Okay I guess it won't really be a secret, at least not anymore, if I write it here. But I've been thinking about this post as I've drifted off to sleep each night this week, barely able to keep my eyes open at 8:58pm.
The past two weeks were a little tough for me. And not because school hasn't been great. It has. The kids love their new school. Patch says "Mommy I missed you so much." and "I don't want to go yet." when I pick him up.
Yesterday he said "Mommy! Look at this! In the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit! Look! Teacher taught me!" while gleefully showing me the sign of the cross that he would previously mumble while barely moving his hand from side to side.
Sadie came home giddy about Mother Teresa becoming Saint Teresa of Calcutta and could talk of nothing else on the car ride home on Friday, over the moon because one of the teachers had received a letter from her years ago, and they'd gotten to read it in class.
If I'm entirely honest I have to admit that I've found myself washed back and forth between emotions of happiness and contentment, knowing that this is the best thing for our family and struggling to accept that the vision that I've always had in my head of how things would be, isn't how things turned out. And sometimes that hurts.
And if I'm honest, my heart aches like crazy, because that is what I wanted for our family more than I can even put into words. Because I did love homeschooling. I loved "doing school" around the dining room table and taking fieldtrips every week.
So I've been scrolling quickly past pictures, nearly identical to the ones I've posted in past years, a lump in my throat.
It's not like that all the time. Like when I pick the kids up and they tell me about their day in a rush, and then tumble out of the car to run around together in the backyard, because they've missed each other and they all know that James has been desperate for them to get home, and so he's showered with attention as he runs back and forth across the lawn, the Chihuahua dancing around his feet like a tiny satellite.
And most of the time it's been too busy to be sad about it for any length of time, it's just a feeling that comes and goes, as I remind myself that this is absolutely and undoubtedly what's best for our kids.
The thing is that logically, I completely understand that it is what's best. The last year with it's eight to ten doctor's appointments a month, alongside 50+ therapy sessions (also a month) has taught me that. I could not to justice to their education while still getting everyone the care that they needed. But still I find myself defensive when someone comments or messages and says "So, you're not homeschooling anymore?"
No. No we're not.
The day began to unfold the night before when I checked my planner and saw that I'd double booked a morning appointment. Sadie and Patch would need to be at school at eight. Maggie's drop off was at nine.
But right there on my phone I saw that Tessie had her Well Baby Check at 9:30, while I was supposed to be here at home (30 miles away) at 9 am, while James met his new physical therapist for the first time (an appointment that was hard to get during this busy back to school time). Then I needed to pickup Patch at 11 and Maggie at 12, before getting Maggie over to speech and OT at 2. Paul would pick up Sadie at 3 and then I'd swing by and get her from his law office before taking everyone home.
How had this happened? I knew I'd triple checked my schedule when I made the appointment for PT. But it had. So I stayed home with James, while Paul took the kids to school, hauling everyone in and out of the car repeatedly, while I waited and waited for a knock at the door and fretted because I'd never been away from Tessie for this long before and would she even take the bottle of milk I'd managed to express and send with them (Paul had had to go to the store to pick up a bottle).
Then I got a phone call from a number I didn't recognize. It was the receptionist at Maggie's therapy center. Her therapy tech had strep throat and they didn't have a sub. Frantically I called Paul and told him the news. He'd just dropped off the older kids and he rushed the thirty miles home to drop Maggie off (juggling Maggie and Tessie at a doctor's appointment would be a disaster because Maggie freaks out in that doctor's office nine out of ten times), before taking Tessie back to town.
By then the therapists were late.
Really late. I began to worry. I had to get Patch at 11. I needed to leave by 10:15 to make sure we were there in time. Finally I checked my phone and discovered that I'd put the time in wrong. A text message from his early interventionist said that his appointment was at 12:30. I could actually have been at Tessie's appointment and asked her doctor the questions I wanted to ask.
I jumped up from where I was sitting on the bathroom floor and told a now calm Maggie that we needed to go. I got her dressed. I rushed her and James to the car and loaded them in. We drove into town and I found out that for the first time in the history of the world, our pediatrician's office was on time and Paul was already in the exam room.
I waited outside with Maggie and James and when Paul came out, triumphant, having survived an appointment with Tessie without me, I learned Tessie had happily drunk 4 ounces of milk and was doing quite well.
We dropped Paul's car off at his office, rushed over to pick up Patch and then went to get pizza and had a pizza picnic in the park, before Paul went to his office and I took the three kids back to our house, where Maggie was again devastated that she was going home and not to therapy, and was sobbing when the two therapists arrived.
As soon as the assessment was over, and the once weekly therapy sessions, alternating between speech and PT were scheduled, I loaded the car up again and we raced back to town, making it ten minutes late for Maggie's sessions.
I unloaded the kids from the car and asked if there was a room I could hang out in with the other kids, since it was so humid outside, and I was about to drop from exhaustion. Maggie's speech therapist led us into a room we could use, and brought in an enormous basket of toys, and I laid on the floor with Tessie while the boys played cars.
Those fifty minutes flew by and we were on our way to pick up Sadie from Paul's office, where she'd just arrived.
As we headed home she told me about her day. And I couldn't help but think of what her day would have been like if she'd been home with me. She would have been shuffled from appointment to appointment and now, at the end of the day, utterly exhausted, I would try to come up with something for school. And this day, with it's seemingly endless rounds of appointments, it isn't all that unusual for us.
As we got on the freeway, headed home, I asked Sadie if she'd made any new friends (a favorite topic for my super-ultra-extrovert) and she talked about some of the girls in her class and then said "Oh and I made friends with a first grade boy. I played with him at recess. I could tell that he was really lonely. So I decided to be his friend."
Before that moment, when she said she'd made friends with a little boy because she could tell that he was lonely, I knew, logically that we'd made the right choice. When she said those words I felt it in my bones. And heart.
This transition has been positive in so many ways. Taking Maggie to the park in between drop offs in the morning and playing with her one on one. Having one on one time with James while Tessie naps the morning away when Paul takes the kids to school. Having time to actually clean during the day when I have energy instead of at night when I'm exhausted.
But knowing something in my head and convincing my heart to give up the dream I had of what life would look like aren't quite the same thing.
Still, I think I've found that learning to let go of my plans, to make way for the plans that are the best for our family, is a growing process that I absolutely have needed to go through. Letting go of what I thought would be the perfect fit to make way for the plans God has for us, isn't always easy for a person who thrives on making lists of plans and lists of lists of plans, but when the push is so undeniable and the results so filled with a sort of calming hope that can only be grace, I know that we've made the best decision for our family.
Even when at times I feel that dull ache at giving up my best laid plans, for plans that don't look anything like what I'd imagined, but that are undeniably exactly what we needed all along.