With all the ups and downs my life has had lately it feels so nice to be really and truly happy. And I am! Last week was so wonderfully refreshing and eye opening for me, an excellent way, if I may say, to conclude my twenties! I think this feeling of happiness and overall contentment can be attributed, in large part, to the highly successful experience of Dylan's first Vacation Bible School. It seems like such a simple thing, but really, it was so very momentous for me and him. Seeing how much he actually enjoyed going every day, and hearing him relate all the wonderful things he did and learned each day helped me realize, from a slightly different perspective, just how much he really is growing up! But witnessing his emerging independence, rather than fueling a nagging desire for him to have a "real school" experience, only strengthened my conviction that homeschooling is definitely the way for us to go. Make no mistake, I did have a great time with my girls while he was gone each morning. In fact, it was quite nice to have some sweet time to ourselves! We played in the park. We visited with grandparents. We stopped by the library, and an amazing educational resource center that I only just discovered. We played dolls and puzzles and read stories. But I missed Dylan while he was gone. I wondered what new things he was learning and I was sad that I couldn't be a part of it. I'm so thankful that he had the opportunity to experience learning and having fun apart from me, but there is no doubt now that I want to be the one to teach him in the context of his day to day education. (Though it also made me see how important it is for him to be involved in periodic classes such as VBS). I can't believe how big he's already getting. I still see so much little boy in him, but I know that before too much longer he'll be all big boy. I don't want to waste a single minute of these precious days with him, or my girls! And time just goes by so fast. So I'm more committed than ever now to providing a happy, educationally rich home environment for my children, one in which they can learn and grow and have fun! I'm afraid that for a while there, I was so focused on the details of curriculum and how-to's of homeschooling that I lost sight of the big picture of what I was hoping all along to provide for my family. But I have full confidence and faith that, having chosen this lifestyle...or, more accurately, having answered this call...the details will gracefully work themselves out. I'll continue to browse through curriculum providers. But it will be now without the anxiety and stress I felt before. It will be, instead, with the vision of what Dylan and I will most enjoy.
And, if all of that alone was not enough to make me happy, there have been so many other things--some little, and some big--during the last week that I just can't help feeling perfectly happy and at peace with where I am right now in my life. The most incredible happened to me on Thursday night. While I was at work, I was thinking about all of these things that have been weighing heavily on my mind and heart--my anxiety over homeschooling, my impatience with the kids, irritation at the chores that always seem to pile up--and there was this moment when, standing at the nurses station, I felt this inner peace just wash through me, and heard in my mind, as real as if the words had been spoken, a message to just relax, and enjoy this time for what it is. It may not always be the perfectly orchestrated life I strive for, but it is my life, the only one I'll have here on earth, and it is up to me to make with it what I will. Sure, I could feel bitter and resentful when my children aren't as well behaved as I'd like, or I can instead delight in the miracles that they are, and treasure their curiosity and imaginative play. I could feel overwhelmed by the tedium of daily chores (laundry, dusting, vacuuming, shopping...), or I could get down on my knees and thank God for the abundance of clothes we have to wear, the comfortable (if not immaculately clean) house we have to live in, and the vast array of healthy food we have to choose from at any time we like. I can either feel anxious over choosing a curriculum for my son or tremendous pleasure in being able to teach him at home. I saw clearly how much I need to improve my attitude and outlook, but rather than feeling scared or ashamed, I felt just boundless optimism, and profound joy at having been given this insight into the things that matter most to me. I was astounded when, driving home from work that night at two in the morning, one of my all time favorite songs (10,000 Maniacs: These Are Days) came on the radio. I turned it up way loud (in part because I really love it, but also to help me stay awake), and, for what must have been the first time, I really listened to the lyrics and was struck by how appropriate they seemed for me. (These are days you'll remember. Never before and never since, I promise, will the whole world be warm as this. And as you feel it, you'll know it's true that you are blessed and lucky.) These words have been playing over and over again in my mind, as a sort of mantra. These are the days I'll remember. I'd really hate to someday look back, once my kids are grown and gone, and see only how short tempered and uptight I was during the best years of my life. I am blessed and lucky. So many people long for a child of their own and I've been blessed with three! I sometimes take for granted what an honor and a privilege that is, but I hope to never again forget.
And, though I didn't deserve it, two of my very favorite men surprised me on Saturday with the most amazing birthday party, and I never even saw it coming! Darren and my brother Robby worked together to plan a surprise party for me at my brother's house. I never expected that either of them could be so sneaky! (Well, maybe Robby, but certainly not Darren! He's just no good at keeping secrets...which is usually a good thing! But I'm so glad that this was one secret he did manage to keep from me!) We had grilled hamburgers and hot dogs, chips and dips, beer and soda, Red Vines and M&M's (two of my absolute favorite candies), and a selection of music my brother chose specifically with me in mind. We swam and splashed in the pool before having cake and ice cream, and the kids were so worn out by the time we got home that they went right to bed without complaint. Truly, it was such a perfect day. I had severe reservations about turning thirty, but when I woke up that morning it felt entirely right. I loved my twenties. They gave me this life that I love so much, and now in my thirties I can, with a certain maturity I never felt in my twenties, relax and enjoy the reward of my efforts. And it's so exciting to look ahead at all the good and wonderful things that this decade may hold for me: more children, God willing; a fun and successful beginning to our homeschooling adventure; enjoying my children as they grow beyond the exhausting baby stage into fun and independent children; and more time spent with Darren.
I do love this life. "Never before, and never since...will the whole world be warm as this".