I saw you from a distance during drop-off for a co-op class. You looked a little worn out. It felt familiar and I thought I would send you a note to let you know you aren’t alone. Nor will it last forever. One day you too will be one of those moms who chirrup, “It goes so fast; enjoy every minute!” at the tired and haggard-looking moms you encounter. They won’t believe you either.
But for now, you aren’t there. And you can’t fathom the end to the treadmill of teaching, grading, breaking up fights, and trying to keep a very-lived in home clean enough to function in. I have been there. (Earlier this week in fact.)
I really do try to remember to “enjoy every minute!” but usually I am content just to survive every minute of the day. That’s ok too. I didn’t enjoy every minute of potty-training. But all my children are out of diapers, and not too long ago I realized the constant reminder to “Wash your hands!” was now habit for them. I could quit saying it. (Now, if only I COULD quit saying it.) I think empty-nesters would be more honest to admit that they didn’t enjoy every minute. But there is something to be said for finding something good in every stage of life.
I talk to myself a lot these days. When I really need a friend to talk to, they are all at work, and when they are home I am too tired to speak in complete sentences. So, I give myself little pep talks to keep me going. But I’m also finding that my kids are starting to listen to me, and sometimes they respond with intelligent or encouraging words. They speak in sentences, have great vocabularies and even better, they often say, “Thank you Mom!” and my favorite: “You should take a little nap.”
A while back, I had a full-time job working with other grown-ups. I hated to leave any work on my desk at the end of the day. Sometimes I knew I had to stay and push through to make an important deadline and not keep my colleagues waiting. I also learned when to leave and go home and make dinner and come back to work refreshed in the morning. In that job, and in this one, I have learned that I must prioritize the important stuff. You don’t go to bed when your asthmatic child is unable to breathe. You don’t head out grocery shopping when someone is on the verge of vomiting. You don’t close your bedroom door when your teen is opening up to you about cheating on a test.
On the other hand, I have also learned there is always more to do and I’m not very good at doing it when I’m tired and hungry. Sometimes you close the book, send them out to play and start making dinner. You take a deep breath and sit on the porch for 20 minutes when you realize you are going to have to explain how to do long division AGAIN.
I have struggled recently with losing my spontaneity. I like sticking with a schedule. I must remind myself that it is better to slow down and make sure my children are learning the key things than to rush them through as they are trying to learn something important. I also frequently lose that playful spirit that makes me a fun mom. I find it easy to get focused on failures instead of successes. Are you still having fun?
Not long ago I was talking with a stressed-out friend. She was burdened by too much to do and started ticking off what she was doing and trying to determine what she could quit doing. When she came to homeschooling, she realized she WANTED to homeschool her kids. “I would be sad if I wasn’t homeschooling.” I responded, “Me too.”
When I saw you today and realized you looked so weary, I remembered that conversation. It sharpened my focus a little bit. I’m still tired. But I’m happy I get this time with my kids. A decade from now when my kids are grown and gone, I’m going to do my best to remember not to tell moms with young kids to “enjoy every moment.” But in the meantime, I’m going to try to treasure more of the moments.
A Slightly Disheveled, Type A, Exhausted Homeschooling Mom
Photo Credit: iStock