Thanks to our unique lifestyle I was able to spend three weeks in Florida with my parents during Dad’s latest surgery. The time was needed because he was weaker than I’ve ever seen him. Happily, he was well on the mend by the time of my flight back to the Midwest.
Hubby had played the single dad game, juggling work from home and caring for the boys for the duration. Teen sacrificed school to watch Tot while Hubby was beating deadlines and chairing conference calls. In short they survived without me, but as they repeatedly told me toward the end of my absence, they were eager for Mommy to come home.
The day before my flight, I told Teen, “I’m going to give you and hug. Then say, ‘Go write your IEW paper.'”
“That sounds about right,” he answered.
Hubby, Teen, and Tot were ready to get back to routine. What surprised me was that I wasn’t. I got home on Saturday afternoon and slept for the next sixteen hours. When Monday rolled around, I could barely string two thoughts together much less educate and engage my boys. Clearly, I needed some time to decompress, but what about the boys? They needed some structure.
God designed me with two opposing aspects in my personality; those two sides sometimes clash, but often they blend perfectly to make a unique parenting and homeschooling style. The flexible, spontaneous pack rat helped with Tot, and the uptight, organized administrator handled Teen.
Once Tot turned about two, I started accumulating objects and projects I thought might be useful for school. It is a capital offense to throw away paper towel rolls or toilet paper tubes in my house. Microwave bowls, milk jugs, and bottle caps are washed and shoved on a shelf. I would love to say they are neatly stored in a dedicated homeschool cabinet, but my bookshelf is overflowing, and there is no longer room for neatness. I also haunt the clearance section of WalMart, Target, and Hobby Lobby for prepackaged craft projects. These get shoved into a bin, waiting for a rainy day.
Yes, this atrocious mess is out in the hallway for anyone to see. I had to give up on the facade of perfection in my home a long time ago. Anyway for those first few days, I was able to pull out activities that engaged and educated Tot without requiring preparation or even logical thought on my part.
Before I left, Hubby and I devised a schedule that could allow Teen to stay current on his schoolwork. I had no faith that the plan would actually come to fruition. Hubby’s work is unpredictable and taking care of Tot is exhausting. I knew the chances of Teen accomplishing anything schoolwise were slim, but I sat down and wrote out more than three weeks of assignments anyway. You know, just in case. Because in a perfect world, my absence wouldn’t affect the family, and Teen would not only succeed in completing his work, but also do more than required. After all, it’s in the nature of teenage boys to go above and beyond what is asked of them. The point is, those first few days I didn’t have the brain power to remember the names of Teen’s textbooks much less assign meaningful work. However, the rigid side of me had preplanned so many assignments that I was able to just say, “Work on whatever is in your lesson plan book.”
Sometimes I get frustrated by the different aspects of my personality. The creative side is inspired to create some amazing craft project, but the organized side reminds me that I have to balance the checkbook. In this case though, I see that I am blessed the way that God made me. Those differences allowed me to decompress and transition while still providing my boys with the structure they needed.