I homeschooled my three kids for five years straight. Like any endeavor, it had its pros and cons, but overall, homeschooling fit our family well.
Then God opened the door for my kids to attend a small Christian school.
In the weeks before their first day, we ambled through store aisles, armed with much excitement and three separate school supply lists. At home, they eagerly scrawled their names with black Sharpies across each glue stick, crayon box, and pair of scissors.
They were ready.
The first day of school arrived, and a mix of emotions swirled with the acid in my stomach. I saw them to their lockers, made sure they had everything they needed, and kissed them goodbye.
Then I drove away in an empty minivan. Alone.
I walked through the back door of our house, and didn’t quite know what to do with myself. It was only 8:15 in the morning, and it was so quiet. I looked around, and the only company I found were the guppies and sword tail swimming around in the fish tank.
It took me weeks to adjust to the after school rush of three sets of homework, permission slips, reading records, and book orders. I wasn’t prepared for the spelling lists, the memory verses, and the math problems.
I was shocked that of all of us, I was the one struggling most with the transition. I was talking to the fish, for crying out loud.
My cheeks flushed with embarrassment when I realized that sending my kids to school took such a toll on me – both physically and emotionally. Millions of people have done it every day for decades. Why was it such a big deal?
Eventually, I got used to the new routine. I came to enjoy it, actually. I began to savor my free hours and made the most of the unique season. I spent more time writing, tackling house projects, helping with school parties, and meeting with friends.
Then the tide shifted. Unforeseen circumstances led to our return to homeschooling after just one school year.
I was surprised by how sad I was about the change, given my sense of disorientation at the beginning of the school year. I had really grown to love the Christian school community, and there were so many people and other aspects that we would dearly miss.
As the year drew to a close, I found myself grieving over the coming loss. Spontaneous tears threatened to fall at any given moment.
In the days when I felt most fragile, I resolved to blink back the sadness and consider the year as a gift. That’s really what it was – a precious gift from the Giver of all good things.
Rather than being consumed with lament, I asked God to give me a deep gratitude for the gift of that school year.
In her book, Girl Meets Change, Kristen Strong writes, “When we spend all our energy wishing things were different, we have no strength to revel in the glory of the blessings right in front of us.”
This was so true for me.
When I sent my kids to school, I missed them at home during the day. I felt like I had lost my job.
When we switched back to homeschooling, I mourned the fact that I would never go to the grocery store alone again. My daytime writing hours were over. The house would no longer be tidy. My social calendar was about to be amputated.
Yet with the Lord’s help, I learned to embrace the change. I can now purposefully look at the past and the present as a gift.
Yes, there is still a tinge of sadness when I think about our absence from the school community, and days when I feel overwhelmed by homeschooling. But God has helped me to see that not only is He present in change – He always uses it for my good.