You know that nudge? You know, that really, really quiet inner voice in your spirit that ever so gently nudges you along? You have to get real still and real quiet to hear it. Lots of times life keeps us all so busy and occupied that we forget to get real still and real quiet to do much listening. Personally for me, there were many months of 2016 that I spent with my “listening ears” turned OFF instead of ON.
For those who know me, you know I am as stubborn and strong willed as they come. Yielding that kind of spirit to the Lord is something He and I work on daily. I felt God had been putting homeschooling on my heart for the better part of a year. It was something I often thought and wondered about. My gut told me it would be a wonderful fit for Hayden. My strong willed spirit said we had a plan in place, hours of ARD meetings behind us, a plan we had made and by all means we were going to stick to. I could’ve written a list of cons vs. pros and come up with a 100:1 reasons why public school was where Hayden was going to remain. But, somewhere, deep in the back of our minds, Ryan and I always knew there would eventually come a day when Hayden would “age out” per se, of public school.
In 2016, I entered a difficult time in my life. I was feeling down, discouraged, lost, abandoned. I think everyone endures different seasons in life. But this one was the roughest I had ever been exposed to. Now, I have never been one to have panic or anxiety attacks. Even with everything we have going on in our “normal” life, and people always telling me about the stress I’m under *eye roll emoji* ;), I never really felt stressed out – just “my normal.” Until 2016. That’s when I began waking up in the middle of the night from a dead sleep to be tortured by my own body. This got my attention.
I knew I needed to address some things going on in my life and get to the bottom of the cause. I met with a new doctor to review things from a medical standpoint, but I also began meeting with a wonderful Christian counselor who I have now grown to adore. It was during my work with her that I had a realization that possibly I was so strong willed and hard headed that the reason I felt so oppressed was of my own doing. It’s like if you were holding onto a rope so, so tightly that your hand has no more blood flow and the rope you will not let go off is actually what’s dragging you down deeper. The minute you let go and let God take over and trust Him, He pulls you out and the weight that was dragging you down can be replaced by freedom. There were so many things in my life that I was trying to control and worry over that the rope had me and it was dragging me down with fierce power lower and lower. As He promised, God never left me; He was just waiting on my old hard head to let go of the rope so He could carry me. I’m now reminding myself often that I don’t have to be in bondage to any thing, any worry, any person. I am free. And who the Son sets free, oh is free indeed!
This whole thing circles back around to homeschool because there was a day my counselor and I were discussing all the things that stress me out. We rated each individual item on a 1-10 scale and they were all mostly 12s. 😉 And as an exercise she asked me, “Picture yourself homeschooling Hayden. What’s the stress level doing that?” I didn’t skip a beat. It was a 0, no question. Five days later I withdrew him from public school. And would you believe, that right this minute, I can’t even tell you what all the 12s were on that list that day. The minute I heeded the call the homeschool Hayden, I had this incredible, overwhelming sense of peace and calm.
And you know what, I think Hayden did too. We began homeschooling in October, and I would say within just a couple of weeks, he was a completely different child. And I was a different person, too. The weight lifted off, joy was restored. Now, please don’t misunderstand me and hear that I’m never stressed and always organized! Ha! It’s still a hot mess over here and some days are just a wash and we try again the next day. I just think when you’re doing the thing He called you to do, the peace you find in that is so wonderful and reassuring that it makes those everyday stresses more bearable.
We loved his public school team and his teachers, therapists, principals, and they all bestowed their blessings upon us and wished us well. We still keep in touch with them and visit campus on occasion. Grayson still attends that school as a Kindergartner.
Hayden and I both adore homeschool. I treasure my time with him. His health has improved as he is more well rested and gets to sleep past 5:40am each day. He has energy in the evenings and has more play dates as a non-student than he did when he was attending school. The things Hayden endures daily to maintain a baseline of good health is vast and he was doing sets of treatments, catheterizing, g tube feedings all at school plus trying his hardest to get work completed like his other 4th grade peers. Now that we’re at home, he just thrives. I don’t even know how to put it into words. His sense of humor is back. He’s got energy. He has so much interest in learning about topics that he thinks of himself and he asks critical thinking questions – none of which ever happened when he was in public school. And it’s not because it wasn’t there, he was so exhausted and quite honestly, I think he felt an enormous amount of stress from the work load and trying to please everyone and do his best. Bless his soul.
None of us know how much time on this earth we’ll get to enjoy with our loved ones. For our family, this thought is always on the forefront of our minds. We want Hayden to have the best quality of life for as long as possible. And I would say Hayden’s quality of life has improved ten fold since October. Heck, so has his confidence level! I love the honesty, the humor, the love this sweet child offers the world. We may not be taking the STAAR test in this house, but that’s not what life is about anyway. It’s about living your best life, loving people and showing God’s love to others and if those are the only lessons Hayden takes away from his entire homeschool experience, then I have done my job as his mother.