Go-go-go! HURRY! This is what I’m thinking most of the time. And, honestly, what I’m saying most of the time. I have high standards for myself and for others, and time management is just one of the issues where that trait is made obvious. I get up as early as I can stand, so I can fit in all the things I’m “supposed” to do before the kids get up. I scarf down my food so I can get to the next thing on my to-do list. When I’m shopping, I walk as fast as I can so I can manage to do as many errands as possible, as well as burn more calories.
So, when the kids called me on that fateful day over three months ago, of course I ran. Not because they were in danger or because they run the show around here. But they wanted to show me their Tarzan tricks on the tree outside, and my goal was to oblige them “real quick” before I went back to whatever project I was working on. So, since I was hurrying, I broke my pinky toe on the edge of the door. And with that my hurrying came to a screeching (literally) halt. Ninety-nine days later, it has not healed, and there is also something wrong with the rest of my foot. We’re not sure what.
Proverbs 16:9 “In his heart a man plans his course, but the Lord determines his steps.”
(Fitting for the occasion, wouldn’t you say?)
At first, it was a fun “vacation.” It was so leisurely to have hubby and kids taking over my typical duties. Dirty dishes? Sorry, I can’t do that. Laundry? Nope, out of commission. Kids need something? Go ask your dad! Woo-hoo! I was free! Of course, that doesn’t mean I didn’t make wise use of my time. I tackled all the “sitting down” projects that have been on my to-do list forever. I sewed, made spreadsheets, shopped online, scrapbooked, and emptied my inbox. I listened to talk radio and did wayyy more online political reading and debating than I’ve ever been able to do.
But there’s only so much of that I can take. School isn’t getting done (at least not to my standards), the dishes are all filthy, the bathroom is unspeakable, my muscles are disintegrating, the kids are weary and grumpy, and I have. had. enough.
I’ve been thinking, what is going on here?? Every year we are behind on school. There is always a death or a move or some other catastrophe that prevents my schedule from being completed as planned. So, every year, I keep cutting the workload. This year I even cut our scheduled school days (I always plan the entire school year in advance.) But we’re still behind. Always behind.
Colossians 3:23 Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men.
However, I realize that we’re behind by my standards. No one else is telling me to do all that I try to tackle. Florida doesn’t require a certain number of school days. The kids always do well on their standardized testing. I can see progress. I know they are learning. So, what am I worried about?
Psst. I’ll tell you a secret. We actually didn’t finish one (especially difficult) year. Read that again. We. didn’t. finish. Incompleteness is simply not acceptable to me. However, I realized that in that case, that was the only way forward. To not finish. And I’ll tell you, it was such a relief!
Unfortunately, the confidence that my kids are doing fine and that they don’t have to know everything (and, actually can’t) lasts about a week each year, and then my refrain returns to: HURRY! Get the school done! DONE! And not just done, but done well.
Ecclesiastes 9:10a “Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with your might…”
We do classical homeschooling. Things like Latin, Shakespeare, memorization, in-depth history and Bible classes. I want to push my children to excel. I want them to do more than what is typically expected. I want them to have a better education than I had. I want them to be able to defend what they believe, work hard,
clearly communicate with others in writing and in person, prosper in business, and successfully raise up the next generation. I have high hopes, as I said, and desire the very best for them.
To that end, my instinct is to pursue every subject for them. And, along those lines, to do all the assignments and problems in the book. It took me years to learn (and accept) that just because something is in the book, that doesn’t mean we have to do it. (But why do they put it in there, then??) Since there is never enough time, I have learned that I need to lower my expectations. So we mostly dropped Latin. I have the kids do half or a third of the problems on a given assignment. We’re stretching more subjects over two years instead of one. And this was all *before* I was stuck on the couch all day.
My dependable eldest daughter is my go-to person for… pretty much everything. Always has been. Right now, thankfully her school days are usually pretty short and she can help the other kids with theirs. But since she’s also in charge of laundry and dinner, of course things are falling through the cracks. I am actually putting away old assignments that I (or my daughter) have graded, without discussing errors and having the kids redo things. This. Is. Unheard of.
And of course, it’s not just school that is affected. The house is a disaster. All the time. And really, I have never been a clean freak, but we are way beyond my limit now. Hubby and kids are reaching their breaking point. They are tired of the workload and just plain worn out. Last week I posted the following status update:
Nervous breakdown time… THREE months of an incapacitated mom means the house is a WRECK. Want a clean dish you feel OK about eating out of? Well, you won’t find one in our cabinets. School done and corrected? Well, maybe half. Charlotte’s glasses have been broken for weeks, and she’s supposed to be wearing them strictly, as well as patching for 2 hours a day. I keep forgetting to take Wyatt to speech (Please remind me that it’s tomorrow!). I keep forgetting to have the girls practice their instruments. All of the scissors in the house are gone. All of the rulers in the house are gone. All of the timers in the house are gone. I. can’t. tell you. what was going on in the bathroom. My kids are asking why I’m so grumpy. I just started bawling because dinner didn’t turn out right. I. need. to. walk.
2 Corinthians 12:9 “But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.”
Now, I’ve “known” for years that I can’t get it all done. (And written about it – yes those are three different links.) And as I said, I believe I have taken that to heart at least to an extent. But now I certainly can’t get it all done. And neither can my family. Going back to my question of why there always seems to be something in the way of my plan… Duh…
God has thrown out my plan.
He has been pushing me to slow down for years and I clearly wasn’t getting the message. So I’ve been put in time-out. And I will just have to accept that my kids might not be able to articulately explain the Travels of Marco Polo, write a paragraph without misspelling half the words, recite the Latin declensions, or remember the times tables. At least not this year.
But I hope that when this is over, they will have learned some other lessons that are just as, if not more, valuable in life. How to take care of others who need it. How to keep house. How to be agreeable even when they don’t feel like it. How to work hard, even when they are tired. How to cook. How to delegate and work as a team. How to pick up after themselves without being reminded. How to practice their instruments without being reminded. How to do their school without being reminded.
Hmmm, maybe my expectations are becoming a bit unreasonable here… Shocker. You see how my mind works? Even as I am trying to find peace in lowering my standards in one area, I immediately go into high gear in another!
So let me rephrase my hopes for what comes out of this:
I hope that I will have gotten it through my thick skull (for good this time) that I should not admonish myself (and my family) for what we didn’t accomplish, but be thankful for and satisfied by what we did. That I should pray over my duties and ask for guidance as to what is most important in any given time. That I should be willing to let the “perfect” go, in favor of the truly good, which certainly the Lord knows better than I.
I’m not coming out against pursuing excellence. But I read recently that impossibly high standards are actually low standards in God’s eyes. This was a powerful statement to me. As with everything in life, there is a balance to homeschooling, housekeeping, and family life. I just hope I find it sometime before my kids are grown.
Psalm 116:7 “Return to your rest, my soul, for the Lord has been good to you.”