I sit on the quiet porch. The stillness is wonderful. It is chilly this morning so I gather the fabric of my fleecy robe and pull it high up on my neck, then bury my face in the soft folds. Breathe in. Breathe out. The steam from my breath fogs my glasses. I smell the pumpkin spice lotion on my hands and it reminds me of fall…even though it's barely mid August.
Usually I loathe the cold. But not this morning. Maybe it's because I know it will be 75 degrees this afternoon. I think it's because the cold is invigorating, preparing me for the day ahead.
Day. Alone. No kids. Quiet.
It still seems new to me, even after two years. I still have a few pangs of guilt. I miss them when they go to school. Could I have kept homeschooling? Should I have left their education in the hands of strangers? Did I give up on them?
I even shake my head as I type that. Not that anyone can see, mostly showing the resolute in my gut. It was the right thing to do. They were ready. I was ready.
Summer was chaotic and frazzled. The lack of schedule and routine was unnerving. I crave order. How did we manage when everyone was home all day long? Then I remember the excel spreadsheets, the tight schedules. We all knew where we belonged and when and everything flowed. Seamless. Smooth.
The wind rips through the porch and I gather my robe even tighter around me. I see the swirls of steam dance through the air as they leave my mug of black coffee. The birds feed just a few steps from me. My mellow dogs sit at my feet and watch them. They don't even growl…somehow they know the birds are part of our NEW morning routine. Our new solitude. Peace.
Earlier. I tucked stools back under the counter. Placed the toaster where it belongs. Cleaned up crumbs and dollops of strawberry jam. Flipped light switches to off and picked damp towels off the floor. Mom duty. Even as I sit on my porch I see a chair askew from dinner last night, a swirl of water on the table from someones glass that never got wiped up. Signs of kids and teens and life.
What will I do when they are gone? I complain about it now, but will I miss it then? People say that I will. People say that it's hard.
Peace. Order. Be still.
Noah prepares to leave for college in a couple weeks. I am not sad. I do not dread the day. It excites me…for him. This is what we worked for. This is what we prepared him to do. All those years of handwriting, and Greek root words and endless reading. I know my son. I've spent countless hours investing in his education for this moment. To send him off. He's ready. We made a man. A young man who is ready to head into the world. In his wake he will leave chairs out, damp crumpled towels and water ringlets. Minor. Mom duty.
That's my job.
I sip the black steaming liquid and smile. So peaceful. So still.
I love these moments. I didn't have them when I was homeschooling. I also didn't miss them since I didn't know they existed. They are my morning gift. Seven hours stretch in front of me. Seven hours of productive time in the studio. My day work. But they will come home. Noisy. Loud. Smelling of sweat and institution. They will pull out the stools and leave dishes on the counter. Backpacks and flip-flops and discarded sweaters will scatter my floor. Chaos. Breathe.
I am no longer responsible for their learning. There is a huge sense of relief in that. I check papers. Do math problems (the ones I can still solve). Sign forms. They have good study habits. They do their homework. They take it seriously. They are excellent students. Is that from the years of home education? Maybe. Yes! I'll take credit for that one. I poured my heart and soul and mind into my small people.
Evening chaos. Such a stark contrast to this quiet morning peacefulness. But for now? This morning is a gift. A treasure. It grounds me and I love it.
But I will also love when they come home. And when the man child is no longer here to empty my refrigerator and overload my washing machine e leaving dumbbells and barbells all over my basement…I'll miss it. I'll miss him.
But for THIS year we still have three girls. Three headstrong, independent, brilliant little women. Different personalities. Different talents. Different goals. They are exhausting and wonderful.
This job of parenting is so much more than you could ever prepare for. The diapers. The bottles. The "no's". It seems exhausting then. It IS exhausting. But somewhere along the way they develop into real people. With thoughts and ideas and personalities. We GET to be a part of that. Parenting. An amazing privilege.
My fingers grow numb from typing in the cold. I hadn't even noticed how cold I was as I rushed through these words…smiling. The ramblings of my head. Spewing forth out my hands onto the keyboard in these peaceful moments.
Be encouraged Mama. Daddy. Your work is so meaningful. Whether you spend every waking hour with your creations or just a few. You have power. To love. To mold. To teach. You are shaping the future. Be brave.
But for now. Sit back. Enjoy a moment of quiet. Enjoy your coffee. You're going to need it.
Labels: choosing to homeschool, empty nest, homeschooling, lisa lehmann, mom, mom duty, mom jobs, parenting, parenting teens, preparing your kids for college, public education