Having children over a span of 10 years means that I’ve always had someone home with me- for the past 15 years. Our “gap baby,” as we like to refer to him, arrived 5 years after our third born child. So in the midst of our oldest going to high school and taking the PSATs, I’m teaching someone else the alphabet. I feel like I’ve been in every stage of parenting, from babies to teens, for a long time. Although we love our little guy to pieces and can’t imagine life without him, I confess I was dreaming about a little more time to myself this fall. We had long ago decided not to rush our newly turned 5-year old into kindergarten. But at least he's going to preschool an extra day this year. This means I would have 4 glorious mornings with an empty house! Imagine the possibilities! Uninterrupted writing time, drinking a cup of tea in solitude, a morning for Bible study, freedom to go to the gym without toting anyone along. Before the fall even arrived, I had planned out how each day would be spent (no kidding).
But as the last school year was coming to a close, my husband and I began reconsidering our schooling options. Our children have never all fit in the same box very well. Different personalities and different needs have caused us to be flexible with our methods of education. We’ve experimented with a variety of schooling options from Christian school to homeschool to public school. Yet our third born, who was entering kindergarten right when Micah was born, has only attended our neighborhood public school. She is the one I never had time to homeschool because I was too consumed with a new baby and homeschooling our oldest. I really just needed her busy personality to go to kindergarten. But over the course of the past school year, we saw signs that told us she was getting lost in the middle and likely needed more of our focused attention. My husband and I talked about the benefits of bringing her home – from extra one-on-one time to intentional discipleship to educating her from a Christian worldview. But still, it was hard to pull the trigger. I wondered when I’d have time to write? When I’d have time for Bible studies? Or even take a breath?
So it wasn’t until the very end of the school year when we finally made a decision. “What do you think we should do?” I asked my husband in all earnestness. My husband is a gentle leader. He is not one to be domineering, or force his opinions when I’m feeling pulled in a different direction. For this reason, when he shares what he thinks, I listen all the more closely. “I think we should bring her home.”
That’s all it took. I knew Ben wouldn’t share this if he didn’t feel strongly about it. Tears filled my eyes and spilled over as I agreed and felt the loss of my perfect plan. Parenting is a series of of sacrifices, of laying down our rights for the good of our children. My mornings of solitude are being replaced with history and Latin and math lessons. But it will be a sacrifice worth making.
So as I begin my new venture of homeschooling one, with another in high school, another in middle school and the baby in preschool, God has given me an opportunity to trust him. As my daughter and I spend time reading together, attempting to learn Latin declensions, and talking about our morning Bible story, I see God at work. Hearts are being softened and bonds between us are being strengthened. It’s not perfect. There have already been days when I feel overwhelmed and wonder if I’ve bit off more than I can chew. But God promises to lead and guide and be with me on this new venture (Matthew 28:20). His all sufficient grace will sustain me in my parenting and homeschooling weakness (2 Cor 12:9).
Where has God called you to lay down your rights? Are you waking up in the night to nurse a newborn baby? Are you staying up past your bedtime in order to talk with your teenager? Or maybe you’re forgoing a second income in order to spend more time with your kids. Each of us have a different story. Please don’t read this as a call to homeschool your kids. There is much freedom in the paths we choose for our children. But often times, we’re challenged as parents and followers of Christ to lay down our most comfortable plans for the sake of those around us. In the midst of those sacrifices we can trust that following God’s plan will be more than worth the loss of our perfect ideal. There is much joy to be found in giving oneself up for the sake of another. And as we do so, we’re following our Lord Jesus, who for the joy set before him, endured the cross (Heb 12:2).