Yesterday’s post was my reflection and celebration of our successes these past several months. Today, I bring you the the bad and the ugly side of things.
Not everything is rosy around here, folks.
A friend of mine once told me some advice a homeschooling mother had shared with her:
You can’t have it all, and you can’t do it all.
Truer words were never spoken.
So guess what?
You cannot have a spotlessly clean house AND a delicious home cooked meal, AND a stellar home schooling day all in the same 24 hours.
So take your pick, cuz you ain’t no superwoman, and somethin’s gotta give.
My power and water were both shut off in the past 6 months. During that time, we’ve also had home AND car insurance cancelled on us. Yesterday, I called in to Comcast to pay $236 in past due bills in order to restore the internet services which make this post to you possible. And all this not because we can’t pay our bills, but because I routinely FAIL to pay our bills. Or open the bills. Or even get the mail.
For that matter, we’ve overfilled our (townhouse) mailbox at LEAST 5 different times in the past several months, and have had to run down to the main post office to pick up the ginormous stack. The 2nd time this happened, the old guy who handed it to me, as I was apologizing, asked, incredulous–how do you guys pay your bills? …
um…actually, I don’t. That often. To my husband’s absolute frustration.
Last year, I planned this awesome “Day in Ancient Egypt” to take place at my house. I stayed up til 2am getting all these great homeschooling activities ready. We were going to be making and decorating miniature sarcophagi, mummifying Ken dolls (sorry, Barbie) and dressing up in our carefully-homemade costumes. I was just about ready for our friends to arrive when the doorbell rang–15 minutes early.
It was some dude in a truck, hired by the electric company to come shut off our power.
Profusely apologizing, I frantically begged him to let me pay the entire balance right then and there–just please don’t turn my power off…
Sorry, ma’am. There’s a tracking device on my truck, and they know I’m here. I have to shut your power off. You can call the power company to pay your bill, but service won’t be restored until tomorrow, or 3 days from now at the latest.
I was ashamed. How could I be so stupid? How does someone stay up til 2am making mini sarcophagi but doesn’t have enough wisdom to take the time to pay her bills?
My husband was so gracious and forgiving when I called him to tell him.
My girlfriend showed up 10 minutes later and hugged me and encouraged me through my tears.
Amazing that when I share pictures of that day, what you see is a pile of smiling kids, cool costumes and hands-on activities. What you don’t realize is that the electricity was out, and the mama taking the picture was pretty much feeling like a failure at life.
Everything was ok, in the end. It ended up being a beautifully sunny day, and we actually didn’t notice that we didn’t have power (except when I was confused as to why my glue gun was not heating up..) and when we still didn’t have power by the evening of the next day (after paying our bill in full), friends in the neighborhood let us stash food from our fridge and freezer at their place so it wouldn’t spoil.
Why do I find it so difficult to pay the bills or even regularly check the mail? Why, even when I set up auto bill pay with our bank, do I STILL somehow end up late?? (not kidding, I can’t even remember my own usernames and passwords for all these online sites that are designed to make these things easier).
The bottom line is this: each day, I feel pretty maxed out just doing those basic things I mentioned up at the top…keeping the house clean (forget spotless), keeping my people fed 3x a day (not a lot of gourmet going on around here), and caring for and educating our 4 little ones.
It’s like, I know how to do these home-making things fairly well, and I love, I mean really LOVE the home schooling bit, but I stink at just about everything else that most people manage with ease.
Am I out of balance? Well…
Sometimes I live in denial and tell myself that it’s because I am super-committed to my children and their care and education, which is pretty much ALL consuming during these younger years especially, but really, it’s probably a balance issue that is to blame for
—bills not getting paid on time
–me not answering my phone or returning my friends’ and family members’ calls or emails for days..or weeks…or…ever?
–me not doing a stellar job at maintaining friendships outside of those in my homeschool circles. Though…I will say that I know this is a fairly common concern when mamas take on the responsibility of homeschooling. Friendships often suffer.
If you’re one of those friends who is on the outside, wondering what on earth happened to that person you used to hang with and why, since she began to homeschool, she doesn’t seem to care as much about you? …can I just say, she probably never intended to lose touch with you, and I bet she still really loves you and cares for you, but carving out precious time in the day to chit-chat on the phone like she used to, or up and come for a visit….is just really hard right now with all this parenting PLUS homeschooling stuff going on. And sometimes, your homeschooling friend feels isolated and lonely (and maybe even misunderstood or judged) and prays you will still love her when she finally comes up for air and isn’t just in “survival mode.”
I have precious, kindred, spirit-sisters who I rarely get to see or talk with anymore, and sometimes that makes me sad. And you can bet that the moment I get into the van to go anywhere alone, and my cell phone happens to be charged and in my possession, I am speed dialing every one of their numbers, one after the other, in a desperate attempt to catch up with them while I have a spare minute.
—THE laundry. I mean. people. There is no end. I stink so bad at this. I put it off til no one has clean socks or underwear. I buy new clothes for my kids because I think they have no pants or shirts or onesies..and then I find 257 when I finally get around to doing the wash. I need a system that actually works, and I need to stick with it.
I lose giant bins of hand-me-downs in the depths of our storage unit, and dress my 4th child in random, stained, ugly, off-season articles of clothing before finding said giant bin of clothes–only to discover he has already grown out of half of them. And I imagine how well-dressed he COULD have been the past 6 months if only I was not such a loser in this department.
—Dusting, toilet cleaning, floor-scrubbing, window washing, and any other house chore beyond the daily surface stuff like redding up, vacuuming, loading and unloading the dishwasher, and making beds. I’m serious. I don’t do it. I doesn’t even make the to-do list unless we’re about to have company. Then I clean like a mad woman, and as I mingle with my guests, they ask, in admiration, how on earth do you manage to keep such a clean house amidst everything else on your plate?
And my husband just stares at me with this look, but doesn’t actually give me away because he loves me.
–-Cooking healthy food regularly. I used to LOVE making dinner, and these days, it often feels burdensome to me. Too often, I’m exhausted by 5pm, and so I throw together things that are easy, but not necessarily the healthiest. Or, more often than I like to admit, we eat our or order in. This drives the food budget WAAAY out of control in no time, and once again, I feel it all rests on me to improve, plan better, and change bad habits.
And it’s not like everything I’m doing on the homeschool front is always top-notch, while the house and relational stuff suffers. There is much that I wanted to do that has fallen by the wayside in the school department these past months as well.
To name a few:
–Latin. Yeah, pretty much non-existent. Maybe next year?
–Art Appreciation and Artist Study. Fail. We barely studied John James Audubon when we were studying birds, but all other Art Studies I had planned have slipped through the cracks.
–Music and Worship. There was a day (a couple kids ago) when I would awaken each morning with a desire in my spirit to worship the Lord. I would slip downstairs, pick up my guitar and sing His praises. It was often the first thing my kids heard when they’d wake up, and they’d come down to join in.
These days, I often wake up later than I wanted to, and I am overwhelmed with all that I need to do. Diaper changes, coffee, get breakfast going, help my husband get out the door to work, clean kitchen, start laundry, start homeschooling, get boys going with their play, care for baby, check email/facebook…then the guilt of not reading the word or spending time in prayer and in worship sets in. I’ve picked up my guitar like 5 times in the past 3 months. The kids love it when we sing and play instruments together and I think it is wonderful to worship together as a family, regularly.
I just wish I could say that it’s happening more.
–Arts and Crafts. Yup. You read it right. The Crafty Homeschool Mama herself hasn’t really been doing a whole lot of hands-on creating with the kids this year. Yes, there are other outlets where I’ve been creative…gardening and nature activities, plus home decorating and those Living History Events I shared about yesterday. And maybe it’s because academics are becoming more rigorous, but I really did not enjoy a lot of relaxed arts and crafts time with my kids in the past several months…you know, the messy kind kids love, where we gather around our table and just make stuff. My daughter sometimes asks me if I will sit with her in the evenings and do art. I feel badly that I don’t because that quality time together is part of her love language.
Bottom line–please know that when I share the good stuff, the successes, there are ALWAYS other areas that are not so great.
Do I want to do better in these areas? Of course. But perfectionism and comparison are joy-stealers and lead to condemnation, bitterness and anxiety.
We all have areas that need improvement in our lives. But we also have places where we need to just rest in God’s grace…or areas where we need to admit failure, and ask someone to help us.
Namely, Christ, whose strength is perfected in our weakness.
So for now, I’m taking it one day at a time as I learn to let go of things that don’t have eternal value, and to prioritize the workload in order to keep things more balanced.
I hope you are encouraged today, dear friend, that we’re all journeying together, learning as we go, and NONE of us has it all together!
May you find find joy and abundant grace as you seek the Lord and serve your families in the midst of all the busyness.