I no longer recognize myself. I’ve succumbed to wall washing.
About two weeks ago, I bought a two-pack of Magic Erasers. I thought I’d simply touch up a couple of high-traffic areas in our home, but once I began I soon realized two sponges would in no way suffice. Since Ralph was going on a Costco run for his quarantined mom and stepfather who had recently returned from Spain, I asked him to source some Magic Erasers. He valiantly returned home with two jumbo packs. I was in business!
Allow me a moment to explain how I came to this precipitous place.
For years, I prided myself by saying such things as, “An impeccable home is a sign of a wasted life.” If you’re one of those people, I’m afraid we cannot be besties. During the years we homeschooled, I sometimes bemoaned my girlfriends’ perfect homes. There wasn’t going to be that level of perfection around here. What with a Science project on the kitchen counter, an entire paper village dominating the kitchen floor, a homemade board game under construction (and its assorted pieces) littering the schoolroom floor, a tray of sand on the schoolroom table for letter formation practice, and books covering multiple surfaces (to mention a few examples), I was lucky to find an open area to dust.
Don’t worry, we didn’t exist in total squalor, but I did cling to the sentiment that had I spent my time cleaning ’til it was gleaming, I would have missed the point. We did clean as a family, all pitching in for regular maintenance such as vacuuming, mopping, dusting, and bathrooms, but I can assure you that I was not disposed to washing walls—or any manner of spring cleaning—until now. Continue reading “Becoming Clean”
Recently, and rather inadvertently, I plunged headlong into a full-time job as a Teacher’s Assistant. I say inadvertently because I wasn’t looking for a job. You might recall in my September post: “Letting Go With Open Arms” that I was celebrating my son’s recent wedding and the milestone of completing many years of homeschooling.
I enjoyed three weeks of pure bliss. By that I mean, for the first time since I can remember, I woke up without any real “musts” or necessary routine. No school to begin, no rushing to activities, and, miracle of all miracles, an empty house by 8AM! Truly an introvert’s dream!
But then it all changed. A friend happened to mention that the school where she works was looking for a person to fill a Para-educator position. I thought, I could help out…just until they find a suitable person (while silencing the “don’t even think about its” from my daughter and close friends). But since listening to others’ logic isn’t at the top of my list of strengths, I gave it a second thought.
It wasn’t terrible timing. I had recently sent the manuscript for my novel to the publishing company, and assumed I had a few weeks before the edited version would be returned. And so, I found myself crafting a resume for the first time since my teen years. And shortly after that, I landed full-time in a kindergarden class.
The work is exhausting, rewarding, eye-opening, and, did I mention exhausting? I awoke the second day and wondered how I’d managed to let my dream-like days dissolve so quickly, and if perhaps I should have heeded the counsel from my obviously wiser daughter and friends. After all, I was supposed to be writing, painting, and de-cluttering. All that to say, I’ve put aside, for just a little longer, all those dreams and goals I’ve long-held onto, to serve little people and one big person – the teacher.
So now, for the past three weeks, my days consist of bending over to decipher the sometimes not so fully formed words projected from little mouths, wiping crumbs from little tables, pushing in little chairs, and helping little souls learn their ABC’s, 123’s, and how to spell their names, so that one day they will know much more than that.
I now have a collection of painted masterpieces taped on my chalkboard at home – precious gifts from these little people. I also have a collection of memories in my heart too. I hazard I won’t soon forget the smallest of them all, a little lad who frequently takes my hand and presses it to his cheek while waiting in line to wash his hands at the sink.
On just my second day, while assisting the student’s hand washing routine, one little girl peered up at me and asked, “Are you staying for always?” And the next day, the same question from another. My heart ached because I knew I couldn’t; that my days there were to be only temporary. I’ll do what I can for the short time I’m there, care for and encourage them, hopefully make a small difference, and then go on to the other purposes for which I’ve been made.
And that’s really the essence of it all, isn’t it? I mean, the essence of our one life. Our days here are only temporary; we’re just passing through. Time is short, and we do the best we can with the short time we’ve been given, care for and encourage others, hopefully make a small difference, and then go on to the other purpose for which we’ve been made: our forever life with God in heaven.
So I’ll make the most of it all: the time with these treasured little humans, and the time I have with the precious others God has tucked into my life – both of which are laden with opportunities to serve God with the resources He’s given to us. We’ve been gifted with life, and, perhaps like you, when my days are spent I hope to reach the end and hear, “Well done my good and faithful servant.”
“Then the king will answer, ‘The truth is, anything you did for any of my people here, you also did for me.’
~ Matthew 25:40
“His lord said to him, Well done, good and faithful servant; you have been faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things: enter into the joy of your lord.”
~ Matthew 25:23
How are you spending your days? Look for ways serve those around you either with a small act of kindness or a word of encouragement.
Are there any adjustments you could make to serve God out of the riches and gifts He’s given you?
Eighteen years ago, I embarked on an unlikely journey of teaching my children at home. I only planned to continue until they reached high school, but the three oldest chose to home school through grade 12.
We learned a lot of things during those years, but what sticks with me the most isn’t the multitude of things we gleaned from books, but the things we discovered about life and ourselves. Those years weren’t always easy. Life still happened. And though I was far from a perfect teacher or mother, we came out the other side loving and respecting each other. Today, I am humbled and blessed by the close relationships we share.
Below is a random list of some things I learned. I’m sure I can’t think of everything, but these are a few that easily came to mind. Although it refers to our home schooling journey, I have a feeling you’ll be able to relate, or, at the very least, may find it an encouragement!
52 Things I Learned From Home Schooling:
1. Show up, even when you don’t feel like it.
2. Any effort is better than none. It all compiles.
3. Bear with one another.
4. Patience is necessary – it grows when exercised.
5. If it’s not working, try harder. If it’s still not working, try a different approach.
6. Meant to and actually doing the job are two very different things.
7. It’s hard, but nothing worthwhile is ever easy.
8. Quitting isn’t an option. Redirecting your effort is.
9. There’s no such thing as perfection, but hard work, perseverance, and a good attitude are a close second.
10. Don’t compare yourself to others or you risk feeling both inadequate and missing what you were created for.
11. Laugh. Cry. Start again.
12. Speak truth when needed.
13. Don’t worry about what others think.
14. Character, integrity, and wisdom are more valuable than all the knowledge in the world. There are plenty of intelligent jerks.
15. Figure out what your passions are and build on those.
16. Nothing is wasted. No effort, trial, or experience.
17. Put down the books, leave the work, and go outside.
18. Play often.
19. Be kind. Speak gently. Smile freely.
20. Not everyone will agree with you. That’s okay. Accept your differences.
21. Make your encouragements more prolific than your critiques.
22. Those entrusted to you rise to your expectations. Set the bar achievably high.
23. Forgive yourself and keep moving forward.
24. Even if it’s difficult, monotonous, or thankless, you are still making headway.
25. Nothing stays the same forever. Cherish now.
26. Life has seasons. Learn what you can from each one.
27. Read beautiful stories out loud to your kids.
28. Besides God, be your child’s biggest cheerleader.
29. Expect the best in others.
30. Catch your kids doing good.
31. Tell your kids what you like about them, and about the good you see in them.
32. Keep hugging your children even if they appear to no longer appreciate it.
33. A little mess won’t kill you.
34. Say sorry when you’re wrong, then ask for forgiveness.
35. What you do speaks louder than what you say.
36. Talk your kids openly about your faith and failures.
37. Let them work alongside you so they learn from you.
38. Help your children see the beauty in nature and in other human beings.
39. If possible, travel with your children. These experiences offer priceless bonding and provide hands-on experience they won’t get from books.
40. Teach them to serve others so they won’t be self-serving, but compassionate.
41. Guide, don’t control.
42. They aren’t you. Don’t try to make them be. Give them ample space to be who they were created to be. Celebrate their individuality.
43. Take each child out on one-on-ones. You get to know them better this way.
44. Love your spouse.
45. Set clear boundaries and stick to them.
46. Help them form strong habits to achieve their goals.
47. Champion their dreams.
48. Let them make mistakes.
49. Don’t do for them what they can do for themselves.
51. Let your children go and be the miraculous humans God made them to be. It was always the end goal.
52. Choose love first, always.
“Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds us all together in perfect harmony.”