Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Tears on Toast

6:00 a.m. 
The light already on and the shower already running in the teenager's room. 
Hmmm...it appears he can get out of bed early without being prompted.  Who knew? 
He's gotta be scared.   
He's gotta be shaking with apprehension, right?
It's his first day attending a "real" school.
And he's not really attending.  He's just shadowing a fellow student to get a feel for the way things work.    It's only one day.    But it's a big step.  
I asked my husband this morning if he was a little sad that our baby was going to school.  
"No, I'm not sad.  I'm so excited for him," my husband declared. 
Well, Good.  For. You.  
Because I'm kinda holding back some tears here.  

I made him breakfast.   An egg sandwich.   As the tears polka-dotted the toast, I got a glimpse of my puffy eyes in the reflection off the microwave.   Oh, this is going to be so embarrassing.  Pull yourself together, Girl.  So I lathered the tears on the toast with some butter and no one knew the difference.    While I was at it, I made my husband an egg sandwich, too.    Both my boys were surprised when they came down to a warm breakfast.  I guess you have to go to school in this family to get good food in the morning.

The drive to school was sweet.   I wasn't distracted.   I listened to him.   We laughed a bit.  Twenty minutes of uninterrupted time with him.   I purposed to parent.   Because I knew I wouldn't have all day.   We pulled up to the school with minutes to spare.   We sat in the car and discussed his hair and swimming and whether he would ever be allowed to go to a dance.    Lots of topics for just a couple minutes.   As the clock ran out of stall time, we made our way through the front doors.   I was dragging my feet...he was leading the way.  I wanted to stop and take his first day of school picture, but I thought I'd wait.    I'd wait until he really has his first day of school.   And then I might embarrass the heck out of him.   But not today. 

The staff greeted us and welcomed him.   Two boys that he knows walked through the front door and gave him a shoulder bump.   The ninth grader that he's shadowing today came to get him and there were grins and laughter.   As my baby walked down the halls of a school for the first time ever, he looked back at me.   I didn't get a hug, or a kiss, or an I love you.   We had said all that in the car.   I got a wave and a head nod.   A head nod that I know very well.   A head nod that told me that indeed he was going to be just fine.  

And I cried all the way home and made my face even more splotchy.   I bought the other kids doughnuts, and now they are so glad that Zach went to school today because they got to eat sweets for breakfast.   They don't understand why I'm so sad.   It's just school, Mom.   I'm totally going to throw those words back at them when their firstborns go to school for the first time.     

And it's okay...
Even without my oldest, there's peace in the home today.              

Monday, February 4, 2013

The Decision--Part 1

Since I process through words, this could be a series of thoughts.  Or not.  
I simply labeled it "Part 1" in case I need more space to analyze.
Because goodness knows my husband can't receive this much chatter. 

We homeschool. 
We never intended to homeschool and without a move to Las Vegas, we probably wouldn't have dared.  Our journey began simply as the best alternative to the unimpressive Las Vegas schools.    
We don't have a clear, long-term conviction that homeschooling is the only way.     
We've always gone year by year. 
Each spring, we evaluate how our children will be schooled the following year, and much to our surprise, the last nine years have led us to educate our kids in our home.  
It's no secret that I have a tumultuous relationship with this method of schooling.  
I love it...sometimes.
I don't love it...other times.  
In a perfect world, my children would be home all day long with someone else schooling them. 
I love my children home...it's the schooling part that gets me.    But I'm willing...
Each year, we ask the Lord how He would want us to school the upcoming year. 
The answer has been the same every year we have asked. 
Keep them home. 

A gradual shift has been taking place over the last year.  
A page has been turning.   A releasing of the oldest. 
A gentle nudge toward another path.    A slight beckoning that it might be time. 
It might be time...
I can't say it very loud yet, so I'm going to whisper it and maybe my heart won't fully hear...
It might be time for my oldest to go to school.   
It really might be time...

Early last week, our oldest went to a high school academic planning session.   It's surreal to me that in a couple months I will have a highschooler.   Surreal and scary.   Surreal because I never thought I'd be old enough to have a child in high school.   Scary because these next years will go so fast and I'm really not ready.  

He came home from this meeting standing a little taller.    Looking a little more grown-up.  Talking a little faster than usual.   Was it nerves or excitement?    I couldn't tell.   

We asked him how he envisioned his high school years.    
He doesn't know...or so he says.  
Or maybe it's that every time I ask him, I have big tears rolling down my face and I'm gripping his neck tightly in desperation (okay, maybe that's a slight exaggeration.)    Maybe he really doesn't know what he envisions for high school...he can be indecisive.   Or maybe he thinks my feelings will be hurt...he can be tenderhearted.  Or maybe he's scared...just like me.    

This is hard.   It's hard because I love having him around.   He's the oldest.   My first baby.   He and I have been through a lot together, and I hardly remember life before him.  It's hard because if he goes to school our family dynamics will most definitely change.   He leads his siblings.  He's the peacemaker.   He's a stabilizer.  It's hard because I don't know that we've fully prepared him.   Is he academically on target?  Will he adjust?   Will his teachers have a problem with him reading upside down?

Any mama understands the tight throat, the knot in the stomach, the aching heart when the firstborn goes to school.   Our first day of school will just come nine years later than most.  And is it possible it will be a little more emotional because I have a little taste of what I'll be giving up?  There's so much I'll miss about having him home.  The vision of him leaning over a Kindergartner's math lesson and helping her count coins.   His sprawling body spread on the couch as we do Bible in the morning in pajamas.   The quick kiss on the cheek as he grabs his sandwich for lunch.   The random discussion that began with history, but continued on through math and then science.   The field trip on a Friday with all of his siblings.  Reading outloud and having him draw a correlation between what we're reading for fun and what we're learning in history.  The spontaneous wrestling match between the brothers that interrupts writing.   The "helpful" parenting tips he offers as a sister negotiates through her lessons.  And..and...if I write any more about what I'll be missing, I might not even let him go to college.  Moving on...         

And then there's this one haunting fear--one that quickens my heart and causes me to look back at my anxiety notes from yesterday's sermon by Pastor Brett--a fear that I probably shouldn't even write, but maybe if I put it on paper, I will see the error of my thinking.  What if he falls?  What if we lose him?  What if the faith we've planted falters?  Will I forever look back on this decision as the loss of my sweet son as I know him?    Even as I write that, it seems irrational.  It seems faithless.  It seems fearful.   The faulty idea that keeping him home guarantees his heart.  Can God not save my son wherever he is schooled?   I know homeschooling will not save my son.   Only Jesus will.   And I've seen some fruit that makes me truly believe my son belongs to the Lord.   And if that is true, nothing...nothing...NOTHING...can snatch him out of God's hands.   Certainly not a school.  
The decision is not made.  
God might ask us to continue homeschooling him through high school. 
But if He asks us to send him, I want to be ready.   
Because I want to be excited for what God's going to do in his life, not sad about what it will cost me as a mama.      

For tonight, I'm a little teary...but...
Just because I'm sad doesn't mean it's wrong
Just because I'm scared doesn't mean it shouldn't happen.  
Just because things will change doesn't mean that it will be all bad. 
If God asks us to send him, He will also equip my son...  
And He will equip us to let him go...with joy.