Perhaps it’s strange to sit on my bedroom balcony listening to the sounds of the city at night. My husband likes to avoid the noise. I, on the other hand, find it oddly soothing. Someone, somewhere, is having a party, and the sound of laughter intermingles with traffic and the occasional siren. There are fireworks and fireflies and stars – little bits of sparkle lighting up the sky. I can see the silhouettes of bats as they flit by, nabbing up insects as they go. Down below, in the yard, I hear an occasional rustle. A skunk, perhaps?
We’ve carved out a good life here, nestled in the far east end of the downtown. It’s not a perfect life, but it’s a happy one, and I’m grateful.
I’m also tired. After seven years of homeschooling, we debated whether to put our children back in school. We ultimately decided that it’s not the right choice for us yet, so it looks like we have another year of home education ahead after all.
The truth is, I have mixed feelings about that. Peace, yes, but I also know that some things need to change. We spent a lot of time this past year running around like headless chickens. Every morning, we would rush through school work as fast as we could. Every afternoon and several evenings, we had something — a lesson, a field trip, a workshop, a group hike, an appointment. I kept trying to slow down, but then I’d say yes to one more activity, one more get-together, one more outing.
It was exhausting.
Choose your priorities.
Recently, I sat the girls down and asked them to choose their top two priorities. If you could only do two extra things this year, what would they be? Both of the older girls chose book club, which is an easy once-a-month evening commitment. My youngest chose French class because she gets to see her best friend. And all three girls chose youth group, which is a non-negotiable anyway.
And as for me? I choose my family. And that means I’m going to need to learn to set boundaries. Not because I don’t love or value people or activities, but because I love and value my husband, my children, and the other family members whose lives are intertwined with ours.
This season is short.
My oldest daughter is headed into grade 7. Two more years and she’s in high school. As I sit on my balcony listening to the quiet hum of the city at night, the weight of this is not lost on me. Nor is the peace that comes when I think about slowing down.
Homeschooling isn’t about cramming in as many extra-curricular activities as possible. It’s about the rich, slow beauty of learning and growing together.
(Next year, when I start to overload our schedule, remind me of this, okay?)