My husband is the full time pastor at our church where we have been serving for nine years. When the Lord first called us to this sweet congregation, we only had three children at the time, and they were young: 4,5 and 7 years old. As most of you know, getting small children dressed, fed and ready for church is nothing short of a weekly miracle. Add to that the pressure of being on time because you're "the preacher's wife". And then, as if things weren't challenging enough, we decided to have another baby. (Who needs easy, right?) Sundays became an athletic event. By the time we arrived, dropped off the baby in the nursery, and claimed our designated pew, I was usually exhausted! (not usually; always) My task for the next hour was to keep three wiggly bodies still, quiet, and reverent. Whatever. Anyway, time has a way of silently slipping by when we've got our hands full of diaper bags, PB&J sandwiches, and story books. Gradually those things were replaced by purses, bibles, and Sunday School books. Before long, the youngest was old enough to join us for service and once again I was shushing loud whispers, catching hymn books before they could hit the floor, and generally trying not to cause a scene. Our Sunday line-up was youngest on my right side, followed by child two, then one; next-to-youngest on my left. This seating arrangement was strategically designed to minimize fighting between my darlings, and also provide the fastest escape route if I needed to make a quick exit. But little by little, week by week, I heard more of the sermons and less noise. I spent more time worshiping and less time wrestling.
A few weeks ago I sat down in "our pew", settled my purse and bible, and read through the bulletin. Hearing the music which cued the start of the service, I suddenly realized I was sitting alone. I remembered my oldest son was in the back, running the audio visual equipment. I smiled, proud of the fact that he was already serving his church at a young age. Glancing around, I spotted my oldest daughter sitting with a new teenage girl from another country. She went out of her way to befriend her, knowing how hard it is to find a place where you fit in, even in church. I noticed my younger son, just promoted to the youth group, sitting with a couple of older boys. Had he really been hardly more than a toddler when we first came? And then there was my youngest, my baby girl, just promoted from the preschool department to the children's, sitting a few rows up by her best friend, whispering and doodling. My smile quickly faded as I realized they were suddenly growing up. My first instinct was to enact a new family law stating that we must all sit together on Sunday mornings. Just as quickly I realized that they needed this freedom, and that it was both right and good. The reality of the fact that I am now in a new phase of parenting stung my momma heart just a bit.
I also realize this same shifting of seasons is unfolding in our home school. Days of phonetic readers, tears over handwriting, counting with blocks, and messy art pictures have passed. I have one navigating algebra and biology independently. Two others don't need my help much past math. My youngest is just starting to read and I am savoring every minute, knowing that in just a few short years, she'll be the only one left at home when her older siblings are off in college. A few more short years after that and the last of my chicks will leave the nest empty. Then the books and papers will be gone, the house will be tidy, and I'll sit alone at the kitchen table that was once the school table. I fully expect to look into the lives of my young adult children with pride and gratitude for the years we had together but I'm sure there will be a few tears, too.
So, as difficult as it sounds, enjoy the hard days. Savor the struggles. Embrace the season you're in and treasure the moments you've been given.
I know some days seem like an uphill battle, friend, but I hope you are finding joy in the journey! I'd love to hear your thoughts below, especially if you are a seasoned homeschool mom.