Friday, September 4, 2009
It's been a long, mind-wrenching week mingled with the anxiety of preparation and the inevitable eagerness that ushers in September. September -- my favorite month. Freshly sharpened yellow no. 2 pencils, crisp morning air, cable-knit sweaters with plaid skirts and brown Mary Janes, stacks of books, apples hanging heavy on limbs.
Soon, my kitchen table will be surrounded by four children who are ready to learn. Their binders are filled with paper and dividers. The living room basket is bulging with library books about penguins and Ancient Rome. Closets have opened their doors to welcome back-to-school clothes.
Yes, they are ready to learn. But am I ready to teach? Endless "notes to self" are stacked on my nightstand. The kitchen counter has been invaded by mountains of curriculum. The plans look okay on paper, but how will it all pan out?
My mind whirls. Each year is different. I've never done it with four. It's hard to anticipate how the day will flow as I attempt to juggle sixth grade math, third grade spelling, first grade science and preschool reading. Realistically, I know the only way to figure it out is to jump in and go.
I also know that I will begin to second guess myself as the year progresses. It's my nature. Doubts will creep in. Are we covering the right material? Are the children engaged in the topics and still eager to learn? Am I adequately preparing them for life beyond the kitchen table?
Soon, I'll allow the life-sapping doubt to ooze its way into other areas of my life. What do I know about raising four children? Why can't I be more patient? Am I doing enough? How can I possibly mold a successful child?
Wait a minute. Stop right there. It's not my job to mold a successful child. I climb from the ooze and begin to refocus on the truth. My goal as a parent is not for my children to be well-mannered, eloquent, always-ironed geniuses. No. My goal is to see my children live for Jesus. To love Him with all of their heart, soul, mind and strength. My goal is to be able to daily hand my children over to the Lord so that He can mold them into His very image. Oh, that is so much better than the frayed, homespun pattern I've tried to cut out for them.
I can see that He is at work in my children, and I praise Him. I see it when Drew asks to read Psalm 111 at the dinner table because it's his favorite chapter. I hear it as Avery hums Come Thou Fount while playing with her dollies. I see it when I pray with Aidan at bedtime and he doesn't want it to end: "Aren't you gonna pray for more stuff?" I see it when stumbling across Bethie's notebook, inscribed with an original praise song entitled My God, Wonderful God. Yes, the Lord is faithfully at work. It brings me joy. It fills me with peace. It gives me the freedom to step back, let go and crack open those school books with confidence and delight.