I think it's safe to say spring has sprung... finally! It's wonderful to see the grass greening up and yes, even the dandelions appearing, after what felt like an interminably long and cold winter.
As dairy farmers, spring is a bit of a mixed blessing for us, in that it's nice to feel the warmth of the sun on our faces, but it's also time for things to ramp up work-wise. We'll soon be on our fields, ploughing and planting. Regardless of the season, our days are bookended with milking and feeding cows, but during the spring, summer, and fall months, we have a lot to cram in between, and often work long after the barn lights are out as well. It's a busy and exhausting time.
Dairy farmers have to plan and pace themselves according to many variables, the weather being a biggie, they have to learn to go with the flow or they'll drive themselves crazy with worry and stress. Everyone knows the weather isn't always exactly cooperative. Another variable is the machinery. A tractor or other farm implement will be working just fine one moment and be laying in a heap the next, with the farmer covered in axle grease, scratching his head, wondering what the problem is. Of course, the breakdowns always occur when least convenient - when it's sunny and he's trying to get the crop planted or the hay off. It can be immensely frustrating. But really, there's no getting around it and if the farmer allows himself to become overwhelmed by the inconvenience, he'll never get his work done. So, he just picks up the wrench, patiently removes the bolts, and looks for the problem, eventually making the necessary repair and getting back onto the field.
Homeschoolers also have to plan and pace themselves according to a number of variables. Real life happens in our real homes, we're not living some idyllic "Little House on the Prairie" episode which sees every life problem worked out and settled within the hour. In addition to teaching our children which is, in essence, a full-time job, we have to manage our homes, our businesses, deal with illnesses and other inconveniences, and it can feel overwhelming at times.
We've been homeschooling for twenty-five years and as our youngest is only seven, we'll be at it a good while longer, God willing. I've learned a thing or two in those years, and one of the most important lessons has been that it's ok to scale back and just focus on the *necessaries*, the basics, "readin', writin', and 'rithmetic."
I've also learned that it's ok that my house isn't perfect. In fact, as much as I complain about my dimming eyesight, I laugh at the fact that when I don't have my glasses on, things look pretty good - the dust bunnies sort of morph into the woodwork. So, when I'm feeling stressed about the grunge and grime I didn't manage to get wiped away, I just take my glasses off and everything looks so much better. It works the same with the wrinkles on my face and the wiry grey hairs popping out all over the place. When I'm not wearing my glasses, I can sometimes fool myself into thinking I don't look half bad! Ha!
I've learned it's ok to eat leftovers, in fact, I make huge meals so there'll be leftovers! We've eaten the same thing for three or four days in a row and we've survived. I've found paper plates to be just as effective as fine china - not that I have any of the latter - it gets the job done when there's little time for washing dishes. When we show hospitality, it's pretty basic, no Martha Stewart decorating going on here, but we do enjoy warm fellowship.
I say all that just to encourage you mamas out there to stop being so hard on yourselves. Just focus on the most important things, there'll be time enough as the days go on to get to some of the less important, but for now it's enough that you're doing the best you can as you lead your little ones to Christ, as you teach them about His ways, His precepts, His promises, and as you prepare them to be productive members of their communities. You don't need all the bells and whistles to get the job done, just perseverance and patience, with a bit of elbow grease thrown in. Don't let the externals distract you, just put one foot in front of the other and do what you know you must, and enjoy these days which are passing so quickly. Before you know it, summer will have come and gone, then fall, and it'll be winter again, so stop today and smell the dandelions... the Lord knows there's enough of them.
I came across a good blog post today called, "Seasons of Life & Home". It echoes what I've shared above.
"And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not."