Summer squabbles and the need for goals

It’s funny; you’d think as a homeschool mom I’d be relieved it’s summer time…time to kick back and take a break from teaching, have long lazy days of relaxing at the beach or park…but actually, it’s been more of me doing household projects neglected during the year while planning camping trips and outings, and the kids spinning their wheels and counting the days till special events.

So I’ve found it’s more challenging to be home with the kids without the structure of homeschool, than with it. Not that we are super regimented, but each day has its basic routine and learning goals and projects. Without this…we’ve had some fun play for a few weeks, but once we were home sick with a summer cold, a lot of squabbling, pettiness, imaginary insults and hurt feelings. 

So today I decided that we needed to make some summer goals… something to focus on and feel good about achieving. Because I think we feel better when we achieve something tangible, than when we simply try to amuse ourselves. Summer boredom is not so much due to a lack of entertainment, as a lack of purpose. 

Here’s what we came up with over morning snack today: 

  
We’ve stuck it on the fridge with giant magnets from my recently visiting brother, so we can see it any time we need something to do. Rather than the kids destroying one corner of the house while I clean another, they can do something fun, useful and cooperative. Right now as I nurse the baby my 10 year old is playing art teacher and helping the younger ones make imaginary planets on big pieces of paper where she traced circles from plates. I haven’t had a ‘police report’ of fighting, name calling, or hurt feelings for over 20 minutes! 😊🎉🎈 For a while I thought I’d have to set up a desk and stay there all day to record filed complaints…

         

Of course, as I write this sentence I hear a fight brewing in the dining room over a secret being kept or something…but hey, we will keep trying! One thing is certain, that seeking personal pleasure and comfort above all is a sure path to misery, because when life is centred on yourself, nothing is good enough and everything displeases. When we instead focus on bringing joy to others, life is an adventure without time for boredom, because there is always someone whose day you can brighten. 

What things do you do as a family to bring joy to others? What summer goals do you have to take advantage of your extra free time? How will you re-create yourself this summer?

“The Wounded Healer” by Henri Nouwen 

  

Shortly after I lost my baby Josephine in labour nearly 6 months ago, a friend lent me this book by Henri Nouwen: “The Wounded Healer: In our woundedness, we can become a source of life for others.”  The idea expressed in the subtitle caught my attention, because it spoke a truth that I had recently discovered myself…that my pain and brokenness had become a means of connecting deeply with others, and of helping them release their own pain. 

This process is not one of having all the right consoling things to say, or of having found a magic solution to blot out pain. Emotional healing is not about making pain disappear, but about learning how to live with it while maintaining a sense of hope and joy. 

There is a huge difference here, because one involves living in the reality of our broken world, with a hope that transcends it, while the other involves hoping in a world that doesn’t exist in the present…one without any suffering. 

Acceptance or denial, peace or rebellion. Choices we make every day when we live in pain. 

The world may tell us that life is not worth living when there is deep pain, and that the supposed nothingness of death would be better. But I can honestly say that there are things pain does which are very beautiful: 

Pain breaks down barriers between people and connects hearts. 

Pain makes beauty stand out in sharp relief, and helps one appreciate what was previously taken for granted. 

Pain burns away the fear of being authentically yourself, because the petty concern of what others might think ceases to matter as much. 

Pain rips open your heart to let the world in; no longer do you judge those who are struggling. 

Pain makes you rely on God, because your spirit needs support to bear this weight gracefully. Meaning with God’s grace. With prayer. 

Connection. Gratitude. Authenticity. Compassion. Interior growth. These are all pretty big gifts. They make life more beautiful and worth living. 

When you truly suffer, your heart hurts deeply, but loves more deeply as well. And this love, coming from a humble place of pain mingled with hope, can be a source of life for others.