Sunday, March 6


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.

Beautiful too.
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.

And hope.

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.


Melissa said...

This post moved me to tears. One day I hope that I can be just a little bit like you because I know it would be impossible to be just like you.

mama of many said...

Michelle...Oh how I needed to read your blog today. Straight from your beautiful mother heart with a little Eyring on the side. You are an amazing mom! Thanks for helping my paradygm. Now I am almost happy I just got hit in the head with a tennis ball. I am going back to the trenches with a smile. I too had one of those little boys once upon a time.

Natalie said...

Michelle and Alec, you guys are awesome. I needed to read this, and I needed to read it today. And while our lives will never resemble yours in the slightest, we're so lucky to have you as family and friends and examples.

And I am SO crossing my fingers that my boys turn out as gorgeous as Alec when they're big.

Wendy said...

I loved your honesty in this post!

sariah said...

We've been thinking of you, and glad to see the tsunami for Hawaii wasn't too bad. Did it effect your beach much? My brother Josh, who lives in Japan, said his family is doing fine though it was pretty wild that day. Crazy stuff isn't it?

Idaho Sutters said...

Well said. I love you. : )

P.S. Yes, you did say "roll in the hay." haha

Amy said...

First, I can't stop reading this post! I have honestly had it open in my browser for a few days and I keep reading it!

You are amazing! You are an amazing friend and mom! Your kids are all evidence of that for sure!

Will you please squeeze Alec for me?! That day we spent with you guys at Alturas was so much fun. I totally came away thinking the world of Alec! I had never met him before, but I honestly have not met a kinder boy EVER! He was so sweet! When he helped me out to my car he was telling me how we must come see you guys in Hawaii, and he totally convinced me! :) I kept thinking about how in the world I could help Jake to become this kind, confident and sweet!

For weeks after that Jake talked about Alec. He totally made an impression on him. Jake noticed that Alec treated him so good. I like to think part of Jake decided he wanted to be good like that! I am grateful for his example!

I LOVE YOU SISTA! I hope you guys are all ok. I have been thinking about you a lot this last week!

Cassondra said...

Michelle, You are SUCH an inspiration to me. I appreciate this post. I love the quote by Holland - I totally needed that. I am very thankful to have you in my life and count you as my friend. Sure miss you guys!

Tana said...

What a great post. miss you!

christa said...

I miss you....oh, and love your guts so much too!

Jenn Granum said...

Such a sweet entry on your relationship with Alec. Honestly, he is the best teenaged boy I have EVER known - so you must be doing something really right! ;)