Written by contributor Sarah Small of SmallWorld at Home
As I write, three teenagers in Santa hats are in the kitchen loudly singing, “I Want a Hippopotamus for Christmas.” It is 7:15 a.m., and I hush them because I don’t want them to wake “the baby.” The baby is almost 12, and like most tweens, he likes to sleep in.
We’re a long way from reading quietly during the baby’s naptime. We’re a long way from making handprint wreaths and salt dough ornaments. My daughter and her friends are making their lunches before they head out to co-op, where they’ll have a full day of classes: ecology, American literature, American history, geometry, ACT Prep, and drama.
They leave. My 12-year-old still snoozes; the cat snores softly on the couch. The house is almost perfectly quiet. There is not one single toy visible to me, not even a Lego guy head.
Bustle changes as the seasons of our life shift.
It is at times like this I hear the choir of older mothers who used to warn me.
You know them—the ones who sing, “Enjoy them now! They grow up too fast!” ad nauseam. For me, they always seemed to choose exactly the wrong time—after a particularly sleepless night, at the supermarket check-out line when the youngest was screaming for candy, or after an hour of trying to keep them quiet during church—to express this quaint but obviously erroneous sentiment.
“Grow up too fast?” I’d think to myself. “This goes on forever and ever and ever! If only they’d grow up just a little!”
It was true, what they said, for the most part.
The days do go by quickly, although we can’t see that in the midst of crumbled cookies, sticky hands, and scattered toys. When we spend half our day refereeing fights, commanding kids to “PICK UP!” and counting to 10, we fantasize about just one hour of quiet or even a shower without a kid banging on the door. An hour’s trip to Target without kids is the equivalent of a weekend at the ritziest spa.
We can’t imagine, as we read his favorite book aloud for the zillionth time in a row, that one day he’ll be raiding your bookshelves, “borrowing” all your favorite novels and taking them to college. It’s true.
I am not quite to the stage where I can say I miss stepping on Legos, but I do feel a twinge of grief when I toss the unread American Girl catalog into the recycling bin. I don’t even ask my 15-year-old daughter if she wants to look though it anymore.
But you know what the best thing is about homeschooling? And yes, I mean the best part of homeschooling?
When I remember all those ladies warning me to “Enjoy them while they’re young,” I think to myself: I did.
We seized the days together.
I got to enjoy the ins and outs and ups and downs of their every day lives. My husband and I nourished them, nurtured them, and watched them grow. We didn’t have to send them off so that someone else got to enjoy them—or worse, not enjoy them. Forget about academics and socialization and all that stuff.
The essence of homeschooling is so simple: we get to be with them.
We are privileged to really enjoy them while they are young so that it doesn’t all go by too fast.
And so as one of those older women now, I will say this to you: keep enjoying them. In the bustle of this season, treasure these moments up in your heart. Snuggle on the couch and read your favorite Christmas story a dozen times in a row. Let them get messy decorating sugar cookies.
One of these days, they will head out the door in a flurry of goodbyes, you will have enough quiet moments for reflection.
What moments are you treasuring in this season of your life?