Saturday, November 13, 2010

On Writing and Blogging and Home Education

I know it's been awhile since I've posted anything personal or devotional.  The main reason for that is lack of time, of course. This year has been better than last year in terms of stress--I am not spread so thin, trying to do so many different things--but the things I am focused on this year have been just as time-consuming.  I am spending many hours a day with my three home-taught kids, especially on the tedious tasks of teaching one to read, bringing a beginning reader up to speed, drilling math facts, helping my 6th grader with writing projects, and sitting at the piano with one or another, lending confidence or help as new songs are learned. I have done this before, of course, but there is more required work and more accountability this particular time around, with the virtual schools that two are enrolled in, and the desire to please our fabulous piano teacher and continue the wonderful progress that B11 and Chicklet are making.

So I am thanking God for the time and energy I have right now to do this, and the patience He is giving me...because I'm not sure I'm going to make it through the whole school year this gracefully! It feels like so many other things in my life are piling up while I invest this time, which I trust and pray will pay off with more independent abilities as the school year goes by. I really don't like this beginning-level stuff, and I can feel the impatience and frustration under the surface sometimes. And I know that my biggest need is time for me.

I used to use blogging as an outlet, a creative escape, and even a way to get in touch with things I didn't know I thought or felt until I started exploring them in writing.  I used to find time to take one morning a week for a "sanity break," or stay up late to write a blog post or catch up on tasks.

But it just hasn't been happening for me lately. None of my kids are in a theater production this session, so I'm not taking the time while they are at rehearsals to write, as I used to.  Instead, for the last six weeks, I've had lesson plans to write and examples to find for the writing class I've been teaching at our homeschool group's enrichment classes, and I've had a few Sunday School lessons to plan, too.  Spiritually and emotionally, I have been preoccupied with cares that aren't really bloggable--meaning "able to be shared with the whole world." And I just had to quit reading other blogs nearly two years ago, so I'm lacking that inspiration.

Then a friend suggested we start meeting once a month to talk about our writing goals.  Though a part of me laughed at the thought of having any, I knew it might be an opportunity to stir the pot, so to speak, and I certainly wanted to encourage her.

What it's done has got me thinking about me, especially the part of me that has gotten lost somewhere in the busyness of being a mom, a homeschool teacher, a wife, a pastor's wife, and a church leader. There are so many demands on my time coming from all these roles; it's ridiculous to think about time spent on anything else.  But suddenly I am feeling urges to develop talents I was only beginning to discover, once upon a time.  I had promised myself that I could always go on and study further the oboe, the saxophone, piano, singing, drawing, painting, speaking, teaching and writing--all things I enjoyed and was good at.

It seems impossible, right now, to find time or money to sign up for classes or lessons. I don't know if I could even choose one of these things that I really, really want to pick up again. Writing seems the obvious one to keep developing, right here on my blog.  I know there is so much more I could do with it, if I really wanted to develop my identity and make a place for myself as a blogger, but that takes time, as much as it would to develop myself as a free-lance writer, novel author, screenwriter, playwriter or poet--all forms of writing I've considered trying.

But time I don't have...and time is also running out, in a sense.  My life is halfway over. I'm trying to live it as faithfully as possible, and I will never regret the hours I have poured into my children.  It was such a pat on the back to attend parent-teacher conferences at the Christian school, for Blondechick17 and B15. Teacher after teacher went out of their way to assure me that I had really wonderful kids.  They had good things to say about their academics, but it seems the main thing they wanted to convey were positive comments about their character, peer relations and work ethic.  Several times it came up that BC and B15 had been homeschooled up until last year, and each teacher registered surprise--they hadn't realized that--and then approval--"Well, you did a really good job!"

I hope that doesn't come across as bragging, but I need to record those words, for me. All the years of doing my best and worrying that it wasn't enough, it wasn't as thorough as it should have been or as comprehensive as they would have had in school, and knowing how much more I could have done if there had only been more time, or fewer younger siblings. And they are turning out all right academically and in more important ways. That's huge.

B15 encouraged me recently, too.  He's become friends with another family who homeschooled until this year; they just put all their kids in the Christian school, and he just commented on what good friends the siblings were, and then remarked that other students are always surprised at what good friends he and Blondechick are.  She has noted the same thing.  And it gives me another reason to keep putting in the time with their three younger siblings.

It's all a balance between gifts, callings and time.

Time is short, and I am out of it now.

How do YOU balance the three?


Jennifer Merck said...

A hasty reply from Aidan's basketball game : ). I resonate with your dilemmas and your balancing act, Jeanne, though we are not choosing the home-schooling element. There are many after school hours spent working with the children on projects and homework and re-teaching material that isn't coming easily. While I do not always find the perfect balance between gifts, calling and time, it is something I think a lot about. Lately, I have been touched deeply by a quote I read a year or so ago about the idea that no one knows who built cathedrals. Right now, my calling and my (most of the time) joy is to build into my children. There must be room for me, but there must also be value in the me that is Mom.

Linds said...

The older I get, the clearer things seem to be, and the one thing I wish I had focussed on more back then when I was on the whirling roundabout of kids and life is NOW. The present. Not yesterday or tomorrow. Just now. Taking each day as the perfect gift it is, and using the time wisely, trusting that God will give me the wisdom to make good choices.
Those choices have to include time for yourself too, without guilt. You see, Jeanne, you were created as a unique individual, and while the most important thing you may ever do is to raise your children to beautiful young adults, you are also called to be the person God created for a specific purpose. Which means investing time in your own talents, even if it is just for a short time.
It is not what I do, but who I am that matters. And sometimes the busyness can obscure who we are. Or be used as a screen to hide behind. Am I making any sense at all? Hmmm. Your dreams are signposts to who you are. So trust, choose one, and follow where it (God) takes you. I will be here watching with a grin.....

At A Hen's Pace said...

Jen and Linds,

Thanks so much for your thoughts, both so encouraging. Linds, I especially appreciate your wisdom and the perspective you have, looking back. (And that you still visit me--thank you!) Your comment "It is not what I do, but who I am that matters," is almost exactly a word God gave to me many years ago--I still have the Post-It I jotted it down on then. I'm considering carefully your other words as well.

Thank you both for your friendship!


Debbie said...

Jeanne, I find myself asking similar questions. While I don't have biological children, I do have spiritual ones to care for and often their needs seem to be far more important than my own interests in writing. I haven't found any answers yet, but it seems that when there's something burning in me, something I'm really passionate about, I find the time to write. I can't really rest until I put it on paper. Maybe you feel that way much more often than I do. Or maybe we need to be "practicing" more often even when the passion isn't there. I don't know, but I understand you and am here with you in the journey. Please let me know if you find some answers. There is one thing I'm sure of, though, God won't let us "miss" our calling, miss out on the thing He's created us to do. That comforts me and takes off the pressure.

Anonymous said...

hi :) sorry, this is unrelated, but i was searching the christmas song from the wind in the willows (a favourite book) and one of the first hits was a post you had written years back saying you had a version of it on a christmas folk music cd. you included a link, but it doesn't work anymore and i was wondering if you could tell me the name of that cd.
hope i don't sound like a creeper haha, i just really like that song and would love to have a copy of it to music.
Cheers and thanks very much xx


Crystal said...

Linds wrote what I was thinking (that would explain why we are such good online friends!) but I want to add another thought. In the last 5 years it has come to me that God wants me to serve Him by serving my family. That is contrary to what the world wants me to believe - no big surprise that God's way is not the way of the world, is it?! But He gave me the role and joy of being a mother for a reason and I honour Him when I enjoy that role. And I have His model of parenting to follow - His always giving, always sacrificing, always waiting, always loving model. So my calling and my time are my gifts with which to serve Him. Our children have their own families now and the model we provided for them (mostly unknowingly!) is often discussed and praised by them. Thank heaven that someone so much bigger than us was (and is) in control of our hearts and our actions! There will come many a day when the hours will stretch out for you and you can fill them. Meanwhile, rest in His arms and in His plans. I can tell by reading that your children are amazing - what a blessing! Take care!

MomCO3 said...

This post spoke to me. Sam's been talking about the book The Tipping Point, and the 10,000 hours it takes to get good at something. There are only so many hours.
You spend your hours well, Jeanne. Thanks for sharing.

At A Hen's Pace said...


Thanks so much for your good words. I appreciate your last thoughts especially--that does off take the pressure!


The name of the album is "A Kiltartan Road Christmas." Kiltartan Road is the name of the group, and it's an original song of theirs. I hope you're able to find it--it's one of our favorite Christmas albums, with a number of unusual Christmas songs.


I really appreciate your wisdom! You echo a lot of my own thoughts about my time, including the knowledge that eventually, I'll have more of it. (Although I'll probably have grandchildren before my youngest two are out of the house, and if they are close by--maybe not!)

CO Mom--

Yes, I read The Tipping Point, too...daunting to think about. (Wonder how many hours I've logged writing blog posts over the last 5 years? ;) But on the other hand, there is Winston Churchill, who took up painting later in life and said something along the lines, "Lessons are for the young--the rest of us must be bold." I should look it up and post the quote.

Blessings, all!


Anonymous said...

thanks, i'll look it up :) Cheers xx


Jessica said...

Thanks for this post. I don't know if there's a good answer other than the "one foot in front of the other" one. I can only get one thing done if I'm not getting other things done, so my best solution has been to switch my concentration from thing to thing . . . get the homeschooling plate spinning, then move onto the housekeeping one, spin that for awhile, then let that alone and spin the writing plate, then hopefully get back to the homeschooling one before it crashes to the floor . . . I get more efficient, I think, but there's a limit to efficiency and sometimes things crash. So then I start again. I haven't found any other way.

If you ever do though, you have to blog about it. Time permitting. :D