"When we had our children, our ideas changed somewhat. Thenceforward we lived only for them; they made all our happiness and we would never have found it save in them. In fact, nothing any longer cost us anything; the world was no longer a burden to us. As for me, my children were my great compensation, so that I wished to have many in order to bring them up for Heaven" -- Saint Zelie Martin, mother of St. Therese of Lisieux, canonized October 18, 2015 along with her husband St. Louis Martin.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

just when you think it's bad enough...

you go ahead and give yourself brain damage.

I shouldn't joke.  I did bash my head against a metal piece jutting out of the roof of our ugly-van (should we just call her "Ugly"? Our van's technical name is "The Golden Beast", the kids named her. You name your vehicles, too, right?).  I did this on Monday and now it is Saturday.  The medical professionals seem to agree that I did something to my spinal cord, something to the nerves. I'm not sure what or how to explain it because quite honestly everything is a bit of a blur right now...and you know what the worst thing is? This is so bad. I blew a kiss to my older-aged neighbor man, who is a newish neighbor and not someone I do not have an easy rapport with.  I actually mistook him for my husband driving my boys to football practice. I not only waved and blew the kiss, but I proceeded to double-hand-wave the vehicle on, looking for my boys in the back seat (I forgot to mention they have an even bigger  ugly van, but along the same lines as ours- you know, bread-box lines) and when the extra row of seats that differentiates a 12 from a 15 passenger van made it's way from my ocular nerves into my very fuzzy mind, I slowly turned on my front step and walked indoors. Where I will stay. For, perhaps, ever.  And I might must send my husband over to explain my behavior...or maybe we can quickly move homes. Oh, I'm embarrassed.

Monday, September 10, 2012

School days

Did I mention that I love home schooling? No, I LOVE home schooling.  It's basically my "handle" on how to be a mom to seven children. You see, when you have something along the lines of a herd of children, you have to work extra hard at cherishing each child as the exquisitely unique gift that he or she is.  This isn't hard for a mother to do, it's just easy to forget in the craziness of the daily hustle and bustle. The "herding", if you will.  When you are way late and trying to round everyone up into your ugly "big van", wrangling with the seat belts, diaper bag and snacks in tow, catching the football as it rolls down the aisle (yes, because these vans have aisles), going back for a juice cup and noticing the kitchen, post-breakfast, that will await your return.  That's when you are tempted to think of "them" (the unique blessings) as a "bunch" (and where on earth did they all come from anyway?).  Since those moments happen pretty much all day every day, home schooling is my solution.

When I ponder my children and the benefits of home schooling, I immediately start to break the "group" down.  For example, my oldest is easy for me.  She's a girl, and we get along.  However, I could pretty easily slip into being too much of a "friend" to her, and lose the proper respect and authority that I sometimes have to remind myself that I need to keep for a few more years;).  She's fun for me to joke around with, but home educating her helps me to see where she is still a kid in need of guidance and, well, education.  It helps me to be demanding of her so as to help her grow in talent and virtue.  With a big family, it's easy to let the "easy ones" to their own devices while you go after that squeaky wheel (or stinky diaper, whatever).  Having to teach my daughter, and taking my responsibility seriously, forces me to step up my own behavior and concentrate my efforts on her in spite of those wheels and diapers. It's what I would have to do anyway (if I sent her to school, for example), but home schooling holds me accountable and prevents me from shirking and sloughing off where I might otherwise be tempted to do so.

Then there are my two boys, 18-months apart.  All they do is play sports, usually together, usually outside.  This is, again, a bit of a dream for a very busy mother with a toddler, a baby and a big house to run.  But over the course of the summer I begin to sort of miss my boys.  I feed them, kick them outside when they're rowdy in the house, and tuck them in bed at night.  They don't hang out and chat like my oldest might...so...I notice days going by without having spent much one-on-one time with my buddies.  School days find me pulled up next to my boys, pointing to their books and painstakingly working through their syllabi, rubbing their crew cuts and thumping their strong backs.  I explain things, I cheer them on. Oh! And one of my favorite things is being that "womanly influence" that is just so very needed by all men! You know, the mom who makes her boys learn poetry or sing a song...or knit.  Something a "guy" doesn't necessarily launch into on his own, yet which he enjoys in spite of himself, and which begins the life-long process of refinement and civilizing that some day his wife (or maybe the Holy Spirit, if he has a vocation to the religious life) can perfect!  Having them at home, by my side, during the long school hours helps me keep a close relationship with my sons in a way that I'm not sure would be otherwise possible.

You are probably getting the gist of why I love teaching my children.  I get more time with them and I have to direct my attention to each child, individually, each day.  In the school room, whether my child reads readily at age four or struggles to read at age eight affects me very personally.  It holds repercussions for me as a mother that it would not hold for a child's homeroom teacher in a brick-and-mortar school.  This leads me not only to be an effective teacher, but it opens my mother-eyes to layers of my children's personalities.  As I fret over their schoolwork, I ponder their virtues, their talents, their temperaments.  I love school days because home educating helps me be an attentive mother.  It holds me accountable and it opens up opportunities for me to actually be a good mother.  I absolutely need all of that time to be with my children if I am going to be even close to what they need me to be.  I know it probably seems like a mom of a bunch of kids would be the first one in line to get them out of the house for the large part of the day.  Not me. I honestly don't know how I would have a hope of being the mom I want to be for my children if I didn't get to be with them pretty much all of the time.

I know I have to cut this post off, but there's a whole lot I could say about how awesome education is.  Learning IS fun, and the world is a marvelous place. I definitely want in on getting to pass the stuffs of knowledge on to my kids!  I love to teach, and teaching my own children is pretty much my idea of a great time.  I know it's not like that for all moms, but besides all of the philosophical pros I listed above, I am blessed to just like it.  And yes, I'm going to read this post for inspiration on many a difficult afternoon.