Monday, April 28, 2008

My Gift

Last week was one of 'those weeks'. You know, the kind that finds you dreaming about the end long before it ever even begins. The kind you dread long before it starts and seem to suffer through as you go, willing the end to come much more quickly than it normally would. The kind you'd like to forget. It was Ohio Achievement Testing Week. Yes, all caps. Because it has become an event in our lives. An event I'd rather not have to do, but must.

Because we choose to school at home, my children are enrolled in public charter virtual schools or eschools as some might call them. And I'm very glad they are. Honestly, for Matthew it is a great thing because I'm NOT his primary teacher. He's enrolled in a program that has a virtual option meaning he logs in to class with teachers and attends with other students much like he would if he were in the local brick and mortar. His teachers go the extra mile and help him with concepts he's having trouble with, and he has the option to log in and access tutoring at any time from whatever teacher is manning that subject at the time. For Matthew, it is the best of both worlds. He can be social and yet he's here at home where he's developing in to a wonderful young man. Jonathan is enrolled in another program that allows him to work at his own, accelerated pace so he is accomplishing much more than he might be able to in a brick and mortar. This means that as he ends his fourth grade year, he's doing fifth grade work that he'll most likely finish by Christmas and then they'll allow him to move on. The curriculum is accelerated anyway, so it is nice to see Jonathan learning at his level as I watch him grow and blossom under my teaching. It is the best of both worlds for all of us. And next year Laura will join in the fray with a home-based preschool curriculum as I prepare to enroll her in to the program Jonathan is using. It should be a fun year for all of us!

So what does all of this have to do with the picture of my wonderful hubby? Well, once a year the requirements of public schooling descend on us and we must show up somewhere with all of the other students in our area to take the achievement tests. This year that meant that last week,three mornings were scheduled for Jonathan and four afternoons were scheduled for Matthew. As we eschooling parents gathered at each testing location, conversations about our lives inevitably took place. You compare where your kids are in the curriculum, how they are handling assignments, what you choose to use and what you choose to skip, and so on. And after you've finished discussing the children, the topic of family life shifts to the top of the subject matter under consideration.

In the give and take of conversations I recall feeling overwhelmed time and time again. Not negatively, mind you. But overwhelmed with the knowledge that our life was pretty wonderful no matter how you looked at it. Oh yes, there are things I need to change/do better/improve on/etc. but we are doing just fine, thank you very much. My kids were not growing up extremely rebellious, they aren't in to things that they'll regret later in life, and none of them are living a life that is completely against our family values. They are pretty wonderful and I am thankful every day that I am able to be home with them.

However, the thing that I found I was most thankful for each and every day was my Gift, - my husband of almost six years now. My Don. He is truly one of the best gifts the Lord has ever provided for me. The one that grounds me. The one that keeps me surrounded by acceptance, stability, comfort and a touch of reality. The one that supports me no matter what I choose to try, that keeps me on the straight and narrow as I often try to bite off more than I can chew. And the one that reaches out to touch and soothe me when I feel like I just can't do it anymore, encouraging me by reminding me what we've already accomplished and how much more fun there is ahead. Yes, even in the teen years. And then there's the love and acceptance. He completely loves and accepts me just the way I am. No matter how many quick fix meals he must endure because we were too busy to start dinner earlier. Or how many times he has to pick his socks and underwear out of the laundry basket we haven't managed to fold yet. Or how many times he has to help get the house picked up and the dishes done even after working a full day at the office. Yes, I have been given a gift. A gift that was even more evident as I listened to others discuss their lives.

I sat in small groups last week listening to many Moms talk about the mess their lives are, how their older children or stepchildren are causing so many disturbances in their households that it is hard to get things done, let alone on time or in any kind of schedule. Or how their husbands don't support their schooling choices and don't help around the house. And even how they use money, sex or other manipulative means to control them in front of and away from the children. Sometimes what they admitted so astounded me that I couldn't even figure out what to say so I just kept my mouth shut, attempting to keep my chin from hitting the floor in the process. Other times, I just quietly thanked the Lord that he gave me not only the best parents in the world, some pretty awesome kids, but Don as well. I can't imagine what life might have been like if not for those blessings. And I'm glad I don't have to worry about it. I'll just keep on thanking him for my gifts and enjoying life with my husband and my children.

I have been blessed. And I am forever thankful for my Gifts - all of them!

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