Camaraderie among siblings despite age differences, training in household chores at a young age, developing a servant spirit in the context of family, freedom to pursue interests, a love for learning and literature…these are just some of the “fruits” of homeschooling for us. This is only one side of the story though.
The less desirable consequence is a house that has to be kept “presentable” and organized perpetually. And that is hard work that nobody enjoys especially since it has to be accomplished on top of the more important tasks of feeding everyone (3 meals a day), doing dishes, bathing the smaller kids, weekly laundry, vacuuming, dusting and bathroom cleaning . But it has to be done. Otherwise, one will find: finished and unfinished school projects strewn all about; math manipulatives hiding in every place imaginable (and not safe for baby!); workbooks and books left where they were last used (including the bathroom); printed compositions on every desk or counter; table napkins used as scratch paper to do computations; art materials on top of the washing machine or science experiments on the kitchen counter; measuring cups/icing tips/spatulas inside the bathroom drawer; for the quick physical activity spent outdoors, pairs of socks/mittens inside the toy chest or outerwear spread out on the sofa (and with 4 sets that would seem like someone dumped the laundry there); and crumbs or cups (or fruit peelings!) here and there, evidence of snack time. And to add to that, one can never find anything when one needs it – whether a pair of scissors (even if we probably have a dozen stashed somewhere), the puncher, stapler or sharpener, a pen/pencil or an eraser. But then again, this may be a small price to pay for the rewards.
The picture on the left which was taken a few minutes before heading the older girls’ Valentine piano recital made me stop and savor evidence of that. In it, our 10-year old carries her 18-pound, 4 month old brother (who did not want to be put down at that time and most of the time) while she takes the time to read to her 6-year old brother. It is a book our 6-year old son, who has a special interest in animals, chose by himself on his most recent trip to the library the week before. It is a book everyone in the picture seems to benefit from. And that’s probably why I found them all huddled together on that spot (while our 12-year old daughter was practicing the piano). On second thought, our 4-year old daughter might have decided to join in just because she wanted to cuddle and entertain the baby…something she had enjoyed doing since we brought home our newborn from the hospital.
Whatever it was that brought them all there, it was a sight for me to capture since, to me, it held a lot of meaning. Keeping a household of children full of energy, curiosity, and wonder could, indeed, be a source of a lot of discoveries, spiritual or otherwise. I just have to remind myself that, with certainty, the day will come when I will have an orderly and almost picture-perfect home but only because it will be much emptier than it is today. It makes me wonder if I will stop and take a picture to catch that sight then. But why get ahead of myself when there is still so much of today to enjoy (or at least, try to) these precious moments.