Can we unschool and experience joy or contentment, regardless of our circumstances?
“I speak not as it were for want. For I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, to be content therewith.” Phillipians 4:11
I decided that part of Unschooling for me would be looking for joy at this moment.
In other words, in spite of stressful things in my life, well… as much as possible, I would treat my mothering as the job or vocation that it is.
You know, when you get dressed and go to work outside the home, regardless of what is happening at home, you put on That Bright Face and smile and are cheerful and work hard…Well, that is what I try to remember at home. It’s not my kids’ fault things may be problematic so regardless I try to set the tone… Smile, do something nice even if I don’t feel like it, be willing to give ourselves a break and have fun, say yes more. Go out even just to the park or to a friends house!
Amazingly, when I do this, especially the saying yes more and being with my kids instead of directing them towards schoolwork, then I feel happier and less stressed. Of course, I have moments when I lose it or when I am utterly exhausted and just curl up on the sofa.. But when I look for joy in the little things, when I say yes more, when I hang out with the kids and with my friends, when I put on a smile and some mascara (!), when I make a chocolate church with the kids even though I am tired ( as we did for the dedication of the Lateran Basilica)… Then I just feel happier and love my life in spite of any problems.
I have learned contentment.
I have to say that my prayer life has been of paramount importance. I pray the morning and evening prayers of the Divine Office and I try to get to daily mass and weekly confession. That gives me peace.
“To converse with You, O King of glory, no third person is needed, You are always ready in the Sacrament of the Altar to give audience to all. All who desire You always find You there, and converse with You face to face.” St Teresa of Avila
And I do a workout every day, no matter how short, as those endorphins give me a high!!
We have structure in our day and week, too, just not school structure . Most often structure scheduled around homeschool activities and my work. We do better here with less clutter and more rhythm but that rhythm might be tidy ups pegged to meals and a DVD with dinner most nights for example. Or it could be lie down on the sofa with some Maths and Latin.
These routines pave the way for contentment.
Ultimately, however, contentment and joy are like love…a choice, made in and with His grace.
“The only way to make it in this homeschooling life is to reach for God instead of reaching for happiness. Trying harder to be happy or content will not make you happy and content; trying harder to rest in God and depend upon His grace will. It is a spiritual issue, not a practical one. Contentedness will not come from being more organized, sleeping longer, being a better wife, having a better home, using better materials, having more time to yourself, or whatever you think might help. Contentedness is learned in the process of daily accepting life as God gives it to you, and adjusting your expectations to life’s limitations.” Sally Clarkson, Season of A Mother’s Heart