We've been homeschooling for 17 years now. If I'm being perfectly honest, I will tell you that the last seven of those have been the hardest, longest, and most trying years of my life.
Seven years ago our 7th child was born, and when he was just 5 months old, I found out I was expecting number 8. I took a cheap pregnancy test in the bathroom of the grocery store where I shop and when it came up with the telltale blue line, I wept. I love every one of these kids, but that pregnancy coming on so close to the one before was like a sucker punch.
Seven weeks after our surprise number 8 was born, I found that sweet baby in a coma. The story is difficult and glorious to tell, but the end result is that he is permanently brain damaged. Six months later, I ran over our 5-year-old with our van. Do I even need to say that it was the worst moment of my life? A year later, we woke to find our 8-year-old in septic shock. She, too, lives with the lasting physical effects of an undetected ruptured appendix.
So yes, these past 7 years have been the most difficult of my entire life. Nowhere in these years has there been a break from educating the school-aged kids, either. That's one of the hardest things about homeschooling - there are no substitute teachers. I guess the upside is that there isn't a loss of income if I don't show up, either.
Somewhere in the management of this amusingly large family, during the weeks of hospital stays, numerous follow-up visits that are only accelerating this year for our brain-injured guy, and other inevitable detours amongst the daily grind, I've had to learn how to keep going.
Thrive? Sometimes. Not always. And really, there have been long-suffering months of barely keeping my head above water. Heck, there have been weeks on end of feeling like someone's strong hand was pushing my head under the water and feeling very, very small.
In my puniness, I had no place to go but to Jesus. That's always the only option, but when I'm not feeling pressed, I tend to shift my hope to pretty nearly anything else. Because I'm a stupid human, and aren't I so crazy thankful that Jesus stands in my place, in spite of me.
There are gifts, though. Scripture reminders through the songs my kids are singing in the kitchen (that's a silly affiliate link because we like those songs), long showers where no one can interrupt my thoughts or tears, and working out to let the pressure roll out of my muscles.
You have been given gifts, too. When the hard work of homeschooling collides with the unexpected catastrophes of living here on earth, remember Who saved you and look for the gifts. If it all feels like too much of a burden to bear, then somewhere along the line we have yoked ourselves to something that He did not. Where in the midst of the crumbling chaos are the gifts that God has given you? He faithfully doles out wisdom in generous measure so that the burden and yoke He places upon us is light. And there are answers, even if the answer is to stop homeschooling.
Let's talk about that soon.