having happily ever afters. This book was not my normal. I had no idea what it was about other than nineteen minutes that changed the lives of those in the book. I read the first chapter and I was hooked. It was riveting, though I'll admit upsetting. It's about a school shooting. A teenage boy who one day goes on a rampage through his high school and kills/ injures up to 20+ students. Not a light airy love story like I usually enjoy. This book depressed me, upset me and yet, it really got me thinking. It's a compelling story that is so well written. By the end you remember what high school was really like (for all the students around you too), you think about how all the lives of all the people in the town are forever changed; those that died too young, those families they left behind to deal with the grief, the boy who went on the rampage (and all the horrible things that happened to him his whole life that lead up to this point), the killer's parents who are left to wonder where they went wrong, the school kids who lived and question why and how to go on. You're left reading about all the regrets; regrets of the parents, kids, and townspeople. We all have them right? Hopefully, most regrets are minor, but still we can't make it through life and not think "oh, if only I had handled that differently!" I'm sure as my gram came to the end of her life she had some regrets, after all, we're all human and make mistakes on a daily basis. I hope she had no major regrets and looked back with fondness and smiles. I began to wonder if I'll feel the same way. I sure hope so!
I started thinking about how most parents walk around with pieces of their hearts outside their bodies. So much of our lives, feeling and thoughts are wrapped up in our children. I think in order to be a good parent you have to live that way. Yet, it's scary. When our kids are hurt we're hurt; physically or emotionally. We all want the best for our kids. But I can't help but wonder if we always know what's best for them. After all, it's a constantly changing thing. What is best for one child will not be best for another. What is best for a child at one age will not be best for them at another. Parenthood is one long stream of trial and error. We stick with what works until it doesn't anymore and then we try something new. I know that right now homeschooling is working for all of us. I see my kids smiling and laughing so much more; how could I not when I'm around them more? I see my kids learning to accept one another for who they are and I see them growing in confidence by leaps and bounds. But, I'm realistic enough to realize that homeschooling may not always work for us. I know I don't have all the answers and as much as I might wish I had a crystal ball sometimes, I don't. I have no idea what our future holds and so since we've started homeschooling I've been focusing more and more on living in the moment. I think that is an important life lesson. Tomorrow is no guarantee, for anyone, and so you have to try and live as best you can in the moment. Say sorry when you need to, enjoy and soak up those feelings of happy times, learn from your mistakes, and share your love.
I have no regrets about pulling my boys out of school; if anything I regret not having done it sooner. When looking back on my life I know I won't regret having spent this time with them. I may end up regretting not having taught them more in a traditional school- like way, but I won't regret having had them with at home. I know I am beyond blessed to be able to stay home with them like this. We are truly lucky to share so many wonderful memories, discoveries and conversations. I see them growing up and know if I blink too long it will all be over. They seem to grow by leaps and bounds before my very eyes. So far, they're wonderful kids; kind, considerate, and hard working. I have no reason to think they won't continue on that way. I've been hugging them just a bit more and for just a bit longer than usual. I'm sure someday soon they'll outgrow that; being boys they aren't going to want mom hanging around giving them hugs and kisses all the time. I find myself saying "yes" (or thinking why not?) more often; saving my "no!'s" for those times I think it's really important. I find myself sitting and watching them at play, listening to their stories just a bit more attentively, and trying to find little ways to make each day special. I'm trying to serve more of their favorite foods, let them play with their favorite toys, taking them to visit their favorite places. Yesterday I allowed them to play in the lake. Tonight we've decided to snuggle in our jammie's, watching movies and getting take- out while having a carpet picnic. Tomorrow we'll have a cookout with their grandmother and all the families favorite foods and snacks. Making each day a special memory, when possible, has become something of a goal of mine. Finding a way to center our learning around fun, family activities had been a goal of mine from day one (the special memories just followed!). I have a slight tendency to forget about that every now and then, but with these reminders I've decided to redouble my efforts.