I will not regret leaving the laundry and the dishes and the schoolwork undone on this beautiful, cool afternoon. I’ve lived here in the Deep South all my life, and these precious first few afternoons of breezy fall weather have filled me with a special joy ever since I was a little girl. This is no day for routine, no day for checking off all the boxes on my long to-do list. It is the first day since April when the windows are open all day long, and the house smells like earth and fresh air.
This is a day where it is so very easy to rejoice and be glad.
I will never regret cutting a couple of hours off our schoolwork today to surprise the kids with a spur-of-the-moment picnic at our neighborhood park with some friends. I will never regret this golden afternoon watching my older four children play together in our backyard while the baby naps (is he almost two already?). My phone is somewhere inside…on purpose. We only have one afternoon sports practice today, and I think I may have to forget about it. Especially if the child who is supposed to go does too. It’s too pretty for TV or taekwondo today.
I sit typing my heart out on my laptop at the beautiful picnic table Michael built for us this summer. My children play hard on the trampoline and on the big play set Michael built for us when we moved into our house a few years ago. I am sipping my afternoon iced coffee. The kids’ feet are muddy from the hours of cold front rain we got yesterday. They are playing silly games to make the three-year-old laugh. My three-year-old is still wearing just a shirt and a pull-up from his nap. I don’t want to interrupt their play with a fussy trip to the bathroom. (And I sometimes wonder why potty training is taking forever.) I watch this group of siblings from three to nine years old, and I pray yet again that they will be friends all their lives. I hear very little bickering, for once. For the moment. The sound of the windy cold front blowing this afternoon muffles their giggles.
I take a break from writing to be pulled by a dirty, chubby little hand with too-long fingernails over to the “boo swing” for a few minutes.
This is one gift of homeschooling for me: being able to go with the flow of our family life, in real time, taking off a guilt-free day or three here and there when the weather is too pretty or the cold season is too bad.
I do not know if I will always homeschool–or homeschool all of my children, for every grade. But as I judge by the fruits so far, dare I say this year is a good year. For one–maybe most importantly–my little guys, who are three and nearly two, are happily installed in a small Mother’s Day Out program right outside our neighborhood. The three mornings per week of quality time with my three older children has been a huge gift and game changer for my homeschool, for my older children, and for me. I have loved doing a morning of schoolwork at the library every week or so, taking regular field trips to the local children’s museum and planetarium, and having the space and time to plan the kinds of science or craft learning activities that are so hard to do with my little ones around.
Hungry bellies are calling me now. I hear the baby waking up from his nap through the open window. There is some kind of commotion inside over–let me listen for a minute–illegal eating of the chocolate chip stash from the back of the fridge. Somebody comes out and needs me to look at a rash. Another one needs a Band-aid.
Also, my laptop battery is almost dead.
It’s been a precious hour of time to write what is in me and around me, during a time of life when I don’t have much time to spare.
Sometimes my life can be so intense and I work so darn hard that I can find myself having a difficult time admitting when I have a good day. An easy day, even. At least…a day when it’s easy to love my life.:)
Today was a good day. A day to stop hustling for a few precious moments and just enjoy.
Just like today’s reprieve becomes such a special joy to me because of the months of heat that come with our climate here, this quiet, put-away-my-to-do-list afternoon is made more precious by how hard I do work most of the time. Isn’t that one of the most mysterious paradoxes of life? That we appreciate blessing and consolation, gift and reprieve, so much more because of our ordinary hard work and all of its valleys and struggles?
The Baby, as we all call him, has found his way into my arms now. He is dribbling chocolate chip drool onto my shirt and asking me for milk. One of his big sisters heard him wake up and got him out of his crib for me. I smile as I picture her special way of playing “mommy” when she gets him up from naps, tiptoeing into his darkened room and saying something very sugary and motherly like, “Did I hear a big boy waking up in here?”
I stop to snuggle and savor this little one’s small, sturdy body–still and quiet for once. He is not normally one to cuddle with me at all. I soak it in, until I am reminded stridently that the need for milk is fast becoming a life-and-death issue.
It is probably time to stop writing and start attending to my blessings again. Especially since three of the other children just presented themselves to me proudly full of mud from head to toe. I knew they’d get into that mud hole under the play set at some point. Sounds like early baths are in order, which means we just may be able to sneak in a few minutes riding around the neighborhood in the back of the truck with Daddy after dinner to ooh and ahh over our neighbors’ Halloween decorations. Michael and I caved this year and bought two small Halloween blowups: a baby dragon immediately and somehow christened “Fizbur” and a cheerful pumpkin, ghost and owl stack that were quickly named “Mikey, “Spooky” and “Owl.” A fuzzy spider family climbs through the crepe myrtles in our front yard. The kids are so happy.
At least for the rest of this beautiful afternoon and evening–even with all of the work ahead of me to put my house and family in order and to bed–I won’t be breaking a sweat.
We watched “The Princess Bride” last weekend on the wall of our carport with a new projector. Michael had quite the setup going on that night. If you know him, you’re not surprised.:) And why yes, that IS a play set on our driveway in the background; Michael is refurbishing it as a side project. (Again, if you know him you’re not surprised.:)
Baking apple pie with the apples of my eye one day recently. I’ve been willing Fall to arrive for weeks by breaking out my fall-scented candles and baking things like apple pie and pumpkin muffins. I usually start this behavior around…oh…September 1st:) I can’t help myself.
These little love notes mean the world to me.
Thank you, Pull-Ups, for keeping my children occupied for HOURS coloring the inside of your Sam’s-sized boxes. Genius.
Meeting friends at the park for one of the first sub-70 degree days of the Fall? Time to break out winter boots and vests, of course.