It is probably the best homeschool advice I have ever received, and ironically it came from someone who has never homeschooled. I suppose it is good life advice in general. If you are a homeschool mama you know that there are great days and there are really, really hard days. It was one of those days that I was feeling overwhelmed. Of our five children, four are school age and all in different grades. The fifth, though not in school, has been diagnosed with autism so I still spend a great deal of time working with him on preschool stuff and speech therapy activities. Like any mom, I want to give each kid the very best of everything from education, quality time, and the best of me. Most days I fall so short of my own ideals that the gaping difference sometimes takes my breath away.
On one such day, I sat next to my husband and poured my defeated heart out as I tried to blink back tears that had already started to spill over. In his usual way, he listened to all my 572052 million words and then spoke only a few that managed to bring me a lot of comfort. He shared advice he picked up somewhere along the way in his career. He said, “you have too much going on right now and it’s like you can’t keep all the balls in the air. Some balls are made of glass and others of rubber. You have to decide which are which are which, and just don’t drop the glass ones.”
At the time I was overwhelmed and not sure I even knew which ones were glass and which were rubber! The obvious implications are so helpful: create students who are strong readers, cultivate a love of learning, help them pursue their unique interests and gifts instead of following a checklist to the letter. Yet, the next day there came a moment when I was being pulled in a million directions and my son tapped me on the arm. As I looked down, he lifted up a little discipleship book we had been going through together (although we had admittedly missed many days). He asked, “Do we have time for this today”? Tears immediately began to sting my eyes as a still small voice reminded me,
“You absolutely do know the difference.”
Maybe there is a time to shed tears over where we so often fall short, but it’s not ok to stay there. There is always another chance to invest, to teach, to shape, and to pour ourselves out. There are a million times a day God invites me to “come and rest in Him” or “come and be filled” so that I can pour that same life and love into my kids. And when I fall short of my ideal self (because don’t we always?) …. there is grace for that, too.
I am happy to say that many “balls” were dropped that day, but that wasn’t one.
As I think about this and stare at the Christmas tree I can’t help but notice the placement of the ornaments. We long ago invested in shatterproof balls because, let’s be real … we have a lot of kids. Because those kids love decorating the tree, I let them put up the ornaments and it usually looks like it was decorated by drunk monkeys. There are, however, a few ornaments that I always hang safely at the very top. They are different from the rest. They are fragile, they are important, and they represent special moments in our lives or just the members of our family. As I look at my tree, it’s a great reminder of how this time of year should look. Sure, it won’t win any awards for best tree. If you are OCD it might even make you twitch! Yet, the important things rise to the top and the other stuff, well it gets delegated out thrown haphazardly on the bottom.
This Christmas I pray that my life begins to look a lot more like that tree; that the important things will rise to the top and stay safe and protected because I prioritized them. The important things are usually fragile, you know.
So sweet Mama, I know you are trying your best in a Pinterest generation where it can be so stressful just sorting through all the real demands and the ridiculous cultural ones (I mean, do people really make their own soap?) I’m just proud I got my kids all showered today. It’s ok to let a lot of that go. It really is ok if everything on the checklist doesn’t get done today. There is no condemnation for the mom who buys jarred baby food, skips history today, puts off the mopping, or even takes her kids outside to play in the nice weather instead of doing that worksheet. I won’t even tell if you hit up Chik-fil-A because you are too exhausted to cook dinner. No one will remember in the long run. So don’t kill yourself trying to keep and million balls in the air and doing this all in your own strength. Take a deep breath. Ask God for His strength. Ask Him what is important to Him today. Let the rest fall to the ground.
Just don’t drop the glass.
“Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need.” – Matthew 6:33
“Anyone who listens to my teaching and follows it is wise, like a person who builds a house on solid rock. Though the rain comes in torrents and the floodwaters rise and the winds beat against that house, it won’t collapse because it is built on bedrock.” – Matthew 7:24-25