14 years ago today I was 17 and wading through grief, fear, and pain in my own life. My father died from cancer three months before and my mother was on her way to the doctor because she had just found a lump in her breast that we would soon find out was cancer. I was home from school sick, feverish, and depressed. When I woke up from a short morning nap, I looked at the television and saw planes crashing into the World Trade Center buildings.
I first thought I was hallucinating from the high fever. Then I felt anger that though my own world was crashing around me and no one could see it the way they could see this tragedy. And then I remembered the families. All of the families who were about to feel all the pain that I was feeling plus feelings I could never imagine. I wept for them, for those that had been scared, for all who were touched, for me and the orphaned me I feared was about to be born. I wept for the dead and dying, and for the first responders. For those running from the rubble and for those running towards it. I wept for those who had ever lost someone and for those who had been lost and not had the whole world weep for them. I wept for the misguided souls who were the instruments of this tragedy. I wanted to pray. I tried to pray, but I could not.
I didn’t feel September 11th the way others did. I didn’t feel it selflessly or in fear for my life. I did not feel it truly compassionately. Even now when I remember it, it is mired in the memories and tumultuous feelings of my seventeen year-old self. We all remember today where we were and what we were doing when we were attacked. May we also remember what we took away from the tragedy. For me it was to mourn the loss of every life, and to feel as honestly and deeply as I can the loss of those who survive. To weep with them as if the whole world did for the victims of 9/11. To remember that whenever someone dies, life does crumble for those who survive them, and to shoulder a bit of their grief when I can.
May their memories be eternal!
* Disclaimer: This is a hot-button topic in some circles. I’m not casting any stones in this post, just giving the run-down on why we do what we do.
Other than pretending to believe in Santa for much longer than was socially acceptable because I knew I was my parents’ last shot at jolly elf high jinx, there was no part of the Santa thing that was especially traumatizing. Not the finding out or fretting about how the security of our house was apparently easily compromised. None of that stuff. Matthew on the other hand felt a little lied to. Nothing major though, I don’t think.
We decided before we had kids that we wouldn’t do Santa. This can be kind of socially stigmatizing, I’ve found. People either think we are religious nuts (maybe true?), or that we’re giant grinches (not at all true). Now, we do celebrate St. Nicholas day. We learn about St. Nicholas, set out our shoes, and the like. The girls know that someone they love is placing treats in their shoes in the spirit and traditions of St. Nicholas. They know that Santa is a character fictionalized from the real St. Nicholas. They know that some children believe with all of their might that Santa is real, and we are the holder of a secret that could make them very sad and upset, and so we are to keep that for them.
The main reason we don’t “do” Santa in our house is because I think he is distracting to the real reason for Christmas. I’ve been accused of stealing the magic from the girls’ holiday season by not participating in this custom. But what, my friends, what is more magical than the Feast of the Nativity of Christ? What is more wondrous than God, come down from Heaven, born of a virgin, to save us all from certain death? What is more beautiful than the depth of that kind of love? They are not lacking any wonder in their lives. Their lives are wonder.
So, to my girls Santa is a fun tale. Sometimes we see him out and about. I even have some vintage decorations that were my father’s that have Santa on them. The girls keep the secret, and we can have some fun with it, but I’m glad when someone asks them about Christmas, their first thought isn’t about Santa, but about the birth of Jesus.
there are hard days.
And sometimes, there is this.
We’ve been talking about national landmarks and symbols in our Social Studies lessons lately. We’ve learned all about the bald eagle, Liberty Bell, American flag, etc. Today was our White House Day.
Pretty much I’ve just been feeding her facts and we’ve been doing a craft on the symbols each day. Information and crafts are her two favorite things, so this little unit has been a hit. Today we decided to do a little video tour of the White House. Unfortunately, I couldn’t get it to work, but the website did have an awesome little activity on the oval office.
The first step was proclaiming Adeline the president. When I said, “Adeline! You were elected president of the United States!” she began to nervously giggle and shake a little. With those words, my girl thought she was actually the president. Goodness, after we typed her name, the internet even said it! She was giddy, but then the gravity of it all hit her pretty fast.
“Wait! I don’t meet any of the requirements! I’m only six! I don’t make good choices!’
She was obviously relieved when I told her that it was just for pretend and sake of the activity. She loosened up a bit and was able to properly settle into her new office.
Activity found here.
I am so grateful to those of you who have expressed that my last post was encouraging to you. I have been asked questions about how we do what we do with the other two little ones, what subjects we cover, and what curriculum we use. I know there are moms of six, seven, or more that do it, but I thought I would share today what a homeschool day looks like for us.
Today it looks like this:
This is Adeline having a biscuit and a smoothie with her Papa at a restaurant. She’s currently on a hard reboot.
Monday and Tuesday were great homeschool days. We made a model of the layers of Earth out of clay, we learned about the Liberty Bell, took a virtual tour of the Statue of Liberty, and Adeline spelled words like ‘couldn’t’ and ‘wren’ without issue. But today my love woke up in a foul mood…and I kind of did, too. She refused to do her chores properly, refused to pick up a giant mess she helped make, and was sassy and contrary. I yelled. She yelled. She cried. Papa swooped in to save the day, taking her out for a reboot. Today she will dust the church while he has a meeting, go to the barber with him, perhaps visit parishioners, and take the car for an oil change. She will have time without me and with her (excellent) Papa. I’ve enjoyed time with the two littlest Moore girls and even a little quiet time to myself as I write this.
It is hard to be together all of the time. It’s hard to do work when you’re supremely grumpy. When the two are combined, sometimes everyone needs a day off. I’m glad I didn’t send her off to school today knowing that she would be a stinker to her teacher. I’m glad we have the flexibility to say, “We are not at our best today. We will make no progress.” I know that’s not 100% the real world, but a go-easy day sometimes does far more good than pushing on.
Hopefully tomorrow I can share an outline of our homeschool day, but today we’re taking a small break. Though our aim is something beautiful, and I believe our reasons for homeschooling are good, it is a shaky ride some days.