The beginning of this school year was much like last year. After about two hours of the first day, I was ready to call it quits. I remember that last year (when I only had four children), I felt as though there was too much on my plate. Dh called around lunch time and I was practically in tears. Now, here I am with two more-- boys no less, and four little toddler munchkins. I certainly have moments of chaos, and plenty of moments where I wonder if I can really do it all. After day one this year, I seriously was ready to call it quits. Certainly any alternative was better than me losing my mind and causing those around me to deal with my sharp tongue and frazzled attitude. The more overwhelmed I feel, the more sharply I speak, and then I simply shut down.
That being said, we plodded through, we survived that first week. I gained some perspective on why we chose to homeschool. We put some new boundaries in place (those are a separate post), and plodded on in our education endeavor. Those who look in on homeschoolers often wonder how we do it. Truth is, I wonder how we do it. Looking back at where we started this year and how things are progressing now, I know there has been quite a bit of divine intervention. A friend once told me we have to be empty in order for God to fill us. If we think we are doing a great job, we probably aren't letting God do His job. These first weeks of school reminded me that only by relying on Him will I be successful in any education of our children.
That isn't to say that this has been a stellar semester for us. I am still struggling to get it all done. The housework is suffering, the girls are still playing catch-up, the little ones need more direction. However, we are moving forward and gaining ground each day. I end each day wishing I had more time, but I am learning to number the accomplishments and worry less about the unfinished tasks.
My motto this year has been simple. I try to focus on what I can do in each moment. There are times when there is so much going on at one time that I fear I will lose all control of this house and my children, not to mention my sanity. I try to stave off those overwhelming feelings of inadequacy by saying a quick prayer (I always like, "Jesus, Son of the Living God, Have mercy on me, a sinner." as I breathe in and out), then I focus on tackling one thing at a time. I realize there is only so much I can do, as long as I set about doing what I can, I shouldn't worry about doing what I can't. When I employ this method, I typically find that within a few minutes order is restored.
It hasn't always been easy to do this. The only way I can let go of all of the tasks I leave unfinished, is if I am confident I have done all that I could do. That means that I have to constantly be asking myself, is this the best thing I can do right now to live out my vocation as a wife and mother? Is this what God is asking me to do right now? I have to make sure that I am giving each moment in service to God.
This, by no means, implies that I am working all the time, or that I have to be going each moment. In fact, there are many moments I am serving God better by letting go of work and being attentive to my own need for respite, for prayer, or my children's needs for my attention. Yesterday, I had to let go of the dishes in the sink to sit and rock two little boys who weren't feeling well. This may be easy for some, but I have a difficult time when the house is not orderly especially when dh comes home. I also recently picked up crocheting again. While this seems like the most difficult time in life to pick up a hobby, it is important I get time to myself to unwind. Crocheting is a nice hobby for me, because I like to add prayers to my stitches, so I am multi-tasking-- prayer time in my down time.
On the flip-side, I have also become aware of time-killers. For me this is often computer time. I have had to offer up computer games that tend to suck me in and eat up countless hours. I have to try to save social media until after school hours. I have also had to settle for good enough on housework I have typically done more thoroughly. I am also finding myself spending a little more on convenience items. I opted to purchase this year's saint costumes rather than make them. While I enjoy the creative outlet, at this stage I need projects without deadlines. Again and again I find myself asking, is this best for my family right now? Is this the best thing I can do with this minute?
If I offer up to God each moment, each minute, and I focus on what I can do right now, I find myself less overwhelmed with all that I need to accomplish in a given day. My To-Do list is never ending, I am never going to finish the laundry, there are always going to be more dishes to wash. There is always going to be another subject I would like to delve into with the girls, more to teach them, or more to explore with them. However, if I give them each moment, if I work hard right now, I am amazed at how much I can accomplish (or more accurately, what God accomplishes through me).
All I have to offer to my children, my husband, my family, God, is right now. I can offer this moment. I must chose right now, each moment, how best to serve them. If I am doing this, I shouldn't be worried about what I couldn't do.
"Start by doing what is necessary, then what is possible, and suddenly you are doing the impossible."
— Francis Of Assisi