Our family tradition started back in 2008 when the boys were all just little guys. We’d make a list, walk the aisles of school supplies, and pick up crayons, markers, glue sticks, and paints. We’d celebrate the upcoming school year by going out to lunch after our school supply shopping. Year after year, we continued the tradition.
Would you look at these sweet young things? The boys were 3, 6, 8, and 11 then.
Now, at the beginning of our 2014-2015 school year, I asked the boys if they’d mind doing this for me one more time. After all, it’s the beginning of Asa’s senior year. Who cares that we didn’t need one measly school supply this year? It’s been tradition for seven years in a row. I needed this picture.
Thirteen years. That’s how long we’ve been homeschooling. Through the nursing baby years, the toddlers crawling all over our school books years, the learning to read years, the never can find a sharpened pencil years - we survived.
We are now in the algebra years, the reading novels and learning foreign languages years, the prep for the ACT years, and the what should I do after graduation years. I do not know how we got here. When did C.S. Lewis replace Curious George? How did simple addition turn into roman numerals turn into geometry theorems? How did my babies grow taller than me and become the ones who teach me how to use new software on the computer?
How I used to roll my eyes at the people who told me to “enjoy my boys while they are young because they grow up so fast.” Yeah, yeah, I know. Enjoy them and embrace this and cherish it all blah, blah, blah because someday they’ll be grown up and I’ll miss those little years full of smeared snot and poop accidents and grocery cart tantrums.
The little years were long and hard and the snot and poop were ever-present and not something I wanted to document in the baby book. I was cherishing and embracing, but you better believe I also moved mountains so that I could take an occasional trip by myself to the grocery store – where for thirty blissful minutes nobody needed me or pulled on my leg.
That was all good. It’s okay that I found refreshment in the little slice of heaven that occurred while I waited to sack my groceries. Raising babies and toddlers and preschoolers is incredibly difficult and without a doubt, sometimes it is just plain hard to embrace and cherish each moment. Praise God for all the cute stuff that counteracts all the teething and tantrums. Praise God for nap time. Praise God for sticky kisses and grimy hugs and unconditional love from smiling baby faces.
It seems that I may have just thrown myself over into the other camp. I am now that lady – the one who will tell you to enjoy them while they’re young. (I totally give you permission to hate the poop accidents though.)
Those people – the ones that tell you how fast your kids will be all grown up? They weren’t even kidding. They were right – and if I was annoyed with them for saying it when my kids were little, now I’m just mad. How dare they be right? How is it that they said I would blink and they’d be grown? They really meant it, and it really is true. Somebody put on the brakes. This has gone entirely too fast.
As our oldest son begins his senior year, I’ve learned anew what it means to cherish the moments. This year is filled with a lot of “lasts.” Oh but praise God – this is also the beginning of a lot of “firsts.” Life doesn’t end as our kids grow older and launch the nest – but you’d better believe even the small and normal moments of life are a treasure to me like they never have been before.
We still have several years of parenting and schooling and guiding our kids along. But the beginning of this school year signifies big changes for our family in the upcoming years. What a story we’ll have to tell as we continue to experience God’s work in our lives.
You’d better believe – I’ll be cherishing this time for all its worth.