Thursday, November 20, 2008

Invisible Mother...

It all began to make sense, the blank stares, the lack of response, the way one of the kids will walk into the room while I'm on the phone and ask to be taken to the store. Inside I'm thinking, 'Can't you see I'm on the phone?'

Obviously, not….. No one can see if I'm on the phone, or cooking, or sweeping the floor, or even standing on my head in the corner, because no one can see me at all. I'm invisible, the invisible Mom. Some days I am only a pair of hands, nothing more. Can you fix this? Can you tie this? Can you open this?

Some days I'm not a pair of hands; I'm not even a human being. I'm a clock to ask, 'What time is it?' I'm a satellite guide to answer, 'What number is the Disney Channel?' I'm a car to order, 'Right around 5:30, please.'

I was certain that these were the hands that once held books and the eyes that studied history and the mind that graduated sum a cum laude - but now they had disappeared into the peanut butter, never to be seen again. She's going; she's going; she is gone!

One night, a group of us were having dinner, celebrating the return of a friend from England ….
Janice had just gotten back from a fabulous trip, and she was going on and on about the hotel she stayed in. I was sitting there, looking around at the others all put together so well. It was hard not to compare and feel sorry for myself. I was feeling pretty pathetic, when Janice turned to me with a beautifully wrapped package, and said, 'I brought you this.' It was a book on the great cathedrals of Europe ... I wasn't exactly sure why she'd given it to me until I read her inscription:

'To My Dear Friend, with admiration for the greatness of what you are building when no one sees.'

In the days ahead I would read - no, devour - the book. And I would discover what would become for me, four life-changing truths, after which I could pattern my work:
No one can say who built the great cathedrals - we have no record of their names. These builders gave their whole lives for a work they would never see finished. They made great sacrifices and expected no credit.
The passion of their building was fueled by their faith that the eyes of God saw everything.

A legendary story in the book told of a rich man who came to visit the cathedral while it was being built, and he saw a workman carving a tiny bird on the inside of a beam. He was puzzled and asked the man, 'Why are you spending so much time carving that bird into a beam that will be covered by the roof? No one will ever see it. ' And the workman replied, 'Because God sees.' I closed the book, feeling the missing piece fall into place.

It was almost as if I heard God whispering to me, 'I see you. I see the sacrifices you make every day, even when no one around you does. No act of kindness you've done, no sequin you've sewn on, no cupcake you've baked, is too small for me to notice and smile over. You are building a great cathedral, but you can't see right now what it will become.'

At times, my invisibility feels like an affliction. But it is not a disease that is erasing my life. It is the cure for the disease of my own self-centeredness. It is the antidote to my strong, stubborn pride.

I keep the right perspective when I see myself as a great builder. As one of the people who show up at a job that they will never see finished, to work on something that their name will never be on.

The writer of the book went so far as to say that no cathedrals could ever be built in our lifetime because there are so few people willing to sacrifice to that degree.

When I really think about it, I don't want my son to tell the friend he's bringing home from college for Thanksgiving, 'My Mom gets up at 4 in the morning and bakes homemade pies, and then she hand bastes a turkey for three hours and presses all the linens for the table.' That would mean I'd built a shrine or a monument to myself. I just want him to want to come home. And then, if there is anything more to say to his friend, to add, 'you're going to love it there.'

As mothers, we are building great cathedrals. We cannot be seen if we're doing it right. And one day, it is very possible that the world will marvel, not only at what we have built, but at the beauty that has been added to the world by the sacrifices of invisible women.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Big changes afoot...

Many of you know that Bryan and I have been considering our academic options for Cadey for her Kindergarten year for several months now.

It first began when I realized Cadey would be moving up from the great school the kids were attending for preschool. A friend and I hatched the idea that I could teach Kindergarten at the preschool (she would be my assistant.) I was aware that the preschool had plans to grow, however wasn't sure where they were in that plan. Let me digress for a minute and tell you more about the preschool. It's AWESOME: loving but firm teachers, great academics, small class size, half days, bible stories, chapel time, etc. etc. etc. So, I proposed opening a K class for the 2008-2009 school year with me being the teacher, and following the same type of curriculum already offered. They considered it. They met and voted on it. All looked good. Except one thing: space. It all came down to space. There wasn't any. Therefore, no Kindergarten there this year.

So then we started thinking homeschool. I looked into curriculum. I talked to a few people. I didn't do a whole lot of research, but before I could research more, I began to doubt my ability to teach my own child. What if I screwed her up? What if I did more damage than good? What if she turned out to be a HUGE geek who couldn't relate to her peers? What if we hated spending that much time together? What if, what if, what if...

So, I moved on. I called all private schools, both religious private schools and just plain private schools. None thrilled me. I even considered driving Cadey to a school on Hilton Head Island, which would have made our car time about 4 hours per day. The more I researched, the more disenchanted I became about all private school options. None of them seemed to have exactly what I wanted for Cadey. One local school wanted close to $13,000 a year for her to go to half day Kindergarten!! I subbed at the school when we first moved here and there wasn't anything I saw there that made me think spending that kind of money on a 5 year old's education was a smart thing to do. (Pun intended!)

So, with August fast approaching, we sent her to the public school where we're districted. I've heard lots of good things from other parents. It's supposedly the best public elementary school in town. However, our experiences have been less than stellar. (Go back to August and Septembers blogs to see how hard the beginning of school was for all of us.) My experience (and Cadey's) at the school has left me more concerned each day. Disrespectful adults yelling and condescending to students while parents are looking on, loooooooong day (over 8 hours), poor academics for average and above average students, many behavior issues, teachers with bad attitudes, and on and on and on.

Let me just say one thing. I think my daughter is smart. Not Albert Einstein smart, but smart. I don't think she should be penalized for that, nor should she have to be bored all day because the teacher is too busy with behavior problems or with working with the kids who can't even hold a pencil yet.

Yes, I've spoken to the teacher -- at length. I'm THAT mom. I used to dread moms like me when I was a teacher. But now the student is MY child -- and I will do anything to make sure she receives an above-average education and that she continues to be challenged to do her best. The teacher has stopped responding to me. When I asked for a more challeging reading group for Cadey, she said she'd talked to the first grade teacher and since they didn't do reading at the same time that it just wouldn't work. That's it. No more looking for ways to keep Cadey challenged. I even offered to come in and work with some of the kids (high, low, average, I don't care) so that all children can be challenged. No response. And now the teacher has ignored some issues I have with the way the assistant talks to the children, and not responded to any academic issues I have.

So, I'm back to homeschooling. Bryan and I have talked about this a lot. Those of you that know us, know that we don't make this decision lightly. It's not because I want to keep my child in a bubble. We've decided that the best teacher for our child right now is me. That may change over time and depending on our locale. However, for now, it's me.

I'm assembling materials, checking the law, dotting my i's and crossing my t's. And praying. For guidance, wisdom, and patience. For a lack of selfishness that I know will pervade my spirit when all I want is some Mom-ME time. Please pray with me.

She is my child. I am her advocate, her teacher. I will fight for what is best for her. She is my child. I am her teacher...

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Disney on Ice

Cadey, Matthew and I joined two of our very good friends for a trip to Savannah to watch Disney on Ice. The kids and I had a great time. They had fun watching all the action on the ice: Cadey was thrilled with the princesses and all the costumes, Matthew was thrilled by the lights, music, and smoke. I was thrilled watching their faces come alive with joy.

I was a bit shocked at how much souvenirs at the show were. Cotton Candy with a cheap plastic hat: $10. Snow cone in a small reusable cup: $10. Almost makes DisneyWorld seem like a deal!!

Once we made it past the souvenir booths, there was a booth for some sort of children's preventative medicine that was giving away FREE stuff. GASP! So, we headed to that booth and the kids got their very first tattoos!

Anyway, enjoy the few photos I took.

This one's for you Daddy!

Matthew was eating a push up outside and heard all the jets fly over. He suddenly got very pensive and told me "I miss my Daddy." When I asked him if he'd like to sing a song to his daddy, he perked right up.

Here's a song especially for you, Daddy!

Bike ridin' fools...

Cadey has finally decided that she's going to ride the big girl bike she received last Christmas. (I think it was the 3 year old who came over to play last week who rode it around that made Cadey think maybe she could do it too!!)

Enjoy a few videos of the pros and cons of learning to ride your bike on a dirt road. (And having a little brother who never wants to be left behind...)

Monday, November 3, 2008

Without further ado...

So, finally, here are the REAL costumes the kids wore this year. You'll have to excuse my REALLY crappy pictures. It was cold, the kids wanted candy, and so I didn't get to take really good pictures. Maybe I'll get them to put the costumes on again at home for a photo op!!

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Halloween photos...not yet!

I know, I know, I know. Some of you have come to our blog repeatedly to see photos of the kids in their Halloween costumes. Well, the wait continues. I loaned my camera (with the photos from the kids trick or treating) to a friend who went to Orlando. I should be receiving my camera back in a few days and will then post the few pictures I have of my dinosaur and Ariel.

In the mean time, enjoy some of the other pictures I took throughout the month of October.