evening walks

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So this weekend last year I believe was the weekend we moved into this home + this side of town.  There’s something about being in a place for a year.  Seeing it in all its seasons.  There’s something about growing up and changing in a place that seems to mostly stay the same.  We live on the backside of a retreat center, in the residential section.  It’s sort of an odd arrangement but we love living in a little hidden cove of quiet in the city.  It was our first summer experiencing this place with campers coming and going every week, our usual walks interrupted with camp activity and hustle.  Now kids are back in school, camps close up for the off season, and we are back to our evening walks all over the deserted retreat campus.  The little ones love visiting the lake and “fishing,” looking for the moon and watching the bats in the evening sky darting back and forth.  My heart felt full and melancholy at the same time.  Seasons come and seasons go.

I was talking with a couple momma friends earlier in the day yesterday about how we feel that nagging sense of being behind sometimes, always behind.  In a culture that is always pressing ahead to the “next thing” and the “next stage” it can be awfully hard and terribly counter-cultural to just slow and linger where you are.  My daughter will be 5 in December and we’ve gone back and forth about whether or not to start preschool with her this year.  But if I’m honest, the only real reason I’m feeling that niggling worry is because I don’t want her to be behind and because so many of her peers are already in school.  The reality is, she’s my first.  She’s my oldest.  And this is probably the last year we will ever have like this, just us at home, days full of errands, play dates, adventures outside, books piled high, dress-up and coloring and cookie baking in the middle of the day.  Once she starts school, even homeschool, our minds and schedules will begin to revolve around school.  Our freedoms will change a bit, our family dynamic will change.  So, as eager as I am to dig into school and embrace that new season ahead, I’ve decided to just linger over this little season right here, with my three little ones at home and the sweet freedom of unscheduled learning.  My plan is simple: read a lot, play outside a lot.  Probably my number one goal “educationally” this year is to increase and stimulate wonder over their world.  To give them a lot of time and attention, play and surprise.  To excite them about learning.  To learn as we go, but not to worry about it or stress over it.  I don’t think “my” way is better than anyone else’s.  I’m so thankful for the freedom we have in our own families to choose what works best for our own family dynamic.  I’ve thought over these words many times in the past few weeks, taken from Jean Fleming’s book A Mother’s Heart:

Now is the time to get things done. . .
wade in the water,
sit in the sun,
squish my toes
in the mud by the door,
explore the world in a boy just four.

Now is the time to study books,
flowers,
snails,
how a cloud looks;
to ponder “up,”
where God sleeps nights,
why mosquitoes take such big bites.

Later there’ll be time
to sew and clean,
paint the hall
that soft new green,
to make new drapes,
refinish the floor–
Later on. . .when he’s not just four.

Irene Foster, “Time is of the Essence”

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