I didn't want to come. I mean, really didn't want to come. I am expecting my eighth child and I homeschool all of them. Summers are my break. I love home schooling, but I think everyone needs a summer. I wanted to garden, to hang out in my yard with my sisters and their kids, to eat popsicles, and to completely revamp my home school room for the next year. The room needs to be repainted (it's been five years and I hang a lot of artwork up, so...the tape and all. I wanted to reorganize my bookshelves. I wanted to organize curriculum. But...well, I have this family on the other side of the country that loves us and really wants us to be with them.
Was I justified in my desires? Sure. But...well, life is only so long, and people--relationships--trump my illusions of control. Let's face the facts, a bookshelf can be reorganized in October. I can order my pristine workbooks and have them all set up by the first day of school. We can paint when we paint. But my husband's father is over 80, his mom turns 75 this year. Realistically, how many more of these summers do I think I will have?
So I came. We came.
We have gone to daily Mass with my Mother-in-law and to her house for breakfast every day. We have had dinner together every night. (We come home for naps in the afternoons to the house we sleep in while we're here--not my in-law's house). My husband has golfed twice a week with his dad. I hit the pool a bunch of times with the kids, bought more slushies than I can count, ate ice cream wayyyy more often than I should have, and we even got in some swimming lessons. It hasn't been the worst of summers.
I could have done better.
I could have skipped the tantrums and embraced more whole-heartedly the idea of spending my summer with my in-laws. I could have been more generous and more loving. God has given me too much, really...and I'm pretty stingy when it comes to giving in return. Oh sure, I was here...but...I could have done better. A good lesson in humility. I did try, and I did stay. I'm pretty sure I could have been a brighter ray of sunshine, if you know what I mean.
In my better moments I embraced my surroundings. I napped, because I didn't have to make dinner--ever. I brought home 5 kittens from the farm, just to brighten my days with cute and cuddly friends (who ended up being very scratchy and gave me allergies, even though I am not (or was not??) allergic to cats). They did go back to the farm, even though I really wanted to keep one. The scratches actually welted up on my arms...so I figured it probably wasn't going to work long term.
When things got really desperate, I shopped for flip-flops.
I learned that a mom who's used to running a large family household has a very very hard time dialing it back...and just learning...to do...not much. But I think it was good for me. I rested a lot, and I prayed. I have almost forgotten what all of that "stuff" was I wanted to get done this summer. I cleared my mind a bit...and I made tons of baby name lists!
It's time to go home. I'm ready. I'm excited. And a little daunted at what it will take to get this large family household up and running again. I have a little Goddaughter that I want to see for the first time! It's time to go. But I'm glad I came.
"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.