Looking Back to Re-label Failure

Friday was our last day of homeschooling. Summertime has officially arrived in all its glory, but before we could fully jump into it, I knew that I needed to close out the homeschooling year. Especially because Caleb and I have decided that in the fall we're going to send our now kindergarten and second grade daughters to public school for a year. I knew we needed closure.

This year of homeschooling hasn't been as easy or as...'thriving' as I would have imagined it to be. I knew I wanted to homeschool; I also knew I was called to do it for this year. But I found myself to be more impatient, more bothered, more unsure and overwhelmed, more confused by figuring out the balance of all that I had to do than I imagined I'd be. When people have asked me, "How's homeschooling?" I've often replied, "Honestly, it feels like a discipline. It feels like dragging myself out of bed in the morning when I don't really want to go to the gym, but running anyway. It feels like continuing to run when I just want to stop and walk."

I think the fact that this year wasn't often 'easy and breezy' for me internally has led me to sometimes feel like somewhat of a failure, or that this year was quite possibly a failure. It's like I've thought that my struggle has disqualified me for success.

So, like I said, summer was coming closer and closer, and our last days rolled around, and I knew I had to bring closure to our year together.

I decided to take each of my girls out on a date separately...with me, "Mrs. Teacher." I wanted to help them see how much they had grown throughout the year, so I brought samples of their work from the beginning of the year, the middle of the year, and now. We looked together at how they've progressed. We looked over their journals and writing samples.

I also wanted to let each of them in on some of my mixed feelings about the sweetness and hardness of our first experience of homeschool ending. So we talked together about my emotions surrounding saying goodbye to "Sassafras School of Discovery" for now. We talked about our excitement for summer, and about what we each felt about public school next year. We cried together as "Mrs Teacher" said goodbye to them...and again as I told them that we were officially all done going up to our school room on the third floor of our house (for now). I gave them each a gift, showed them a note I had written to them as their teacher, and prayed for them.

And do you know what? I didn't really plan it out this way- I had just wanted to bring good closure to our year together- but something changed in my heart as I spent that time with my girls.

There was something healing in the looking back, in the honoring of how they had grown, even in the remembering together of how "Mrs. Teacher" had sometimes been grumpy and hadn't known what to do (but that they had been kind and gracious to her as she learned to be a homeschool teacher.)

It was like something loosened inside of my heart, something that had been clenched up all year, something that was wondering if I was failing, scared to death that I wasn't good enough, woman enough, mom enough, to succeed. But as we looked back on how the Lord had carried us through it all, through the overwhelmed times, through the stretched times, and had even caused us to grow and thrive, I was able to see the Lord's goodness where I hadn't in the day-to-day moments.

And I was able to see that the year, was NOT, in fact, a failure. And neither was I. The struggle didn't disqualify me. The struggle was a part of my success, because it was part of how all three of us grew in the middle of the discipline of homeschool.