This is the first year I've been "schooling" three kids, which has presented its own challenges. As has trying to school three children with a precocious two year old and a mobile nine month old running and crawling about. Nevertheless, we press on. Because that's just what we do. Because quitting and giving up and "I can't" are forbidden in this house. Even, and especially when it's hard. I'm a bit of a taskmaster in that way.
Things I am not a taskmaster about:
1. Keeping a clean house.
2. Following curriculum instructions exactly.
3. Drinking water instead of other tastier, bad-for-you beverages.
As I type, Sam is in St. Louis for five days, I am "down" with strep throat, and my house is a total disaster. I seriously hope I don't get in a car accident or fall out with a kidney stone emergency because if someone came into the house right now, I would die. Of embarrassment. But my kids are awesome. So I do have that going for me. Aside from a few minor mishaps, mostly involving a particular two year old's solo bathroom misadventures that are best left untold, they have cared for themselves well the past two days while I was laid up in bed watching Parenthood and being a weenie over a fever. (I don't handle fevers very well.) While this was the perfect opportunity for me to become derailed, yet again, we press on. At the risk of sounding too much like a Pixar character, we're just going to keep pressing on. Just keep swimming. Progress is progress. Even if it's imperfect.
Most days I feel like a mess, but that's okay. Because life is messy. (Just take a look around my house.) In my Ready, Set, School post in August, I mentioned grace being the theme of the year. Oh my goodness, is it ever. I'm loving grace. It's all going to be okay. In the middle of the mess, I'm digging in. I'm experiencing this life. Imperfect though it may be.
Imperfectly sandy. In every nook and cranny, even.
Sometimes the mess is in the form of a mysterious sticky substance in the two year old's hair. "What is that, Leah?" - "I don't know. Oh. It's milk." - "Why did you rub milk in your hair?" - "I don't know."
Sometimes the mess isn't a mess anymore because the big sister steps in to comfort a suddenly-scared-of-the-dark little sister with a tight embrace until they fall asleep in each others arms.
Sometimes we're just a sweaty, geocaching mess.
Sometimes Mommy and Daddy try to soak up a little too much life and Leah has to lay down in the middle of feeding turtles and take a little rest. (She's not actually asleep here. But we aren't exactly sure what she was doing.)
Sometimes, I'm so distracted by the rest of the mess that I forget to feed the baby and he has to eat drawer handles for lunch. (Objection, relevance? Sorry. I just love this picture.)
Sometimes we forego elaborate birthday celebrations in favor of finding 11 geocaches on an 11th birthday. At night. In the Target parking lot. And behind small businesses. In the trees.
Sometimes what was a big, huge mess last year turns out to be this year's greatest joy. This kid, right here? I could not be more proud of the young man he is becoming. I look forward to each day I have with his goofy sense of humor and his dizzying intellect and his tender heart for his little sibs.
Sometimes the mess I should have recycled months ago becomes the best toy on the premises.
Sometimes I rag on my precious middle child and her wild counterpart two year old sister, but the truth is, they're both pretty awesome. Sarah has requested the job of putting Leah down for her afternoon nap. She reads her a book (or four), then lays down with her for a few minutes until she goes to sleep. Sometimes they both do. You guys...I'm dying. This is the child whose door I would have to stand guard at for literal hours to get her to take a ten minute nap. Those messes you battles for hours at a time? In three years, you'll likely reap some sort of reward. The hard work is almost always worth it.
Sometimes it feels like I'm neglecting my littles for the sake of education or basic sanitation practices or those darn meals that need to be made. THREE TIMES A DAY. Then I look in the [disastrously messy] playroom and see this kid playing contentedly. In her snowflake shirt. In September. And I smile. Because, man, I love this mess.
You know why this mess is the best? Because it's the mess God gave me. This is my life, and I am forever grateful for every imperfect minute of it.
And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him. ~Colossians 3:17