I am blessed.
I am one of those people who has had an amazingly blessed life.
And I am also one of those people who has had some crazy, not-fun-at-all life experiences that have come at me out of left field. Experiences that have left me feeling like I was paying for sins from a
(seriously wicked) previous life.
Not the least of which was the death of my infant son, which among other challenges, contributed to the severe depression of another son.
This led to the decision to take him out of public school and begin our journey of homeschooling together.
To give you some background, I never thought I would ever homeschool my children.
I would leave that to the denim-jumper-wearing, sprout-growing, hair-in-a-bun set of crazies who believed it was their calling to protect their offspring from the evils of government-controlled education.
(No offense to any of you who like denim jumpers, sprouts, or buns.)
I have since repented of this misconception.
Shortly after the (very difficult) decision was made and I had pulled him out of public school, I remember flipping through a catalog and seeing an ad with a picure of a mother standing next to a big yellow school bus. She was waving to her well-dressed offspring as they climbed the stairs of that bus. As she gaily waved goodbye to them and they to her, behind her back she clutched a book.
The book that she was finally going to have time to read.
I remember staring longingly at that picture.
That will never be me, I thought.
I still had little ones at home in addition to my school-aged children and I just knew that now that I had made the decision to homeschool him, I would never get the privilege of waving goodbye to all of my children and scurry back into the delicious silence of my newly-empty and orderly-for-the-next-seven-hours-home. I would never get to sink peacefully into the comfort of my well-stocked library--the library where I could reaquaint myself with the Bronte sisters, Jane Austen, C. S. Lewis, Nicholas Sparks and Louis L'Amour (hey, I grew up in the country...everyone reads Louis there.)
The book that that lucky mother clutched tightly behind her back represented, to me, more than missed opportunities for reading. It represented all of the things that I would be missing out on from now on--not the least of which were lunches with girlfriends, uninterrupted phone conversations, solo shopping excursions, and the occasional midday roll in the hay with you-know-who.
(Did I just say that?)
Needless to say, I was bummed at the turn my life had taken.
Bummed and bugged.
Soooooo...we struggled along that first year.
I am certain with no more grace than an angry hippo.
What have I done? was the pervading thought in my mind at that time.
Hitting and missing, mostly missing, what I thought needed to get "done" for school, we tried to figure out how it was all going to work so that we didn't kill each other before this child hit third grade.
As we tentatively picked our way through those first few years, all of my other children at one time or another chose to be homeschooled for different lengths of time.
Thankfully, this son and I have finally reached a tenuously beautiful place.
I say tenuous because at anytime, those doubts can creep back into my mind, causing me to question my decision and fill me with fear that I have ruined this child for life because I have subjected him to the education that I am solely providing for him.
So beautiful that I would not trade places with that book-clutching mother for the world.
What I have learned to do when doubts creep in, is to remember the state this precious child of mine was in when I made the decision to remove him from school. A state where it was preferrable for him to run through a swarm of bees on his walk to school so that he could ge sufficiently stung so as not to be forced to go, in his words, "to that prison".
(Yes, this really happened.)
And I rely on the words of Elder Jeffrey R. Holland,
"If it was right when you prayed about it and trusted it and lived for it, it is right now."
From this I have learned acceptance.
I have learned that from the most challenging of our mortal experiences can come the sweetest blessings...if we just wait and see what God can turn those challenges into.
So for now, my sweet boy and I are reading C. S. Lewis's The Screwtape Letters together.
We are discussing political systems and economics and learning about the history of the world.
We are reading the newspaper and studying current events and how they relate to the gospel and to our seminary lesson from earlier that morning.
We are struggling through math together.
He is self-teaching the subjects he is fascinated by, such as wind and weather patterns and the currents of the ocean, geography, surfing techniques and ettiquette, along with the practical skill of surfboard repair.
We are spending our days reading, studying, questioning, searching and discussing the things of this world and of the eternities.
We are bonding and learning to love each other as only a mother and son who have chosen to spend their days together can.
And lest those of you who know us well should think I am a liar, I will admit that we spend a little bit of time...okay, a lot of time, surfing.
We call it P.E.