Monday, August 19, 2013

Five Point Calvinism (and Why I Think It's Nuts)

Preface:  This is going to be a lot of doctrine. A lot.  Deep theological stuff that may or may not matter to many of you.  If that's the case, please feel free skip this entirely.  It will likely bore you to death.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

The Thief of Joy

I've noticed something about myself that I'm not proud of.  (Okay, that's not entirely accurate.  I've noticed LOTS of things about myself that fall into this category.  But for the sake of today's post, let's just focus on one, shall we?)  Here it is:

It is really hard for me listen to someone speak well of their 
choices without feeling like I have to defend mine.

When my foodie friends talk about eating well, instead of being happy for them, I feel the need to defend my apathy on the issue.  Instead of hearing them say how they feel better when they eat better and how cutting out wheat/dairy/food dyes/whatever has helped their child's ability to focus, I make excuses and can even start to feel like they are attacking me because I feed my kids processed chicken nuggets.  I hear them telling me that I'm a bad mother.  A fat, bad mother.  Let me be clear here, they are saying no such thing.  They aren't talking about me at all.  I'm just narcissistic enough to make it all about me when it's not.

It's bad enough that I feel this way with the foodies but the other day I felt this way when someone was telling me the things she likes about her church.  Instead of hearing how God was working in her life I heard "We do this better than you do.  We are better than you.  You suck and so does your church."  Again, she said no such thing, but I had to bite my lip and force a smile to avoid getting defensive.  I was getting defensive because her church did something well that mine struggles with a little bit.  Um...that hit me like a ton of bricks.  Even as she was talking, a war was waging in my head about how stupid my internal dialogue was.   My church does lots of things well.  What kind of person thinks like that?  Turns out, it's me.  I'm the kind of person who thinks like that.  Boo!  I don't want to be that person.

My response is a direct reflection of my own insecurities.  When I hear "You're a fat, bad mom.  You suck," that voice isn't someone else's, it's my own.  It's me knowing that making better food choices would make for a healthier family.  It's acknowledging that there are issues in my church that are less than perfect; that there are areas in my life that I really do suck at.  But mostly, it's fear.  It's fear that I am a failure.  Fear that someone else is doing it better.  Fear that I am not doing enough.  Fear that I am not enough.

Am I alone in this?  I doubt it.  When people find out that we homeschool, so many of them jump straight to the "I wish I could do that but I'm not smart/patient/you-name-it enough" line.  We don't homeschool because we want others to feel bad about sending their kids to public school.  We homeschool because it's right for our family.  Would I love it if more of our friends shared our vision and journeyed with us on this road called home education?  Of course!  I would welcome them with open arms and support them in all ways I could.  Do I look down on my friends and family that have made a different choice?  Absolutely not, but I'm afraid that sometimes, unintentionally, I have made people feel that way because I have spoken passionately about a choice our family is happy with that has nothing to do with them.

When my friend decided to eat healthier, she did it for her family, not for mine.  When my friend decided to go to a church that values things differently than mine does, she did it for her family, not for mine.  That I somehow make these things about me is ridiculous.  

I read a great quote somewhere. (Probably on Pinterest, because you know, that time-sucker has drawn me in.  I have a great board full of hilariousness.  You can follow me if you've already entered the vortex.  If not, run away, run fast, before Pinterest gets you, too.) 

Here's the thing. Somewhere on the planet, someone is doing it better than I am.  Someone is also doing it worse.  It doesn't matter what "it" is.  I will never, ever, get it all together.  I am not enough.  Alone in my thoughts, I will always be an insecure, fat, bad mom.  Only when I take captive every thought will I be able to live a life that is free from such comparisons. Only then will I be able to live the life I was meant to live.  I have yet to arrive, but it's a journey I've at least started.

Comparison is the thief of joy.  Don't let it steal yours.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Back to School

It's the end of August, otherwise known as Back to School Season.

All over the place, mommas are talking about sending their kiddos off to school.  TV commercials, facebook posts, magazine covers and even real life conversations seem to all be shouting "Back to School!  The kids are going back to school!"

Some moms, mostly the young ones with brand-spanking-new kindergarteners, get a little teary when they talk about it.  They're going to miss their kids.  Their babies are growing up too fast...sniff.  Sigh. Hug.

There are those who can't wait to get the kids out of their hair/house.  "Woo-hoo!  Only nine more days until school starts!  Can't wait!  Mommy needs a break!"

As a homeschooler, I don't really have experience as either of these mommas.  I have never dropped my kid off at kindergarten and when school starts, my kids are still with me 24/7.  August isn't usually even that big of a deal because we usually try to do some kind of school year round and then sort of ease into a full day.

First Day of School Fail

Well, today was Year 5, Day 1 if homeschooling. It went well...for about 2 1/2 minutes. I am not even kidding. 

Overslept and got started an hour late. No biggie, as I'm not a slave to schedules. It does mean that I skipped the shower. I should have known it would all be downhill from there.

We didn't even get through the devotional before my 10 year old was up, leaving the room, looking for his glasses. (Still unfound, btw.) Got that taken care of, read about how God loves us when we're tired and how we can lean on him. Seemed appropriate. If I had only known how much so!

My printer/copier wouldn't work, so those cute little cut out pages I had planned for my 3 year old to do --- that didn't happen. So instead of practicing his fine motor skills, he was bored, i.e. running with scissors and threatening to cut up anything within reach. 

My six year old was NOT happy that first grade is going to be a time to actually work, so he didn't. After writing his name on his new HWT book, he needed a break. I asked him to collect the laundry and that turned into AN HOUR of crying, hitting his little brother (luckily, he'd put down the scissors by then!), and just being generally annoying.

Meanwhile, I had assigned one page (I am not even exaggerating, there were SEVEN words!) of HWT to my 10 year old. Thirty minutes later, he wasn't even close to done. Seriously? Seven freaking words!

An hour after starting out with all my grand plans, I was reduced to a screaming, stinky because I didn't shower, crying mom with a migraine. Public school starts here on Thursday and I informed all of my children that they would be going. The little boys wailed, grabbing on to me like a life preserver, the littlest saying, "Me too little to go to public school!" My 8 year old daughter, bless her, had done nothing but what I had asked of her, and now she was bawling as well. The 10 year old just glared at me.

I tried to retreat to my room, to regroup, pray and avoid social services needing to intervene. Not gonna happen. My 10 year old decided I needed to be parented. I remember my mom saying that I did this often as a kid. I totally got paid back for that today. 

As I'm lying on my bed, desperate to calm down and needing to get a grip, Eli is parenting me from my doorway, "Mom, have you gotten yourself under control yet?"

"I can't do this everyday, son."

"I can't do this everyday, either, Mom. You have broken the hearts of every kid in this house today. Including mine."

Wow. Take that, Super Mom. You are a failure. You suck at this. You have broken.their.hearts. 

Enter the rest of the minions, all sobbing, but all laying on me, leaning on me, hugging me...loving me in my failure. We cried. We talked. We decided to keep trying. 

That was this morning. This afternoon we cleaned up a little, ate lunch and the kids are playing - not fighting - with each other just now. 

Today was a miserable failure. I'm not going to even pretend that everything is better now, because it's not. We didn't get anything done and our soft-launch turned into "Houston, we have a problem." My best hope is that, like Scarlett said, "Tomorrow is another day."

So take heart, homeschool mommas (and daddies), your first day will almost certainly be better than mine.