It is nearly September. This is when I am always scrambling for a good idea for how to make life work around here. We only get 24 hours a day. There is so much to be done. Every day is a combination of homeschool, home business (teaching music lessons most afternoons), explosive creativity that needs to be cleaned up, and 27 meals a day. (This is not an exaggeration. 3 meals x 9 people + newborn feedings round the clock = My Life.)
I always want to find a framework into which we can squeeeeeeze our life. Should everyone have a list of tasks they have to do each day? Should we deep-dive and study one subject at a time? Should I give them luxurious amounts of time to explore their creative (and very messy) passions? Do we have to eat 3 meals a day? How much should I require/expect everyone to help out around here? How can we add experiences to enrich their day-to-day learning and growing? When will I ever get around to that book I’m going to write?
Sometimes I feel the burden of choice. There are so many ways we can organize our family life. We have endless options for education, for our schedules and routines, and yet, it is so hard to fit everything that feels important into our lives. Partly because there are so many of us in this family and many of them are so young and need so much, and partly because we are just human beings scratching out a path through this life.
A couple of weeks ago, while barricading myself in my closet/office, praying about this upcoming season of learning and asking God for a vision for my family, I felt myself sinking below the burden of all of the choices I have to make as a homeschooling Mother. I have tried so many things. Some of them have worked. Many have not. Our life is in a constant state of change with all of these little people in our home, and finding the framework to construct our day-to-day routines for life and learning has felt like the ultimate on-going-and-surely-never-ending brain teaser. It is a puzzle I am working on in the back of my mind in most of the quiet moments of my life. Feeling both unqualified and frankly unhappy about my role as the one who has to ultimately organize this messy life into some sort of order, knowing my weaknesses full and well, I sat in my closet and prayed that God would give me a way to make this work.
And I got a picture in my mind. Of someone very sick, in bed, unable to get up because she was in extreme pain. She was a beautiful woman, with hopes, with dreams, with a family, with a restaurant where she would have liked to eat lunch. This was the picture of a woman without a choice of how she would like to spend her day.
And with the impression of that image, I felt my heart changing. I began to see myself as the richest person I know. How many people in life get to wake up every day and make choices about the way they want to live and learn and experience life? How many people get to be with all of their children every day? How many people get to facilitate 27 meals around the same table every day, with the added bonus of all the extra snuggles, one-on-one, with a newborn? How many people have so great a measure of fertile chaos to till into workable soil?
I have the gift of making choices. I can choose to organize my life one way for a season, and when that routine no longer serves us, I can rearrange the room. We can have days where we check off lists, and we can have days where we don’t even think about to-dos. We can deep-dive for a week into nature study or ancient history, and when we are done, we can come back to our comfortable math books and copywork. I can (and do!) choose to dedicate a day each week to the collective creative mess and beauty that this family generates, and it can be a breath of fresh air. I can choose to live with vision, in collaboration with God. I can talk with him about my children and allow him to speak to me about the people they are becoming. I can look to him for insight and inspiration and guidance. And I can choose to craft, for my children, a learning life that is curious, creative, and custom-made. This is the framework on which we build.
This is choice. And it is the gift of living an unscripted life.