21 August 2014

losing and keeping

i began my 11th year of homeschooling 9 days ago. 7 days in, i lost my shit. my class roster read 2, but those 2 are filled to the brim with wiliness. like it's a spiritual gifting or something. you can only hear such things as, "let's play chiropractor" a few times when you should be hearing nothing before that metaphorical kettle boils over. and boy, mine did. it was bad. we had tears (mostly mine). we had slammed doors (only mine). and we had hair pulling (see a pattern?) and then i decided. "i'm done."

the next day the boys woke like sprites completely unfazed by the previous day's antics. but not me. i was worn weary wondering how the hee-haw i was supposed to get through the next 172 days with these raconteurs. but i've been taught to set an intention through the practice of yoga so that's what i did. for that day i set an intention to remember that this process of do-it-yourself educating is a slow and often arduous trail that takes you off the paved roads and sometimes into the brambles. and boy, were we feeling the stickers. so after 7 hard days, i cried uncle. and we blew off school. and went to the pool. 

we stayed basking in the vacant waters through two swim breaks and two sunscreen applications. and then we packed up and came home to read and rest for the rest of the day. 

the mood was lighter and sweeter and more gentle which is the tone i'm trying to strike with this business of raising men specifically schooling them.

so after a 24 hour break and a change in prospective, we began afresh. we each agreed where we were wrong. we each took the blame. we each accepted forgiveness. and just like that we launched back into those testy waters of school. at home. 

but yesterday as i swam with my beloved boys, the silly stress of unreachable expectations washed away. i let the chlorinated water clear away much of my shit. you know the shit i thought i had lost the day before. after 7 days of maddening cat herding? yep. nothing like a jump in calm waters to calm me. and them. 

so here i am. sitting before you with laptop in lap hoping that you'll continue to point me to the true north which is not the land of santa and other fairy tales and other unreasonable expectations. it's a place where truth hangs out and little boys are enjoyed and disciplined and loved and laughed with and encouraged and held accountable. 

and speaking of second chances and being held accountable, i am reminded of how many millioneth chances are reigned down on me and how i stand in awe of all that ridiculous grace from my Mister, my boys and my creator. so let's just keep on lavishing grace shall we? play nice. laugh more. and try to keep our shit together shall we?
no, the irony of our read aloud is not lost on this girl

yours in truth and much weakness,
xo gf

14 August 2014

are we there yet?

for some reason, and i don't know from where i got my information, but for some reason, i thought once upon a time that parenting was hardest in the beginning climbed to its height of difficulty when the child was around 5 and then became remarkably and uneventfully well, easy. i've only been at it for 15 years, but based on my personal experience and that of my friends with older kids, it.only.gets.more.challenging. 

yesterday we were trying to finish up supper for a family walk. as we tidied the dishes and swept the floor, one of our boys argued. not over the task of sweeping, but over a dispute that he and i had had hours prior over, well, i honestly cannot remember what. but he was what we in the south like to term "stewing" and what i mean by this is this boy who i adore cannot stand being w-r-o-n-g. and he cannot stand being called out. and when i do call him out, it turns into a back and forth like something from a courtroom. "what is your evidence?" "how can you prove probable cause?" "did you see the defendant lay down that towel and then leave the scene?" 

y'all. it's akin to that darling stage in a child's development when everything is "why?" only this go around the kid has a larger vocabulary, an arsenal of excuses and doesn't require snacks or naps to refuel their energies. 

i've been thinking a lot about how we never really leave a stage of parenthood, it just sort of changes. parenting to me feels like i'm that little kid starting out on a road trip with my parents. my small legs dangling over the seat. i can't see past the front seat, and i keep asking, "are we there yet?" o, sure. i should be all "enjoy the ride, look out the window. enjoy the adventure." but, really. all i want to know is "when are we freakin' going to get 'there' cause i'm feeling carsick? " wherever there is.  

i have decided to keep a tally of how often i get interrupted whilst using the loo. every.single.time. i go to the bathroom, i hear, "hhheeeeeeyyyyy, mom?" and guess what? my kids are too old for this. the youngest is 8 for crying out loud. it got me to wondering how much of life repeats itself.

for instance, the other day i was standing in the kitchen. the 13 year old walked over to me and hugged me. hard. and you know what? it was the best thing i have ever felt in my life. in fact i told him that his affection is the only gift he ever has to give me. for the rest of his life. he rolled his eyes as he shot a glance in his father's direction. "riiiiight." but i meant it. wholeheartedly. a hug from your toddler is precious. an unsolicited hug from your teenager is epic. a choice action. a reminder that in all of this screwed up parenting game, you still are in the game. at least. 

sleepless nights still come though you are no longer up feeding a wailing infant. you are feeding your fears of whether or not this whole thing will work out. 

fighting over independence? yup. only the littles who want to "do it by myself" are now 15 year olds who think they no longer need you for, well, anything. 

getting them to eat well, stay safe. none of that changes as your children get older. it just gets bigger. as does your love. they can do more so you expect more. and sometimes that leads to more frustration when they don't do the things you know they can do (and have told them to do like a million times). and then you remember they are just a kid after all. and you remember that handy and effective tool called grace. the grace that is extended to you over and over. and with all your might, you wrench that out to use on your kid. and boy, is that the best thing.

i remember gazing at my newborn with a love that felt otherworldly. yesterday as my 13 year old walked out the door, i felt that love. a hundred times stronger. only instead of it being one sided, it came back when he said, "i need you to be my mom." 

and when i am invited into the 15 year old's inner circle, a circle of one, i am grateful. he shows me what he's working on, thinking about and i cautiously tread because i never know when he's going to become incensed with me. and showing him any kind of affection is akin to court room, "permission to approach the bench" kind of exchange. never one to show his anger. i read an excerpt from a paper he once wrote, "i rarely become anger". what? is this kid really mine?

o, but he is. and so are his 3 little wild ass brothers. we have a somewhat long history with one another. a tiring history. and speaking of tiring. parenting older kids, with all the running around, staying up late helping them understand a math concept, shuttling around to this place and that-is just exhausting. so take cheer, dear young parents. you have time. so rest now.


12 August 2014

woo with flowers. keep with service.

damn it. i hate a cliché. like really hate. and i had so planned, so very much planned to get through this day without a blog post. i know what you're thinking, "o, you're still writing?" yeah, yeah. i'm a big ole slacker when it comes to doing things that do not involve keeping my little world turning(aka driving carpool and keeping kids alive and educated). but there i was driving down gallatin (beck's que onda guero

was written after he drove down that colorful road-okay maybe not, but that's my story, and i'm writing so). and it hit me.

and i knew i had to write this down for all you to read and for my boys to never read and for Mister to maybe read. 
holding on for dear life

today marks 19 years of wedded-what-the-hell-are-we-doing. o, and bliss. nothing but bliss, bless our young, little hearts that fateful hot-as-heck august afternoon in a college chapel without a/c. and here we are still digging one another and still well, together. now, that my darlings is a miracle. and i dare say had i married any of those rascals who wooed me once upon a time, this story would not have a happily ever after. i would be divorced because well, i have a way with men. a way of driving them crazy. and not in the catwoman kind of way, but in the 1-800-imgettingtheheehawoutofhere kind of way. because? you ask. because i am a bit of a challenge. in the truest sense of the word. 
case in point. who wouldn't want to be married to that scowl?

so this morning by dawns early light when the oldest got up to leave for his lengthy 5 minute walk to school, the Mister gave me my anniversary gift. now let me stop right here to explain to all you doe-eyed younguns who have been married for less than 10 minutes, this gift was the best gift.like ever. 

was it jewelry? no. flowers? no. i'll cut to the chase cause i don't even have time to filter through all the possibilities. and since the traditional gift for such a monumental occasion is a bronze chess set(eye roll), suffice it to say, that would not have bode well with me. for my 15 year old, yes, but it's not his anniversary. 

so now you're so wondering what did this man of steel give to his beloved bride on the morning of their 19 wedded anniversary. yeah? yeah? 

nothing. nada. zilch. because, he gave me himself which is all this girl could ever possibly ask for. um. well. yes. kind of. 

the man who knows me o so well gave me nothing because he knew what i really wanted was a day off. plain and simple. and o, so satisfying.

yes, sir. it was a slam dunk. the Mister stayed home from his work to do my work. he drove the middle schooler to school (which he does every day, but still!). he spent hours schooling the two littlest on their memory work, map writing, biome studying, latin conjugating, peter pan reading, math assessment giving. and i sat in bed sipping my coffee in my jammies til nearly 11am! not fancy coffee either. just coffee that i made as i listened to him help with their recitations. and show the boys a short video on charlemagne-who by the way from what i heard for the 2.3 minutes i left my room, was not such a bad guy. it was a decadent day. a treat. 
fighting off scurvy and starvation with a rousing watch of charlemagne and popcorn

and i sat back, i thought about all those "older couples" with their saggy selves who once said things to me like, "marriage changes the older you become." and i stamped my foot and said to them, "it sounds like you're settling." but they weren't, and we aren't. unless you consider settling, settling down and taking life a little less seriously. (and i am settling down a lot since i started taking some cool new supplements-wink wink).

but, lest you think we've always been THIS fabulous and always known how to give and accept gifts graciously, i'll remind you of a time i wrote about. the time that my poor, young, unassuming husband gave me dish covers on our first married christmas. the ones i said we needed, but who wants to get what they need on christmas? (i do. now. 19 years later.) when i spent the day crying in the bathroom cause i may have been prone to drama-once upon a time. but since then we have learned that sometimes the best gifts are acts of service. and the Mister excels at this. kindly, graciously and ever so patiently. he even admitted as he went out the door to drive carpool to triathlon practice, "i loved today." and my very tired boys, said, "when are yoooou coming back, mom?" cause let's just say, the Mister is a little more rigorous than girl friday-who allows popsicles BEFORE math is finished and allows snacks BEFORE lunch. 

what a fantastic 19 years it's been. this man is a saint. and i am one lucky sinner. 

xo in wedded bliss,