It’s been two months since my last post to First Heralds!
We’ve been swept up in many events and opportunities, a few very sad, most of them wonderful. The sad included the strange illness and death of Sunshine, our sweetest hen. She swallowed a nail, which pierced her gizzard. I know she was “only a hen” but to us she was a cherished pet and brought many smiles to all of us.
On the upside, we enjoyed a fun late summer with lots of swimming, reading, and daydreaming. My other blog, Catholic Attachment Parenting Corner (CAPC), is keeping me busy with writing, editing, and publishing our beautiful autumn newsletter. I’m on the radio every two weeks now as a contributor on parenting to the program More2Life on Ave Maria Radio, which is hosted by Gregory Popcak and his wife Lisa. I’ve stepped up as a volunteer catechist in my parish, and stepped down as a volunteer staff attorney for a large California-based homeschool advocacy group, a position I held for nine years. It was time to pass the satisfaction of service on to somebody else, somebody with more time and a fresh, energetic perspective.
We’re settling in to the new school year, like so many other homeschooling families. We’re having harder time getting focused this year. I think it’s partly because we’ve had house guests and partly because I’ve been preoccupied by the hope I have for the new Faith Formation year at my parish, the vision emerging for CAPC, and planning for our dog Daisy’s pregnancy. (She’s officially pregnant and due near Thanksgiving!) When I’m distracted, my children are distracted – at least my three youngest ones. They look to me for cues about how to feel about the day, how to respond to some of the news we’ve received, and how to handle transitions into new experiences and opportunities.
When I prepare myself mentally, physically, and spiritually for the homeschooling journey I’ve embarked upon my entire family benefits. This preparation is a process and an exercise in commitment, reflection, and surrender.
I must commit myself not only to our daily lessons plans, but also to the routine and the rhythm that works best for my children, to our seasonal habits and liturgical festivities, to all the things that bring balance and meaning to the Cameron-Smith home. I must reflect daily on the kind of persons I want my children to be and make decisions about how to help them get there. I can’t order them to be kind, merciful, loving, and courageous; I have to model those virtues and guide them in recognizing them, cultivating them, seeking them. I have to surrender to God’s will for me and for my family no matter what plans I may have — today, tomorrow, every day.
This process is certainly difficult at times, but when I don’t make the choice to engage in that process, we inevitably lose our way, my homeschooling vision is lost, and my kids feel chaotic. It’s easy for me to focus on what I want to do with my children: which books I want to enjoy with them, projects I want to share with them, and experiences I hope they’ll immerse themselves in. But unless I am willing to participate in the mental, physical, and spiritual process necessary for me to stay focused, I may discover months have passed and I’ve forgotten about my dreams for my sweet children. We might have covered the basics, but I might forget about my cooking plans with Claire or the cute nature study books I bought from Simply Charlotte Mason for Dominic or the weekly Bible history study I prepared for all the kids. I must keep my end in mind.
So today I took a quiet step back. I’m remembering today where I’m going and why I planned to go there. When the morning seems pretty much the same as yesterday morning, when spelling follows grammar each day, when we unload the third load of dishes for the day just like we do every day, it’s so easy for all of us to lose sight of the Big Point of homeschooling, whatever that might be for each of us.
Whatever it takes to keep that Big Point in mind – engaging in a kind of process like the one I described, writing in a journal, hanging a note on your bathroom mirror – it’s necessary to elevate the Big Point in our minds and lives. Otherwise, we might lose sight of it in the wonderful messiness of living — especially when the messiness involves Labradoodle puppies!