Wednesday, May 30, 2012

The Sabbatical Endeth

Last fall, I entered this school year thinking of it as a sort of sabbatical after 14 years of homeschooling, because I was sending my two youngest to public school, for 1st and 3rd grades.  It was still my 15th year of home educating, because I had 7th and 10th graders at home, enrolled in a virtual school, but I was hopeful that they would be pretty independent, and it would be a refreshingly light year for me. At the semester break, we ended up switching the 7th grader to the public middle school, so for the second half of the year, I only had one student at home (plus our 21-year-old son who is still at home, without a job).

So, was it a break?

Well, it ended up not being as much of a break as I had hoped for.  Some of B17's assignments were really challenging and rather overwhelming, and I often got involved in breaking them down and helping him get started. He'd have at least one or two of these a week.  They were great for his education, but not so much for my sabbatical plans!  I could see that he learned more and better when I helped him, though, and it was fulfilling to watch him grow in confidence and ability to take over and do more on his own.  His writing, especially, has really been strengthened this year.

And so has our relationship.  I discovered this year that my quiet son is a verbal processor.  Often, when he'd be in the kitchen at breakfast or lunch, or when something in his history lesson would provoke questions, we'd fall into great conversations that were hard to end. He's starting to really enjoy conversation with adults and discussing ideas and his thoughts. Removed from the high school setting, he's not consumed with social drama, and he's enjoying that freedom! The world of ideas seems to offer more inspiration for song lyrics, too.  We butt heads too, sometimes, but it's really been a great year with him, overall.

It definitely has been a less stressful year for me.  Although I have not had time for sabbatical projects I had hoped to get to--photo albums? writing? clean out the storage room?--I have not had 5 kids at home all needing me all the time, either.  That hasn't happened since I had the sixth child, I think!  My life didn't slow down to a snail's pace or anything--once everybody got home from school things were busier than ever--but during the day, it was nice to just keep up with life without having to push hard.

It helped that it was an extended time, too.  A vacation is a nice break, but a week or two is not long enough for your soul to catch up with your body.  It had been years of stress--not just from homeschooling but from moving, starting a new church and launching teenagers--and it was going to take more than a summer off to rejuvenate me.

Each morning, I kissed and hugged my little ones goodbye, and I would watch them get on the bus without a pang of regret or guilt.  I missed them during the day, but I knew it was right and good for them to go.  I felt I had so little to give.  Only recently have I felt a turn in my spirit, as if formerly empty places are now filled up enough to think differently about next year.

I'm ready to have them all home again in another week or two.

And maybe next fall....  But I will save that for another post!

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