If I Were a School Supply

When I was in elementary school, I loved pencils that had troll dolls on top. I also loved the pencils where the leads were stacked up inside the pencil, and you replaced them one at a time. But those were kind of ordinary.

There’s nothing ordinary about a writing utensil with a naked, crazy-haired troll on top.

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I loved to smooth the bright colored hair into points. I probably did this while my teacher was explaining algebra, which would explain a lot about me.

But the best part was taking that pencil, with the smooth pointy troll hair, and spinning it between my palms as fast as I could.

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ZAP! Crazy hair.

My life in the last two weeks has been like the troll doll pencil. I had an already kind of crazy life, but a kind of crazy that was smooth, familiar. And I threw it into chaos.

In case you thought I was nuts to homeschool and you’re primed with an I told you so, I will say that in spite of the chaos, I think this is the right decision for us.

But it is new, new and more new. And I like same, same, and more same.

There have been a lot of tears. And let me just be honest: they’re mostly mine. Not because this is really hard (it’s not) or because she’s hard to teach (she’s not). Just because I like to have everything figured out, and so far I have only figured out that it will be a long, long time before I figure it out.

And that while I figure it out, my family might be eating more frozen pizza than I prefer.

And Mary Bullock might be lonelier than she prefers.

I might be lonelier than I prefer.

And hungrier. Because I don’t eat frozen pizza.

How does one actually homeschool, attend to toddlers, and cook dinner? I feel sure there is an answer, but I have not stumbled upon a good one yet. And before you all chime in with crock pot, please understand that grocery shopping has not yet made it into the schedule, either.

And anyway, I’m not really in need of suggestions. I’m more in need of some grace. And the first person who needs to give it to me– is me.

 

 

**Also understand this: I do not believe that I’m not the only one experiencing chaos right now. For my friends returning to work, tending to new babies who don’t sleep, sending babies to long days of kindergarten, longing for a life you don’t have, trying to make so many things work and not quite having it figured out yet, there is so much love in my heart for you. We all have different circumstances, and life suckage is not a competition, this I know.**

 

 

 

I’m Lucky and I Know It, Clap My Hands

 

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This photo was taken almost exactly thirteen years ago, in the days before selfies. It involved setting a timer on my camera and dashing to flop myself back on the couch and look relaxed before the beep and flash. We’d been dating for about two weeks, but it felt significant enough to document. I mean, we had already exchanged I love yous, so I guess a self-portrait was in order.

Marriage is kind of a crap shoot, isn’t it? I mean, it’s intentional, and it’s hard work, yes. Lee might say it’s harder work than 99% of the general population. But what I mean is this: say you start dating someone when she’s twenty-two twenty-three. Three years later, you decide you can deal with this brand of crazy permanently and you marry her, and then ten years after that, you’re looking at a completely different person than the one you originally picked. She’s been through several hairstyles, four pants sizes, two jobs, no job, infertility, three pregnancies, three newborns, three toddlers (and the accompanying wrinkles and stretch marks), and she now resembles almost in no way the twenty-three year old you helped push through an unlocked window on your first date.

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What is that all about, anyway? It’s a wonder that so many people actually survive this.

I wish that I could say our marriage has flourished this last decade because I’m so good at it.

I’m not.

I think I’m just one of the lucky ones who chose someone who keeps deciding to choose her back. Even when I’m crazy, and selfish, and when I get hangry, and when I need a nap, and when I ignore the laundry until he has no clean underwear, and when I spread myself so thin holes start to emerge in the soles of this life.

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Lee: Thank you for choosing me every day. Here’s hoping we keep the fire department at bay for another ten years!

I love you.

 

 

Too School for Cool

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Mary Bullock started Kindergarten today! Doesn’t she look excited about this? I don’t know how excited she is, actually. We’ve been doing school on and off all summer, so I’m sure this doesn’t seem too different to her than the usual. Tomorrow is the BIG DAY in her mind because the boys go back to preschool and we start Classical Conversations. Then we have a Mommy + Daughter date at Cozy Tea on Wednesday. This is shameless pandering on my part, make no mistake.

The thing is, we didn’t decide not to send Mary Bullock to school because we thought she would struggle, or because she wouldn’t like it or adjust to it, or anything like that. Mary Bullock is much like both of her parents in that she loves school. So I’m not deluding myself into thinking that there won’t be some push back when she realizes that most of her friends are going to traditional schools all day while she will be with me. So my plan is to fill up her memory bank with all the perks of homeschooling so that when that push back comes, traditional school won’t seem like a mythical happy place with which our kitchen table cannot compete.

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Here is what I want you to know about this situation: I never imagined that homeschooling would be our life. On the contrary, I’ve spent the last five years dreaming of the day I got my kids in school and could live a life of leisure. Tennis on Thursdays? Yes, please. Solo grocery trips? Why, yes! Mid-morning hair cut? Sure thing. So it was just as much a surprise to me as it was to anyone that homeschooling was such an obvious choice for us this year. Of course, I never imagined that I’d be a stay-at-home mom, either. My imagination is untrustworthy, obviously.

We chose to homeschool for a whole host of reasons that I can never adequately articulate, but the bottom line is that none of our other choices felt right for our family. And by that I mean, our whole family. It wasn’t our last resort– in fact, I made the decision before I finished touring schools. I haven’t for a second dreaded it; I’m actually excited about it. Maybe more excited than my pupil. But I’d also be remiss if I didn’t admit that I’ve wanted to throw up for most of the day week. Hopefully that will go away soon. Someone tell me that it will.

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I don’t know how all this will go– maybe we’ll hate it. But at the very least, I know she won’t get dumber staying at home this year. But maybe, just maybe, if we’re patient and flexible, and if we listen more than we talk, and cuddle more than we fight, then by the grace of God, we’ll figure it out.

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And if not, then at least we tried.