Either way, it dragged on for a couple of weeks. I was painfully aware that they were always here and that they seemed to think that I should take care of them, drive them around, feed them several times a day, and, on top of that, teach them! What madness is that?? ;) And, of course, poor Kaleb would come home from school, expecting me to be ready to chat about the day or quiz him on Spanish. And, all I would want to do was hide under my blanket in my recliner.
I don't want to sound too dramatic. Although, I think it might be too late for that. I wasn't regretting my decision to home school. It only took a few moments of pondering the alternative to know that this was definitely what I wanted. I was just a bit burnt out.
What's the point? This is the point.
I was walking into Target with Antwan and Lizzie. Now that William is 13, he likes to stay in the van and play his tablet when we go to the store. And, when it is a short trip, I let him. So, we were walking in. I was holding both of their hands, a walking pose that I would normally just love to pieces. But, today, I was mentally grumbling that I had been dragged to Target by Antwan who wanted to buy a new toy with his allowance. That's when I ran into her.
"Her" is a teacher at Lizzie and Antwan's former preschool. Although, they never had her as a teacher, her daughter was Lizzie's teacher and she is just as nice as her mom. I don't know either one of them all that well, but I really, really like them and wish I knew them better. Anyway, I think she asked me how homeschooling was going. And, when I usually say how wonderful everything is, instead I made some kind of comment about how they are always there. I was trying to be funny (with a side of truth), but I'm not really sure that it came off that way. Anyway, I kind of expected her to agree that it's hard, overwhelming, or something like that. She didn't. With a smile, she just said something about how I should enjoy this time, they won't be young forever, or something to that effect. My memory is fuzzy on her words, but the message was clear to me. The message was clear because she was taking a page from my own book. I should remember to be grateful for the moments.
I walked away from her feeling a little paranoid that she would judge me and feeling a little guilty for saying it what I said. And, I was also wondering why she wasn't quite as up-beat as normal. (She was not rude in any way, just didn't seem as perky.) But, the important thing is it snapped me out of my funk. She was totally right and I totally needed to get it into perspective.
And, I did. After that moment, I felt revived. The whole homeschooling thing and parenting, in general, is still exhausting and overwhelming, of course, but there's nothing else that I want to do more. (With the possible exception of hanging out with Batman. That would be pretty cool, too...)
Why do I feel compelled to write about it now? Because I just learned that when I ran into this woman on a random afternoon, she was going through her own struggle. She had been sick since December and they didn't know what was wrong yet. They just recently discovered it's cancer. I can only imagine what that has been like for her and her family. And, I can only imagine the struggle to come.
When I heard the news of her cancer, I was brought back to that moment in Target. Suddenly, the conversation meant so much more. Her casual comment had so much more weight. She was looking at me, a frazzled, overly-tired, burnt out, but healthy mom with my healthy, happy children. She had passed the time in her life when her children relied on her for virtually everything. And, she understood something that I had lost sight of in that moment. Time is fleeting. She didn't know yet that she had cancer. But, she knew that she was sick and was probably quite scared. Knowing now what I didn't know then, her message to me has become an even bigger reminder. We just don't know what the future holds and we should never miss an opportunity to appreciate what we have.
So, my friend, I don't know you well, but I care about you. I will be praying, sending good vibes, wishing on every twinkling star, and crossing my fingers and toes that you will beat this quickly. And, I want to thank you for what you said to me in Target that day. You probably didn't think anything of it, it was just a passing comment for you, but it meant a lot to me.
You have reminded me of what matters. Inadvertently, in your time of crisis, you have helped me and I will always be grateful for that.