Rat Relay

Last Monday night, my daughter played beautifully in her Spring cello recital.  One of the best parts of recital night for the children is the reception that follows.  After working hard in individual lessons and playing in group practice sessions all season, the children finally get to have some time to get to know each other, to eat, and to play games. My son enjoys cello recital night, too.  He has had the opportunity to get to know some of the families over the years and enjoys time to catch up.  This last week, he enjoyed getting to know one of the families whose children also take lessons with our piano instructor (yes, piano, cello, it is all very confusing).  As we were leaving the recital reception, my son commented on how he enjoyed talking with their son.  He said, “we should get together with them sometime.  They are a lot like we used to be.  You know, back when we used to have a set time for dinner and always ate together every night”

Wow, it has been a tough year.  When we first started homeschooling, one factor that informed that decision was a desire for a lifestyle where we could be more in control, less booked, more flexible.  We wanted to slow life down, not be constantly driving to school or on buses.  Somewhere in the last four years, we’ve lost sight of that underlying goal.

In part, I’ve found that as soon as people realize that you have flexibility their expectations shift.  Of course you can have lessons or team practice at 1:00, driving half-way across the county…you are homeschoolers!  In part, it is my fault because I want the children to have all the opportunities that being flexible can afford.  Of course we can swim AND dance, so long as we do one during the day and the other in the evenings!

I’m a part of the Martha Stewart generation, you know the ones who want to do everything Simply, but who have realized that Simply only looks simple.  Home canning, gathering fresh eggs from 32 different varieties of hens in `6 hues ranging from blue, to cream, to tawny brown, and container gardening with bonsai and orchids each take more time than Martha’s whole staff can afford in any one 30-day period.

At one point last summer, we had a carpool just to get the kids to their carpool.  You read that right.  One carpool would meet in the neighborhood to take the neighborhood kids to the carpool that met at the dry cleaner’s parking lot that would take the kids to Swim team practice.  Then, another carpool, possibly the carpool dropping off the younger kids, would pick up the older kids, and meet the carpool from the carpool at the dry cleaners and bring them back to the neighborhood.  We weren’t running the Rat Race, I joked, we were running the Rat Relay.

In our recent move, I left the relay behind.  No more carpools.  Now, I feel like the marathon runner of the Rat Race.  And I’m pretty sure it’s a race I don’t want to keep running.  But how to make a change?  This is my struggle as we settle in to our new home, our new routines.  How to reclaim the peace and serenity that we all crave while recognizing the need to grow and change, to learn and do, to be with friends, to serve in the community, to exercise our bodies and our minds and our creativity.  I don’t have a good, spirit-filled answer for this one, just sharing the struggles along the journey.  I’ll keep you posted on where we end up.

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