Adrian, I'm sorry. When the door opened suddenly at church and hit you, I hurriedly moved you back out of the way and instantly reassured the person who opened it that everything was fine, that you were okay. Then I saw out of the corner of my eye how you moved close to Miss Ashley, who picked you up in her arms and comforted you. She's great, by the way. I know she cares a lot about you. But I felt like I failed you. Also, forgive me for being Ms. Crazy when I'm trying to school Angelica and keep Ceci from scribbling all over her work, and also getting the morning dishes cleaned up before I even see you. Wandering around the living room, quietly trying to stay out of the way. You're such a good kid and my heart just years to give you the attention that you, my middle child, so keenly deserves.
Being so sick this past week didn't help things in my little world. Being mildly sick, or just beat down, for several weeks has been such a challenge. I probably abuse the word, but being an introvert and not getting enough quiet time to reflect has been soul-quenching of late. Rushing between the kids and homeschooling and being neither here nor there some days, and then teaching night after night with an endless amount of assignments to be graded and classes to be planned is what was happening on the outside. On the inside I felt myself slowly shutting down. A steady stream of needs, needs, and more needs and then all the needing-to dos. I just can't do it all.
Ceci, I'm sorry too. When you cry and cry in your crib (is it because you really don't need the nap? or because you really want to be out in the action with your siblings?) sometimes I just can't bear it. I know I leave you in there too long. But I have to get away, just for a few minutes. Just to get a little peace in my head and relief from my body that just aches and aches.
My husband gets home at four, and I look into his face with eyes of relief. Relief, that I am getting away from the needs and able to escape to my office at work for at least a half hour before going into the classroom. But then there is a needy student, outside my office door. Feeling the urgency to fully communicate in no uncertain terms how difficult my course is for her.
What do I say to that? I try to respond but feel so defeated.
Thursday finally arrives, my last night teaching of the week. The sinus pressure I feel is unbearable by the time my eyes of relief meet his, and I am on the verge of losing it between 'shifts'. I am too weak to care for my kids. They amuse themselves while I use a hot compress to ease the discomfort. I leave for school, thinking of the things that need to be done, that I have no energy to do. But who else can do them? I alone am the one. I alone am the mom by day, and I alone am in front of the students by night. God, why do I have to go through this?
Ah, Angelica. Math is important, but our relationship is more important came tumbling out of me when I got so frustrated that you couldn't remember how to add plus nine and plus eight problems that morning. I got so mad again because 'we've done this already' and you've practiced 'so many times' that I seem to forget that math was my worst subject in school. Just ask Uncle Keith who had to be my tutor. You deserve more grace and I intend to keep the above slogan in my heart. You may need to remind me sometimes. You're such a gift, and I'm sorry that I fail you sometimes.
I am distracted by these thoughts and worn down by it all but my answer comes that night by way of another needy student, this time a hurting one. Bedraggled and eagerly awaiting the silence that comes when the final student turns in the exam, I wait for it to be all over for the week. I don't want to deal with this again, since Student #1 had left me so bewildered just days before. Yet I know that I must confront this uncomfortable situation. I entertain the idea of just leaving it alone, leaving it for another day. But sighing inwardly, I know I must get it over with. I approach her about her absences. She starts to explain. It's getting personal. We go out in the hall, and suddenly she is opening her heart and bearing all to me. In a normal situation I know I would probably force the conversation along, and try to get back to the Teacher and Syllabus stance. I started there, but was too weak to continue in it as she kept telling me more and more. Physical pain, emotional pain, lack of motivation to keep up with the responsibilities of life. She expressed in her words what I was going through this difficult, trying semester. She is weak; I am weak. It was an equal playing field, suddenly. And I looked into her deep, brown eyes and saw...a daughter. It could have been you, Angelica. It wasn't, but she was so vulnerable. And I held her glance, and I tried to speak life into her, a la Toby Mac. Life, affirming life, in the midst of self-defeat and discouragement. Be kind to yourself was one thing that God spoke through me to say to her.
And I think He is whispering it to me as well. You know, I keep trying. I haven't given up yet. On the home front, there is love between you kids that I believe is fostered by having you together for now. It's a beautiful thing to behold, so one day I hope to look back and say "It was worth it to homeschool you during those years. Look how you blossomed; look how you became best friends in spite of my failures." And work will always bring challenges, and well, work. Yet, I think the student who confronted me about the difficulty of my course, didn't she and I laugh together in class by the end of the week? Didn't she rejoice at the "A" she got on the last quiz? At the end of this school year I want to be able to say I did the best that I could which sometimes just means being courageous enough to be present in the moment. Hugging you, my precious ones at home and being there at school if needed.
Mostly I'm just thankful for this moment of quiet to actually reflect upon it all.