Inside the Mommyvan

Homeschooling & Life Inside the Mommyvan - an old dog learning new tricks


She who fights and runs away, lives to fight another day.

Sometimes life homeschooling kids is a fight. It’s a dirty, messy slog through hostile terrain, day after interminable day. There are days when I’m convinced that they really are out to kill me, or at least to shatter my sanity beyond repair. The same can be said, I’m sure, of life with kids in traditional school, or of life with a spouse, roommate, or anyone else with whom one shares intimate space on a daily basis.

When it’s been like this for a while–and getting us back into our schooling routine after an extended winter break most definitely qualifies, as does the month of February in general–it’s time to step back. Waaaaay back. To retreat strategically, regroup, and come back stronger.

I’m fortunate that a group of women in my church family plan a wonderful retreat each year right around the time I most need it.

Earlier this month about 15 of us met up at a camp out in the woods for the weekend. We shed our outside roles: wife, mother, employee, boss, retiree, whatever. We became a group finding our shared experiences and interests, taking a brief spiritual journey together, finding peace and serenity in the gorgeous natural setting, and enjoying the fellowship and connections made along the way.

The weekend was not without its challenges, but we also saw unexpected gifts arise from the difficulty. There was hope and strength; and there was vulnerability and tears. The care these women took with each other’s sometimes fragile souls was beautiful, and there was honesty even when our opinions differed. It was a safe place, a place of deepening friendships, a place of food and fun and laughter, especially when the games came out in the evenings.

I came home renewed in spirit, refreshed in body, but best of all with my mental reserves and my social connections strengthened for the battles to be fought in the days and weeks ahead.

Here I sit, iPad in hand, a week’s worth of blog posts half-written (more or less, a few way less — as in nothing more than an idea and a title), and I figure I’d better post something or my little seedling of a blog will wither and die forever.

The problem, as far as I can tell, is that the here where I’m sitting is a thousand miles from home. I’ve been traveling for the past week, and won’t be home for another four days. I inadvertently booked two trips back to back, with just 24 hours between them to unpack, launder, and re-pack our clothes. The re-packing I did in two hours. Thankfully, my dear husband came home early to keep kids out of my way so I could set a new family speed record for last-minute vacation packing.

I love traveling. Even, maybe especially, with the kids. Now that they are old enough to understand, appreciate, and remember the things we do and see, journeys that were old hat to me become new again as I explore and experience them through children’s eyes. We find learning opportunities in all sorts of things, from ride themes at Disney World to words on airport signs.

One downside, however, is that being away from home with three little ones takes up 110% of my attention. From the time they get up in the morning, which is often an hour or so before I would like to get up, until the time I get them settled in their beds, there is something happening every minute. After they are asleep, I’m ready to drop. This leaves little time for reading, much less answering, email. Telephone calls are difficult enough at home when I can lock myself in a bathroom or closet for a crucial call; with the whole family in one hotel room, even a suite, it’s downright impossible.

There are, of course, times when I do get a break. This week we’re staying with my parents, which means the kids spend plenty of time playing outside, exploring the basement, and playing with Nana and Pop-Pop. Even during those times, though, there are frequent calls for my attention. As anyone who has done ‘brain work’ for a living knows, even if the interruptions are brief, they can drop productivity to zero if they happen often enough. It turns out that “often enough” is exactly how frequently one or more of my children requires my attention for one reason or another.

So… Now you know why this entry was composed in bits and pieces over two days’ time, and why you may not hear from me for a week at a time, then see a batch of posts appear out of nowhere.