Last Tuesday marked the Offical First Day of homeschool for us.
I love the start of a new school year in the same way I love January first. The fresh start. Time to make new plans, new resolutions. Time to get organized and simplify. (An excuse to buy a new calendar, moleskine and favorite pens .)
But last Monday, as the "first day of school" loomed ever closer, I was a crazed madwoman. I felt this pressure to have everything in place before the Big First Day. I needed every detail worked out and decided. I needed to have every paper copied, every hole punched, every note read.
On top of that, I needed my house to be perfect. Clutter gone. Floors mopped. Floorboards wiped. Closets cleaned out. Every speck of laundry washed, folded and put away. (that never happens.) One would think I was preparing for a real estate open house, or perhaps, to have the queen for tea. A tea in which she also happened to open every closet door and inspect under my bed.
No, silly, it's just the first day of school.
I don't know where it was coming from, but there it was–a suffocating feeling that this was my last chance to get everything together. That if it wasn't done by bedtime Monday, it was doomed to never be accomplished. Ever. Apparently my life, as well as my ability to accomplish any mothering task outside of the classroom was somehow going to cease the moment I slipped back into my teacher-mama clothes.
But then, hallelujah, in a moment, sitting on the edge of the tub watching a chubby baby splash carelessly in the bubbles, it struck me. That this craziness was nonsense. Big time. That I needed to move forward at my own pace. That I needed to find MY rhythm. Our rhythm.
I've often heard it said (okay, really only once, but I remember it often) that when a person starts their own business they must prepare themselves for the fact that it takes a good five years before they really have their feet under them.
And I've always found myself applying the same logic to homeschooling.
Last year, I wholeheartedly jumped in to a curriculum that was going to give me the structure and discpline that I felt our days so desperately needed. I wanted someone to tell me exactly what to do. I wanted a plan and a vision. I wanted to get on a path and systematically walk my way down it.
This year because of budget and because of the way that path seemed to go up a really steep hill at the end, and we got really tired and burned out, I decided to bag it.
Instead, I consulted a good friend who knew me and my children and my needs pretty well. And who also happened to be educated and gifted in curriculum design.
And late one night I sat in her little school room, at a tiny little kid-desk, and together we hammered out my year and figured out what seemed to fit just right.
But what fits even more, is the sentiment behind everything we're doing. It's the new calm.
That first day, we just jumped in. Instead of feeling the tug of the clock, we tackled bedrooms and laundry before we opened any books. It felt good to work to the hum of the washing machine running upstairs. And the sloshing of the dishwasher from the pantry. Instead of feeling the push to tackle lessons in every subject, I just let it be. We did Math, until Math was done. We read, until we didn't want to read anymore. When we got hungry, we ate. When it seemed like a good time to go check the pony, she did. When there was an itch to practice piano, we scratched.
It's funny, how much we got accomplished. How nice the day felt. How good it is let go. How comfortable it is to seek out our rhythm versus some contrived and conceived pressure from who knows where.
If only I would learn this lesson I apparently need to learn multiple times in this parenting journey. That so much of this happens naturally. We don't have to work so hard at it. Yes, it's work. But we're doing it. Naturally. There's goodness and learning and priceless, indespensable moments and experiences happening in every single day. Homeschool mom. Public school mom. Private school mom. It doesn't matter. It's happening for all of us.
It's the trusting enough to let go. It's the freedom to find your own rhythm. It's the new calm. It blows through every day, if we'll only take a moment to feel it brush against our cheek.