When You’re Poked With a Big Stick

Last night, my daughter crept into our room like a wraith from an M. Night Shyamalan movie, and tapped me on the arm three times.  I opened my eyes and, while couldn’t see her, I could feel her, though it took me a good four seconds to remember where I was.

She bent over me and whispered, “The dog puked in my room, and it wasn’t lumpy or a lot, but I can’t sleep in there.”

“Ish it on your bed?” I croaked, through my Meijer-brand mouth guard.

“No, it’s on my rug,” she moaned.  Now I could make out the outline of her hair.

“Go back to bed.  We’ll deal with it in the morning,”  I said.  (Warning!)

“I can’t.  You wouldn’t sleep with barf!  I’ll run out of air in there.”

“Then shleep in the fourth bedroom!  Do not wake up your father!” I was up on one elbow now.

“I can’t do that, Mom!  I have fear issues!”  I could see her flailing her arms, or at least, that’s what I think was happening.

My husband woke up.

“Now, shee what you did?” I hissed.  “You woke up Dad, and Dad has to get up at 5:30 a.m.”

Husband heaved himself upright, wordlessly, to go into her room and vanquish the up-chuck.

Before she left our room to follow him, my daughter whispered, “I’m sorry, Mom.”  It was more of a question.

And I said, “You aren’t sorry.  You aren’t sorry at all.”

Instantly I felt familiar guilt bathing my consciousness, but I was so mad I didn’t say another word.  I flung myself down on my pillow and squeezed my eyes shut.

When my husband finally staggered back to our bed, he informed me that there was no puke, on the rug or elsewhere, and that our daughter must have dreamed it.

That the whole thing was for naught (shoot me).

Except I know that it wasn’t.  Because it reminded me, once again, that when I’m poked with a proverbial stick (and being awakened out of a dead sleep is a big, big stick for me), the ugly me, my sin nature, strikes.  I need to be reminded that it’s there.  I need to deal with it before the Lord, lest I become comfortable, and stop fighting it.

This morning, when my daughter got in my bed (something she still loves to do), I told her that I’m sorry I was so impatient, so lightning-quick to get angry last night.  That it doesn’t please God when I react to her that way.

She forgave me immediately because that’s how she is.  She didn’t tell me I wasn’t really sorry.

We hugged each other, and prayed together, asking God to make us more like Jesus, more fearless, more giving.  And then we started our day, and it was fine.

Photo on 3-16-14 at 8.39 PM #2

This is my motherhood.  I’m not satisfied with being a jerk, but it’s onward and upward, because it has to be.  It just has to be.  I’m a slow learner, but I am learning, by the grace of God.  And my daughter is, too.

This is how it is, and it’s OK.

(Final note:  This morning, I also might have mentioned to my daughter that there never was any barf anywhere in her room, and that, scientifically speaking, she would probably never, ever, run out of air, except when she dies.  Because that’s also true).

Advertisements

A Homeschooler’s Guide to Surviving December

images-1

I love this month we’re in.

I love looking for beauty and meaning in life, and I can find a lot of both in December.  I love the snow, the ubiquitous sparkles, the fuzzy cardigans. I love peppermint mochas and peanut butter balls.  I love Christmas contatas and casseroles and Nativity scenes.  I love to remember why we celebrate: Jesus.

What I don’t love is all the shopping, the feeling that there’s not enough time, ever, ever to finish all the tasks on my list, the huge holiday expectations of basically everyone, and the feeling that the kids and I are getting behind in our academic goals.

And while I can’t really get out of shopping (no, I can’t. I’ve kind-of tried for years), or create extra time where there isn’t any, or make my entire circle of family, friends, and acquaintances expect less from the season, and from me, I’ve learned that I can manage our homeschool goals for the month of December so that we end up feeling like we spent our time the way we meant to.

Here’s how I do it:

I set the bar low for academic work.  This means we don’t do math, basically, or Latin.  Instead, we gather together at some point during every day to read an Advent-related portion of Scripture and an accompanying devotional, plus a chapter of whatever novel we’re working through, and a couple of poems.  We talk about the day, pray, discuss what’s coming up tomorrow, etc.  That’s it.  For the whole month of December.

I set the bar high for sleep.  We love our sleep around here (and by ‘we’ I mean me).  And, of course, all the holiday merry-making of December is completely exhausting, especially if you host parties or have overnight guests.  Since I don’t want us to give less time to the people we care about, and I also don’t want the kids to be sick and good-for-nothing when we start a new semester come January 1st, I try to have everyone in bed on the early side.  We’re better able to avoid illness and crankiness this way, and, as an added bonus, waking up at 5:00 a.m. on Christmas morning doesn’t hurt quite so bad.

I carve out big chunks of “white space” in the day.  This is not so that I can stare off into the middle distance and drool, though that would be so nice, wouldn’t it?  It’s because I know that things will come up every day of this month, things that we’ll need to do, or want to do, things that teach us, things we couldn’t have planned.  I want to be able to seize special moments without freaking out about not having enough time in an already over-packed academic or social calendar.  So I build in downtime each day, as much as I can, knowing full-well that it will get filled in some way, and that there will learning opportunities I didn’t know we needed.

The upshot of all of this is that when we look back on the month of December, we’re able to see all the things we were able to experience–people we got to visit, chapters we got to read in front of the fire–instead of all of the things we weren’t able to get done.  Not only does this make for a sweet holiday season, but it also sets us up for a productive, fresh start in January.

And that’s a Christmas present this homeschooling mom wishes for every year.

Earth

This morning I returned to earth at 9:21 a.m.  The sounds of a made-in-the-eighties cartoon pressed through the doors of my bedroom, elbowing past the hum of my floor fan, and tapped my subconscious on the shoulder.  One of the dogs had curled himself next to me, wedging me on my side.  I suppose it was my tingling right arm that brought me back in the end.  I felt for the dog’s back and pushed him over, sitting up halfway. I blinked away eleven hours.

The first day of getting back to things.

It has been eighteen days since I’ve truly slept, paid attention to the kids, written, or been quiet for that matter.  I’m worn.  Every day I’ve spent with family (first husband’s, then mine) has been a gift.  I am reminded that, other than my faith, my family is really all I need in the end.  And if I had the choice to surround myself with my sisters and their children on a more permanent basis, I would.  I’d wrap them around me like a mink coat, aware of the luxury.

But I am a girl who longs for quiet, who craves routine.  These things are important for my long-term survival.  I’m ready to slip back into the familiar warp and weft of my life, such as it is.  Ready for the odd moment of fruitful nothing.

Husband leaves for Africa next week so life won’t be strictly normal in the days to come.  But I will spend many night hours staring and thinking hard and writing when he’s gone.  When he arrives home he’ll recognize me.  I’ll have put myself back together, one word at a time, and returned to earth for a longer stay.