The triumvirate of "H"-words for me: homeschool, housework, hobbies. I'm trying to balance these three important parts of my life, and it's a challenge. If too much emphasis swings to one, the other two suffer neglect. (I'm also a high achiever with high expectations.)
Homeschooling is an important part of our lives and takes time and energy--at least the way I homeschool does! We read books together, do math together. We even do our freewrites together--all three of us! Finn is capable of some independent work, but it's more enjoyable for him when we're learning in unison. This will certainly morph and change as the children get older, but for now, homeschooling is very hands-on for me. It takes a large chunk of time each day.
Finn turns 9 in a few weeks. I realized recently that this means he's officially halfway to "legal adulthood." Our time together is flying past, and it's important to embrace the moments we have in his childhood--my father always says "don't wish your life away!" and I agree. It's far too easy to get swept up in the must-dos of life. I want to enjoy my children's childhoods!
In addition, as a ponderer at heart, I need space in my day to process books I'm reading, to engage in some creative work, and to just think. I'm also the type of person with wide, varied interests; on the one hand, I'll never, EVER be bored (and I don't understand people who do get bored). On the other hand, it's sort of overwhelming at times to have multiple passions and interests--is today a day to sew a dress, knit a hat, read, write a poem, exercise, garden, thrift-shop, arrange flowers, paint furniture....?? Each day involves making choices about what to indulge and what to delay. That's tough for an impassioned creative!
Perhaps part of aging is realizing that having it all together is overrated, and that following your passions is essential. Housework can literally take all of my time if I let it--the old adage that "a woman's work is never done" is true! I enjoy housework more than many people do, but I enjoy creative pursuits, my children, and my hobbies even more.
Not long ago I read an old blog post by Julie Bogart (one of my favorite homeschoolers) on this very topic. She wrote a sentence in that post that struck me as absolutely profound: "There's no recipe for child-rearing that creates both control and energy." I think of the creative play in the living room, the stacks of books, the scattered drawings, the fairy house-building materials on the basement table, the countertop splattered because a child was helping cook a meal. I must say: there's not much that feels controlled about any of it. I do tidy up, make neat stacks, and wipe down countertops. But it's all about walking that tightrope between subduing the chaos and fostering the family's creative energies! I remind myself of Julie's words frequently, and find them comforting and wise.
Living out my vocation during this season of life is not at all linear. I cannot compartmentalize my time into tidy segments. Tonight I cooked dinner while playing dolls with Annie....because we needed dinner, and she needed my attention! This afternoon I had to stop what I was doing and help Finn look up facts on the RMS Lusitania --because he asked and why not? Other things did not get done. I took a brief nap this afternoon because I was exhausted from our busy weekend....and I was a lot nicer than I would have been if I'd forced myself to stay awake and fold laundry!
Perfectionism is overrated in our culture. I love having people over to my house because we get to sit and talk about real things, in a real home, drinking real tea--it's authentic. No one leaves my house thinking that it's perfect! But I do think people leave thinking that we're perfectly authentic, and that makes me think that on some level maybe my balancing act is working after all.