In December, I took the kids to the trampoline park. We wind up there often, especially after particularly challenging or exciting weeks. After wandering around the trampolines, dodgeball areas and foam pit, Lema ended up at the basketball station. He walked up next to the single file line of big boys and stood next to them. I yelled to him, “Lema! You’ve gotta hop in line, bud!” He looked at me like he does many times throughout the day. It’s a look that says “what do you mean?” That’s when it clicked for me. My three year old has never had to stand in line before. It wasn’t a great feeling.
Motherhood is filled with big decisions and plenty of options. If there were a motherhood timeline laid out, there would be a medicated or unmedicated birth tick to start it off, followed by a breastfeeding or bottle tick immediately behind it. There’d be a wide gap and the next tick would be “school.” I was thinking of that particular tick long before the decision needed to be made and to my surprise, we made the choice to check the homeschool box.
Five months into our homeschool journey, I can honestly say it’s one of the best decisions we’ve made as parents. I’m learning more about myself and my children every day and it feels like a gift. It also feels really difficult and time consuming and stressful and heavy. But still, a gift. Knowing we were moving to Memphis for the first three months of the year made me grateful for this route of schooling, but it also presented some challenges.
One, we’re in a three story townhouse on the second floor. My babes are filled to the brim with energy, you guys. So full of life. So loud and vibrant. They jump, run, skip, hop…all of it. All the time. My two most used phrases in Tennessee have been “SHHHH.” and “Remember, we have to walk!” It doesn’t help that 80% of our days here have been stormy which means this teeny space is all we’ve got.
Two, just about every day in the hour before dinnertime the kids have been able to get all their wiggles out with daddy. They play ‘fighting game’ where they act like ninjas or superheroes and have epic battle scenes where everyone ends up out of breath and sweaty. I count on this big time as a mom knowing if we didn’t make it to the park or we were cooped up more than I’d like, at least Oshiolema would have “fighting game” to get his energy out. Since living here, O has left for work at 6am every day and hasn’t returned before 7:30pm once-usually its more like 10:30. Keogena goes most days of the week without even seeing him and Oshiolema only sees him when he sneaks out of his room early in the morning to say goodbye. Lema is still full of energy by the time he goes to bed most nights and really missing daddy.
Three, that scene in the trampoline park at Christmastime deeply impacted me. A big part of homeschool is the community aspect. We’ve yet to find that in Frisco and certainly don’t have a co-op or field trip group here. Lema does activities and sports, sure, but consistent interaction and unstructured play time with kids just doesn’t happen the way I thought it would. It’s really hard as a mom, to be honest. Every child should have that and I was determined to create a better balance. O and I both began praying for wisdom.
When I reached out on Instagram asking for Memphis resources, a friend recommended this incredible preschool at a favorite church here. I clicked on the program online and immediately knew it was what Oshiolema needed during our time in Memphis. We’ll eventually do University Method of homeschool which is a school that creates a curriculum for you, essentially. Kids go to school there two days a week and are with you at home the other three days of the week. This church allowed us to mimic that structure and it couldn’t be more perfect.
Here’s the thing-for whatever reason, I was terrified. I wrestled with the decision for weeks. After inquiring for more information, I found out one spot had just opened up for the year. One. I scheduled a tour and as soon as I opened the doors, a river of peace washed over me.
Still, was I failing homeschooling? Did I quit? Was he ready for this experience? Was I? And that’s where the pivot comes in. We didn’t pick up and abandon our dream of homeschooling. We didn’t run from the hard. From the beginning, we’ve surrendered our schooling decision to the Lord and will follow what fits our family best in every season. Right now, in this little apartment with dad at work sun up to well past sun down, no community and none of his extra-circulars it looks like driving to this church two days a week for preschool with peers. It looks wonderful.
This is a reminder for you too, friends. If you’ve locked yourself in a box that has become your title or even part of your identity as a mother but simply isn’t working anymore, don’t be afraid to rethink it. Pray about it. Ask for wisdom. Follow peace. Pick up one foot, keep the other planted; pivot.