Thursday was the last official day of Junior Year of High school for my son. Homeschool ended for my middle school girls finished their homeschool curriculum on Friday.
Reflecting on how time flies and how hard it is to believe one will be starting high school in the fall. The other will be starting 7th grade.
Didn’t they all just start kindergarten? That is beside the point. Sorta, but I digress.
Sophia, my oldest, finished her first full semester of college two weeks ago (you have heard her story before.) She began her first summer course last week. I also finished my first grad course – the first class for me in 25 years – for the Master’s I am pursuing.
It was a beautiful day on Thursday afternoon, so we finished the day and the school with a “spirit/field day” style of outdoor events with the kids.
My kids can make a party out of anything. We had water balloons, sponge races, water gun fights, bucket dumps, and s’ mores by the fire at days end.
So basically, the academic year of 2019/2020 is officially over in our house. And honestly, I can say it is not a single moment too soon.
We are weary people.
On Wednesday, on our way to run an errand, my son and I drove past his high school campus. We talked about the usual and crazy end of year schedule of events that swallows up our time in May.
We lamented over not getting to do those things. We listed all of the events, even the ones that sometimes annoyed us, and we rushed through because time was an enemy.
It was good to pause, name them, and remember the fun and chaos.
Attending everything on the calendar is always a juggling act to a family with four kids at the end of the school year. The kids earn these celebrations to display their artwork, play their music, give speeches, and say goodbye to the year.
It is often hard to be everywhere, but we always managed to get to every event with a smile and a few ice cream celebrations.
It was exhausting and exhilarating, to say the least. And quite often bittersweet with big feelings for the transitions as each school year would come to a close.
This year we had the “exhausting,” but not so much the “exhilarating.” Maybe it was exhausting and bewildering. Or how about exhausting and debilitating. You get the point. We never end a year on a “pandemic-al” quarantine note.
No matter what exact feelings we felt, we voiced how we missed so many things we love about the crazy busy month of May.
I came across this picture today. It was quite a surprise that it was 5 years ago to date.
Quite a timely reminder of how this journey of life really is never set in stone.
When I took this picture in 2015, I wrote that we were counting down the last 15 days the kids would be together in one school.
It was a bittersweet time, to say the least. There is always a tension between wanting to keep our kids young and loving to watch them grow.
I took several car selfies with the kids in those 15 days. They were days filled with endless end of school year events.
The end of that year, came big smiles and sometimes small aches.
When my oldest was in first grade, we started at the school, and I was pregnant with my youngest. Bittersweet to watch my babies grow up in one place.
At the end of 2015, my daughter was finishing 8th grade with grand plans for high school in the fall.
As the school year came to a close, our family hit pause. We decided to take a leap of faith and make some changes.
And in no time, we were juggling 4 kids in three different schools.
It’s difficult to believe my son just finished his junior year and will enter his senior year in September. His high school days will soon be winding down but not after a full promising senior year to come.
Though, I’ll admit its hard to look ahead when we are still living in so much unknown, confusion, and changing information.
There were many exciting things to look forward to in this season that just passed us by and were suddenly put to rest.
So we decide to stay in the moment. Isn’t that what we are supposed to do anyway?
Isn’t it better to live with eyes fixed moment to moment without the worry and wonder of tomorrow?
“Isn’t it funny how day by day nothing changes, but when you look back, everything is different?” – C.S. Lewis
Sure there are so many unknowns, so many frustrations, so many losses during the global stay-at-home order.
In January, I shared about the many upcoming and exciting things for my son. Like so many kids around the world, there were dreams and leaps of faith to travel and the possibilities of summer jobs and internships.
There were passing the baton moments, graduations and celebrations.
There were goodbyes, well-wishes, and thank-yous that faded as quickly as it seems their childhood does.
So many meaningful moments missed.
It has been hard for the kids to process and to wonder what the future holds when we as adults really don’t have any answers.
While my girls were already homeschooling this year, we were prepared for school at home in some ways. Like my son, though, the girls and I had several big trips built-in for the spring as part of their homeschool curriculum. I often tell them I want a do-over for this year because it changed the landscape of their end of the year experience.
Their homeschool experience has not been about staring at screens and adjusting to that. They, too, have missed their own social interactions with other homeschool friends as well. They have missed opportunities to travel, explore, and learn in ways that a traditional academic year would not allow. They wanted it, and I wanted it for them. We had to let that plan go for now.
We have all had to be patient, to be obedient, to refocus, to readjust. And we have learned to manage our big emotions, communicate our worries, fears and redirect them toward how and what we see in the big picture. To redirect how we learn to handle future events. And most to remember, our Good and Faithful Father and Creator is the one in control.
I ask my family often, how will we remember this time?
Will we look back and remember only the hard and scary stuff, the losses, the things that we missed?
Will we look back and realize we re-discovered one another more deeply?
Will we remember how we stopped to look at one another in the eyes sometimes over a mask under which we often felt like we were suffocating?
Will we remember something else?
Things were not perfect, we fought and defended our positions, but learned to offer grace.
We were cranky, and rather than step on each other toes, we provided much-needed space.
We were noisy and happy but extended compassion when another didn’t know they needed it and did not want to join the fun.
And sometimes, we slept far too late because we had impromptu rocking dance parties.
We checked on each other and gave hugs and cracked jokes.
We learned how to pay attention to those living in this safe space.
We laughed, stayed up beyond reasonable hours, ate endless homemade bread, watched movies, played Kahoot, and sometimes walked in circles.
The kids learned to ride skateboards and made movies to tell about it.
We walked miles upon miles and organized workout circuits and ran stair climbs challenges in our back yard. And we were chased by one possessed little Frenchie named Clyde. (here is Clyde cooling off after spirit day.)
Did I mention we ate LOTS of homemade food and drank too much coffee?
And if this journey of life offers us a glimpse in the rearview mirror, you shift your eyes in that direction.
For me, a big feeler, I look back to the end of the school year of 2015 to when all kids were in one car on the way to school together for one last time.
I knew it was the beginning of new possibilities and ever-changing adventures. I desperately wanted to freeze time and hold onto that little moment for a bit longer.
We know we can’t do that, but we can look forward to a time where we are gifted with a small surprise and find a picture to remind us.
While it is not lost on me that many have suffered, many have lost so much. We have lost a great deal too.
The great pause, the pandemic (I still cringe when I say the word), has caused so much unexpected hardship and feelings we cannot yet explain.
Sometimes we are met with pleasant surprises even in challenging times.
For a moment in time or during a pandemical quarantine, my kids got to finish out the school year under the same roof once again.
We are not snapping a selfie in my car on the way to school one last time together. We did recreate the picture for fun-I am sorry, humor me. But we are marking a moment that we finished school under the same roof —schooling together once again.
This time offered many challenges, grief, and feelings that we will eventually come to understand and begin to name.
Still, I can only hope we will look in the rearview mirror to be reminded of all the memories we made, (the good, the bad, the ugly and the downright fun).
When we look back, we will see the gifts, strength, patience, and resilience we found, and we will remember above all else, there was always love.
“So whoever is in Christ is a new creation: the old things have passed away; behold, new things have come.” – 2 Corinthians 5:17