School has started, I smell the faint scent of freshly sharpened pencils and unused text books. Every school year I buy myself a bouquet of sharpened pencils. It’s my treat for a fresh start. I keep them in an old canning jar on my bookshelf as a reminder that there is a lot to be created and we are fully capable. I homeschool my three children and it can be just exhausting. I am not a school teacher by nature. I didn’t grow up thinking, “man, I love school so much, I think I will keep coming back and sharing what I know.” Nope, I was ready to run for the hills every afternoon and hide.

Now I spend one day a week with fifty or so other homeschool moms, some of them have always been teachers, some of them are like me and stepped up to fill a need. I spend three to four days a week sitting at my dining room table from around 10am to 7pm teaching, writing on white boards, begging my kids to get their work done and curling my fingers tightly around my patience in an attempt not to loose it. It’s a lot of work and some days I feel the stress of my own school experience closing in on me. I wonder why on earth I am in 6th grade again and when will I get out of school. The answer to that one is simple. When Gideon graduates so will I. Hahaha, that’s not funny.

But, really though, that’s what I signed up for. I was thinking about this the other day and I realized I have been looking at this from the wrong angle. I have been struggling with the fact that I am back in the 6th grade for the 3rd time, knowing that I will do it again next year. Because I have three children, I will repeat every grade four times, once for myself and once for each of them. That has had me all kinds of annoyed up until this week when I realized, due to so many lies I believed about myself and the path my thoughts had been taking, I wasn’t learning much in school the first go around. So maybe God is giving me three more shots to learn it all again. Maybe I get to sit with three little brains and we can get excited to learn all together. Maybe I am using the word maybe too much for the grammar police but maybe I don’t care because I know the teacher won’t mind.

There are moments when I just have no desire to head to the table, get out all the stuff and walk them through math facts one more time, or sing the preposition song over again. It isn’t easy because it takes consistency and then when you think you are done with it, it takes more consistency.

I keep reminding myself and telling my children that learning is an ongoing part of life. When we stop learning new things, stop working our brains and stop enjoying new information, we become stagnant. We become old before we should and things get foggy. At ten, eleven and twelve I don’t think they mind the idea of TV watching over grammar work, or video games over playing out side, but I know it’s not safe for any of us.

Within the co-op that I am apart of we have syllabi that each class follows. I have never in my whole education had a syllabus. It was completely foreign to me. The very idea of knowing what to expect every week is just glorious. I had tried to plan out our school years ahead of time with no luck. I had tried to get a week planned out with very little success, so having someone hand me a list of

what all was expected of my kids and I was really scary but also freeing. Each syllabus is typed out differently, there is personality in every one of them and you can see that each teacher has planned out what they want the students to learn by the end of the year. This, by the way, is genius. It has been life changing for us to have a plan. Who knew?

It has had me thinking and going over things to progress my own journey of learning. I need a plan. I need a space to set goals and break them down. I need a pencil in my hand that is freshly sharpened and a space to write and learn and set goals and break them down into small steps of achievement. I need a syllabus for myself. I was hoping to find one at Target or B&N. I looked in the self help section under Life Syllabus for Dummies and didn’t find anything.

So I set out to make a plan, to bring more to my moments. I do not always enjoy sitting for hours teaching, learning and planning, but I do love the look on David’s face when he knows the answer to a question without help, or the pride in Sarah’s eyes when I go over her work and she gets them all right. When Gideon comes into the dining room finished with his math lesson he does with his daddy and I see that he has accomplished his math and spent time with is father, my heart melts.

Consistency is hard, it’s hard to stay consistently on schedule. It’s hard to consistently fall behind. It’s annoying to do the laundry, but infuriating when I can’t find Caleb clean socks. It makes me mad when I have to say no to the third cookie, but it breaks the lock on the anger door when I can’t fit into my jeans. It’s painful when I have to write my heart on pages, but it’s worse when I keep it locked inside. Consistency is hard whether I’m choosing a healthy habit or choosing to continue wallowing in what I don’t like. I am being consistent. I have to choose my hard.

Life can be difficult, but with practice it gets easier. As for 6th grade math…I am two years completed and with two more to go. I feel like I am getting the hang of it now, like I can breathe a little easier, but if I remember correctly second semester will get harder. So I plan, I plan to call Jaime my math guru for help, I plan to pray for a calm voice when it gets confusing and I plan to only do one thing at a time to better my chances at success.

May you find yourself choosing your hard, not your hard choosing for you. Grace and Peace be with you.