Well, hello there! It has been at least two weeks that I’ve been trying to publish this post! Its not for lack of trying, but there just hasn’t been a spare moment. It has been a few weeks ago now that we harvested our pumpkins. I haven’t grown them before so I don’t know if we planted them too soon, planting them way back in April when we planted everything else. However, the pumpkins seemed ready, the vine had completely taken over that corner of our back yard and I was ready to pull it out and clean up the garden a bit. Philippa had requested planting pumpkins in the kids little garden box and she tended them carefully over the summer. She was delighted to harvest them. As it turns out, she grew exactly six healthy pumpkins, one for each of us. It really still amazes me the volume of life, plant matter, and abundance that came from one little pumpkin seed. A little bit of investment, a whole lot of yield. It’s God’s way. We may not always see it this side of heaven, but I believe it is His way, and why He asks us to faithfully steward what He gives.
So there are pumpkins in August lined up on our porch and I don’t know what to do with them yet being it is only just barely beginning to feel like autumn. The sun and humidity still blaze hot. I guess it really is possible for me to decorate with pumpkins too early. Now I know. 🙂 But we are trying to enjoy them just the same, and the kids are hoping they last until carving time in October. Doubtful, I know.
Last week we began our fifth year of homeschooling. What a marvel. I never imagined myself doing this, investing my life in this way, yet here I am. I really do love it so much. That is not to say that it doesn’t exhaust me entirely, keep me up at nights with anxiety, questions, uncertainty, or that I don’t fail terribly at it many days. It does do all of those things and I do fail at it terribly and often wonder if it just too large for me. Maybe one day it will be, and it will be time to shift into something else. Yet the reality is, it is truly too large for me and it requires dependence on the Lord and a whole lot of grace and sanctification. I resist that. I imagine that if it is God’s will for us than maybe it should feel easier or more natural than it does. Yet I’ve learned that God equips whom He calls, and not the other way around. I’ve learned that that equipping sometimes comes slow and daily, humbling me more than I’d like.
With each passing year I feel more sure of our approach to homeschooling, I seem to find my way and my confidence a little more. I am learning what everyone has always said, how valuable the relationship and connection is over simply plowing through material at all costs. I am learning to laugh and relax more, to set aside a lesson when there are tears of frustration, to make more time for play, wonder, discovery. I’m seeing the fruits of our labors and it is encouraging! I really hope it is our best year yet. Philippa has begun her first year, what a special milestone. She was overjoyed when some of her new books arrived and she counted down the days until the first day of school last Monday. She could hardly sleep the night before. She asks me for extra work every day and she can’t learn to read fast enough. I hope her zeal never diminishes, what a joy to have an eager student!
I also began weaning Wren this week and it has made me so much more emotional than I anticipated. I cried late in bed last night, remembering how these last ten+ years of almost constant pregnancy or breastfeeding have been the very sweetest years of my life, the work I knew I would love yet never dreamed I could enjoy as much as I have. To wean the little one that will probably be my last, to see my children growing out of the baby years and into the big kid years — it is beautiful but also I don’t want to see this season go. I know so many mothers cannot wait to progress and get beyond these little years, and I can understand. They have certainly had their challenges and they’ve taken a toll on my body. Yet they have been so very, very sweet. And I for one don’t want to let them go.
I was working in the garden the other day and thinking about how we don’t grow food as wisely as we could. We grow mainly for immediate use, we like to basically have our own little backyard grocery. We share the overabundance with others, I don’t preserve much of anything, really. Yet the wisdom in seasons is that one should grow in summer all that they will need in winter. Spring is for possibility, dreaming, beginning, preparing the soil and the elements for a yield. The summer time is the time for growing as much as possible for the winter months so that there will be food when the growing season is done. The winter is for enjoying the fruits of your summer work and resting from the weary toll of all the labor. The ground is iron, the cold makes most growing impossible. It is a metaphor for life and every year we are given a reminder in our seasons of what the trajectory of our life will be. Our youngest years, the preparing of the soil, the planting of the seeds. Our summer years — our middle years — are hopefully our most productive, our time to yield as much as possible and store up for the winter of our life. Winter will surely come, when our strength and resources wane. And these children are so precious, and I just want to give them everything I can, you know? All the summer yield to build them up, spur them out, shoot them out into the world to do mighty things. It’s all I want with my life, to be their biggest champion and advocate on this planet.
So the seasons shift again, ever so slightly. We ease slowly back into our structures, the anchors for our days rocking us back in their steady rhythm. We welcome pumpkins earlier than we’d like, we return to our homeschool co-op and savor gathering with friends to learn again, for however long we can. I end my days bone tired with a to-do list longer than I can ever conquer, work always brimming up and over, spilling into tomorrow. Such good, weary, long, hard, beautiful days.
Welcome with me our newest little 4th grader, 2nd grader, Kindergartener, and littlest mischief-maker sidekick. If you have children in your life who are in the school years, I pray a special blessing over them right now. May we do our best for our children this year and every year.