I swore at my son the other day. Well, not exactly at him, more at his disability and how much work it puts on me. Even as the words flew from my lips, I knew I should be horrified. Ashamed of myself. Instead, all I felt was a bone-deep weariness.
I’m tired. So, so tired.
I’ve been at this homeschooling gig for over 15 years now. Most of those years have been a struggle with varying degrees of language disabilities. It’s hard. My youngest two, who are not learning disabled, have been given the dregs of my time, attention, and enthusiasm.
“What do you think about…?” Hands wrapped around her steaming mug, my friend leaned forward with an open expression. I looked down at my own latte and contemplated the designs swirled into the foam by the talented barista. Not wanting to give a trite response, I took a moment to answer. I feel honored when my friend asks my opinion because I know she takes my words seriously. Even when she disagrees with my stance. Taking a deep breath, I launched into my thoughts on the topic. Our coffee date this month was sure to be a lively one.
There are two dangerous times of the year for homeschoolers. The first is two to four weeks into a new school year. Your enthusiasm flies out the window as you realize all of your carefully plotted lessons need to be scrapped because:
- The curriculum your friend raves about, that you spent an embarrassing amount of money on, might as well be written in Greek for all the sense it makes to you.
- Your kids are struck with a terminal case of Leaky Brain Syndrome and forgot everything from the last school year.
- And my personal favorite; you find out that you are pregnant. Again.
The woman stepping into the elevator likely had no idea how profoundly she would affect my parenting. She was an athletic looking woman, smartly dressed, with stylish graying hair; I pegged her to be somewhere in her 50’s. Her gaze immediately lighted upon my two children and she smiled.
My husband and I were standing sentinel behind two brightly colored umbrella strollers. The kids were snugly wrapped in winter gear for a walk by the beach. We were on a weekend vacation on the coast, our customary getaway since we’d first been married. After children, it was harder to get away alone, so we were experimenting with taking the kids along.
“Are they twins?” The woman inquired.
Jerry is a rough-skinned newt, but don’t let that put you off. He’s actually quite soft, albeit slightly bumpy. My daughter spotted this visitor lounging on our brick walkway, early in the morning. I was instantly captivated. I think I actually squealed a bit in my delight. Interrupted from my morning beauty ritual, my face was only partially on and my hair was in a not-so-fashionable turban. I didn’t care. I grabbed my camera and fairly flew out the door. I’m glad I had my clothes on.
I’m an affirmation junkie. Gary Chapman would say that my dominant love language is ‘words of affirmation’, but that sounds too tame. I think I may actually have a problem here. The mailman once told me I was beautiful. No, he wasn’t hitting on me, he was simply being his normal friendly self, but his words impacted me. I grinned all day. I ran those words through my head more times than is polite to admit. But more importantly, I felt beautiful because of his compliment.
I used to keep every nice note given to me. Each word of thanks or praise was read and reread, then tucked away for safekeeping. They made me feel good. Mere words on a page have a mystical power over me. Reading them makes me feel loved, and more, worthy to be loved.
Rational people don’t believe in love at first sight. And so, while walking along the boardwalk with my family one warm summer night, I was completely unprepared for the intensity of emotion I felt when I first caught a glimpse of him. I was in awe at his beauty. I immediately wanted to touch him. I knew it was absurd, but I didn’t want to leave him. Ever.
I returned the next day. And the next. Even now, I feel pulled to return as often as I can. I can’t seem to help myself; he is like a drug to me. When I am unable to venture the half mile to his domain, I am unsettled and worried. I just want to see that he is safe and happy. I need to know he still exists.