Today marked the first day of public school for Isabella (first grade) and Mallory (kindergarten).
You would have thought that it was Christmas by the way they were acting. Every two minutes they asked what time it was and whether or not we could leave. When they started running around the house like crazy people, I decided it would be okay to leave a few minutes early.
The girls loaded up their backpacks with their school supplies and lunch bags, confidently walked our short 5-minute walk to school, entered the building, and barely turned to say goodbye to me as I left them for the day.
This is only our second year of having school aged children, but we’ve already tried three different schooling options. Isabella began Kindergarten at a Christian school In Florida last year (you can read about that decision here). We then moved to Virginia right after Christmas, but didn’t get settled into our new home until February, so we decided to finish out her Kindergarten year by homeschooling.
Homeschooling went well: Isabella learned how to read, we finished the year, and even Mallory was able to pick up a few skills along the way.
The biggest take away for me from those few months of homeschooling was that I am not the best person to teach my children right now, maybe ever.
And, not that’s not a cop out or a desire for someone to pat me on the back and say, “Oh, yes you are! You can do it!”
The demands of my other children, some elements of my personality, along with the upcoming arrival of Baby #5 in early December, enabled me to realize that this is not the season for us to homeschool.
Do you know how freeing it is to recognize our limits, accept them and move on?
It feels incredible.
Once we came to this conclusion, the decision to put the girls into public school was pretty simple:
1. It is free.
2. We live behind the school which means no bus rides and I’m right next door.
3. The Elementary school we’re slotted for is one of the better ones in our city.
4. It doesn’t have to be permanent.
5. We felt confident this was the best decision for our family.
So, we enrolled them and went to meet their teachers last week for the school’s open house.
It was a mad house that night.
The girls loved it. They were excited about their teachers, the classrooms, and Isabella even met the girl who sits next to her in class.
I, however, was completely overwhelmed by the crowded halls, the parents, and the thought that my girls were going to be in an environment without me, five days a week, for 6.5 hours a day.
After we put the kids to bed that night I fell apart.
Just because a decision is made and we are confident of God’s leading in it doesn’t mean that all nervousness and fear will be erased.
It does mean that we have a greater opportunity to continue to trust God’s leading, cling to Him, and pray that He will help us with our fears.
As Bradley and I talked through my emotions that night, we both came to the conclusion that at the root of my nervousness and fear, was the realization that I was not in control.
The backgrounds of their peers? Out of my control.
The curriculum? Out of my control.
The way the teachers might speak to them or their classmates? Out of my control.
The interactions with other children? Out of my control.
And as we came to this conclusion, we were reminded that as much as we maybe thought we have been in the past, we have never really been in control.
Yes, we make decisions for our children all the time. Yes, we teach them and train them in the Lord.
But God is sovereign. He is sovereign over the Earth. He is sovereign over the nations. He is sovereign over the circumstances in my life. And He is most certainly sovereign over the affairs of my children, including their hearts.
So as we send our girls off to school this year we are letting them go.
Letting them go to make friends with people who might be very different from us.
Letting them go to learn things that might not align with our world view.
Letting them go to experience a new environment where we don’t make all the decisions.
Letting them go that they might shine the light of Jesus.
But we’re also holding their hands and clinging tightly with them.
Clinging to God through any fears we might face.
Clinging to the Truth of God’s Word and filtering all knowledge through it.
Clinging to our Faithful God who remains the same when our circumstances change.
Clinging to the hope that we have in Christ alone.
Clinging to a Sovereign God who sits enthroned in the heavens.