Twas the night before school started, and all through the house
Not a child was stirring, not even the one snuggling with the Mouse.
The schoolbooks were stacked on the kids’ desks with care,
Knowing that the morning would come and school would be there.
The children were nestled all snug in their beds;
While visions of science experiments danced in their heads.
And daddy with his iPad and me with my laptop
Had just plugged in our devices for their overnight rest stop.
When deep in my heart there began such a clatter,
I ran to the schoolroom to see what was the matter.
For I knew it dealt with anxiousness and fear
Those two yucky feelings I’d lived with last school year.
I found a piece of paper and began to write,
My heart full of emotions and my chest feeling tight:
“What will this year be like? What if I can’t do it again?
All those crafts and read-alouds and fill-the-blanks-in?
What if I just don’t have it in me to teach?
To model, to grow, to help my kids reach
for their bright future? And what about all those mistakes I made
last year when I thought I was so confident and brave?
I don’t want to be a stressed-out mess
Angry and frustrated when things don’t turn out “best.”’
And then I picked up my pen and started to write
Not caring if the words sounded strange or if they might
come back to haunt me on some dark day
when I’d chose to critique myself and make myself pay.
My words weren’t perfect but flowed from my pen
With the steadfastness of an honest heart deep within:
“How do I want to live out this year?
I do have a choice, even when my heart is not of good cheer,
To be flexible with all the changes that will come
(even if they are hard or I believe they are dumb).
I can choose to celebrate the successes, no matter how small
I can treasure them! I can store up them all
in my heart-of-hearts, ready to enjoy straightaway
When times are hard and I feel that I’ve lost my way.
What if I chose not to emphasize and stress over the tiny issues of curriculum,
Of tasks that “must” be completed, of pages that “must” be done.
What if I made this my burning,
My teaching focus, my heart’s bid:
To lighten up and enjoy this all-too-fleeting time with my kids?
Now this wouldn’t mean that I’d be closing
All those lovely notebooks and books I’d so carefully chosen.
There would still be a plan, lots of deep rich learning time,
Quality study and hills of knowledge to climb.
But I’d do it from a restful heart, you see
Because I was also pledging to take care of me.
I’d learned a lot about the importance of rest
And how the lack of it did not leave me at my best.
I remembered the days when I’d pushed myself too far,
Feeling I didn’t deserve it because I’d simply missed the bar
On what “should” get done for the day. So I pushed myself more—
my heart left empty and my soul feeling sore.
But that’s all in the past. I’m learning new ways
To give myself grace and to let all my days
Be seasoned with intentional shifts—
Small movements toward good, tiny expressions of lift
That bring freedom and wholeness to this fragile mom’s heart—
A joy and an expression: look what I’m becoming! A work of art!
This is how I will approach this year.
This is how I will live each moment not full of fear
Of the despicable “what-ifs,” the ungrateful “why can’t we’s,” and the unforgiving “shoulds.”
All the nasty joy-stealers—those rotten discontentments—that possibly could
Derail me from all this homeschooling life has to give!
I will stand strong, and I will confidently live
This precious calling that’s been given to me
The incredible privilege to simply grow, enjoy and to be
With my wonderful children day after day,
Embracing together the good and the bad that comes our way.
So my dear homeschooling friends, it’s my pleasure to write
(my heart feeling so much better, my soul feeling light):
Have a wonderful school year—one focused on love and grace;
Of sweet moments of discovery, of laughter and of a slower pace
Where less is more and fear takes flight.
Happy school year to all, and to all a good night!”