I woke up at four-thirty AM, with an Evaline petting my face and her leg draped over my hip. Along with repeatedly nudging her off and away from me, as the radiator hissed and filled our bedroom with so-much-heat that I couldn’t uncover enough to feel comfortable, I went through my usual routine in the dark hours of the morning and spent the next few hours in the space between trying to sleep and trying to place each anxious what-if and worry back into bins of rational, useful, productive thought.
When Alex and Dharma barged through the door at 8:20, I had just barely started to fall back asleep, and groggily realized, we only had twenty minutes until we all had to be fully dressed and out the door. I sent Alex to start the van and check and fill the tire that repeatedly runs low on these cold mornings.
By the time we finally all managed to gather ourselves with brushed hair and coats on, even with one of us still in shorts and a t-shirt underneath (Asher), I was mightily struggling to be happy and upbeat, rather than rumpled and tired and grumpy, as I locked the door.
Remember when homeschooling was simpler? I thought (Because everything always looks simpler in the rearview.) When it was just the kids and I, slowly taking on the morning, together, in pajamas. I could drink coffee and they could rub sleep out of their eyes while we read a devotional and discussed a Bible verse before starting in on phonics and addition? And we could take little field trips to local parks? And I wasn’t their taxi or an overly stern disciplinarian, making sure they handed in projects to teachers online, but more of a guide and part of their process? We used to be all in it, together a bit more, in little things throughout the day, I thought.
As we drove, my thoughts drifted back to the ones that had kept me shifting in and out of the blankets and struggling to sleep. Grievances and frustrations, I shouldn’t be holding. Worries, I shouldn’t be having. Lists of things I need to get done, that maybe I really don’t. So much noise, rattling.
Behind me, Asher pulled a folded slip of paper from his pocket, a bible verse from their monthly LAUNCH children’s program at our church.
“Be kind and compassionate to one another. Ephesians 4:32,” he read.
“What was that, buddy?” I made him repeat himself, as I shook away all of the five AM clutter.
Be kind and compassionate to one another. Ephesians 4:32.
I repeated the words.
We talked about the verse and how we can apply it in our lives, how it’s one of the easiest and hardest, at times, to do. How kindness when we’re frustrated, is a choice. How compassion, when we have differences, is a choice. And how, giving kindness and compassion, frees you, as much as it blesses anyone else.
It was a moment of me, letting myself hear the (much-needed-to-be-heard) verse with a fresh heart, courtesy of my ten year old.
Who then, plucked a connected pair of Goldfish from his snack bag, and pronounced them Romeo and Juliet, because they’re kissing!
And we all giggled.
And it was all, the whole grand ten minute car ride, just the homeschooling-mom-reset I needed.*
Now, standing at a table, working and writing, here at co-op, where a thousand homeschooled children are whipping around me and screaming over a game of Elimination(!!!) I’m looking up other translations of the verse Asher read. My favorites are the variations where compassion is changed to tenderhearted.
My son is the king of tenderheartedness, and I’m so thankful that he, and all of my children, are with me in this process of homeschooling, even now that it’s different than it once was.
On cold mornings, I want to be tender. On the stressful days of this season, I want to be kind.
And above all, I want to be grateful, always, for it all. The whole heaping, five AM, legs over my hip and hands on my cheeks, the early morning-rush-out-the-door, the check-in-with-tutors-while-folding-laundry, and the driving of everyone everywhere, mess of it.
*(Well, that and the giant coffee with a turbo shot that I’m currently downing, as my kids do their co-op classes.)