My husband has seen God’s divine rehearsal on his job, and it has been mind-blowing to sit back and realize where God has brought him within one year. I posted about his trial of faith here, and to look at his results now, you’d never believe that he went through what he went through such a short time ago. The turn-around is nothing that we can attribute to anything except God; it seemingly happened overnight and my husband was totally unaware of how his numbers changed literally exponentially. He is now in the hunt for a very big honor—an all-expense-paid trip to Hawaii in the spring of next year. He is very excited about it, but I’ve said to him in all candor that I’d love for him to place just outside of being eligible for the trip, but still high enough to be recognized. Everyone, including him, thinks my elevator quit going to the top. For me, it’s an all-too-blatant reminder of one of the many ways that homeschooling has impacted our family—I think for the good. He and I have already begun talking about where the kids might stay if we indeed get to go. For various reasons, we’re struggling with an option that we feel comfortable with, and that the kids would want to go and be able to enjoy themselves. The bottom line for us is this: we love being together as a family. The kids love to be around us, and we love to spend time with them, for them.
My husband was speaking to another of his co-workers, a shoo-in for the trip, about the trip as this would be “Mr. Shoo-in’s” second time being honored in such manner. As he talked about how elated he and his wife always are to break away from the kids, my husband was explaining our dilemma. The coworker’s response was, “You mean you never take a vacation without your children?” I never thought about it, but in truth, it’s been years since we’ve gone somewhere that we didn’t take them. In fact, most of our trips have centered around them if the truth be told. From the Grand Canyon after a year of earth science, to the trip to Myrtle Beach for the son’s dance competitions, to Fiesta Texas after they exceeded the Read to Succeed requirements, we’ve hit the road as a five-person unit for years now.
Don’t get me wrong. I do realize that couples need their personal time, and although our marriage survived many years of neglecting this area when our children were smaller, we will find time to steal away for some adult conversation and quiet time, even if it’s just down the street at the local Sonic. With the 1950’s-like drive-up theme, I feel like a teenager out with my high school sweetheart sucking down fruit slushies in the car. All I’m missing is a poodle skirt and bobbie socks (smile). We also make sure that our time here is our own as well, making sure the kids don’t sleep in the middle too much. He has stated that he’d love for us to take an extended weekend and do something as just the two of us, but he’s also said that this is a nice-to-have as opposed to something that the marriage desperately needs.
When people realize that we’re homeschoolers, one of the inevitable questions we get asked is something along the lines of, “How do you do it?” or we hear emphatic statements such as “I wouldn’t have the patience!” My immediate reaction to that question is a very practical response: it’s not for everybody, I say. You have to love being around your kids all day. I go on to speak to what I anticipate as the other person’s response: many people will say they love being around their children because that’s what you’re supposed to say, right? But when you see that yellow school bus ride by…
It’s not a pretty answer, it’s not the most “spiritual,” but inevitably it plants a seed in the listener’s ear: do you love being around your children all day? And if not, why not? I learned the semi-hard way that my mission as a homeschooler is not to convert every other parent to homeschooling; this is, without doubt, a calling. But I struggle with how comfortable people are shoving their children off on others. I struggle with how casually young mothers decide to have children, married or not, and then leave them for grandmothers and aunts to raise. And on a separate, but related, topic, I’ll say this: I don’t care how much the media and the Republican party dresses up Sarah Palin to be what songstress Chaka Khan coined as “I’m Every Woman, It’s All in Me,” there are some realities to trying to run a state or a country and be a mother to 5 children, and especially one with special needs. If there’s one lesson I’ve learned in increasingly stepping back from work, it is this: just because you have education, wit, and skill to complete a task doesn’t mean that you should be the one to complete it. David possessed everything, including desire, to build God’s temple, but he was told by God that Solomon would be the one to do it. (Yes, though I began with Huckabee like many of you, I am, after much prayer, going to vote for Obama and Biden, with reasons that extend far above and beyond the fact that Obama and I are both African-American, and if it costs me all of my blog friends and followers, this will be my private, yet public, journal). I digress, but I’m so weary of seeing e-mail after e-mail on this topic, and I felt the need to say something about it somewhere.
Even more recently, my husband talked to another co-worker, a female in this instance, who’d just come back to work after the birth of her second child. She is excited to be back. Her husband took maternity leave from his job to keep the children (2 years old and a newborn), and the co-worker locked her door so as to sequester herself from both the children and the husband’s desperate cries of, “What do I do now?” She happily told my husband of this new freedom, declaring that she is definitely not a stay-at-home mom.
So my husband might have been a bit shocked in the moment and embarrassed to answer this question readily (no offense and I love you, dearest, should you read this), but I say flat-footed that no, we don’t take vacations without our kids. And guess what? We love it that way.