Empty table.

My babies went back to school-school on Thursday.  Today is August 27 and I haven’t opened a single Sonlight IG yet.  I should be good at this, you know, the sending them off process.  They each went at least 170 times last year.  Well, not George.  But the other ones.

They are all going back to the same schools, and I know for sure that they are in good places.  They are all happy, they have excellent teachers, they have good friends – good in all senses of the word – and they are being academically challenged.  So what’s my problem?

I know it’s far healthier to make a gratitude list instead of a whine list, but I thought perhaps if I were objective about why it bothers me so much perhaps I could change some little bits and make it not so heartbreaking.  So here we go.  See the picture above?  It is DARK in that picture.  And it’s still summer.  I know this probably seems obvious to you, but it sort of  surprised me when I figured it out.   I learned last year that if Sam and Emily leave in the dark when it’s summer, they will leave in the dark for the entire rest of the year.

Most kids pack pencils and notebooks into their backpacks, but Danny carries a spare oxygen cannula, tube feeding supplies, three different kinds of medical tape, formula with pure carbohydrates and formula with carbohydrates, fat and protein.  Let’s see, a thermometer, a stethescope, a calibrated blood pressure cuff, and materials to check for pH and ketones.  Danny doesn’t have to get to school until 8:40, but oh my gosh, I worry about him while he’s away from me.  He has awesome nurses; he has an RN at his side every second of every day.  Not only do they know their medical skills, they know Danny.  And he loves them (we all do, they are our home nurses too…) But still.  I worry.

And then Brian.  At the other end of the day we have his time problem.  Thursday his bus got here at 6:05 PM.  So I had babies gone from my house for 12 hours.  And he’s supposed to somehow eat supper, do homework (lots of homework.  but that’s another post), practice his violin and go to soccer practice all in the time between 6 PM and bedtime???  I know the bus will eventually start getting here earlier, but I’m not sure it could EVER be early enough for me!

So I really miss them.  I miss the science labs on the kitchen floor.  I miss piles and piles of Sonlight readalouds.  I miss Latin grammar.  I miss the noise and the singing and the “Mom!  Hey MOM!”  all the time.  It was never, ever boring in my house.  On bad days when I just didn’t feel up to getting out of bed, there was a steady parade of children to climb into my nest with me and talk about all sorts of things.  Or just make a George sandwich and snuggle.  Whatever, you know?

But here’s what I miss most.  Lunch.

When my babies are home, you can’t ever see the paint stains on the table.  You can’t even see the parts where we’ve sanded off so many layers of paint stains that there’s not very much table left.  Actually, you probably wouldn’t be able to see the empty yogurt container or the spots on the floor either 🙂  Just people.  Plenty of people.  It’s a well documented fact that children who have supper every night sitting around a table with their families thrive in many ways that children who don’t get to have that chance.  But why limit it to evenings?  I really, really miss lunch with my kids.  Talking, singing, arguing, planning, more talking. 

Hmmm… I’m not sure listing my gripes about sending my children off to school-school was therapeutic at all.  Actually, it’s giving me anticipatory separation anxiety for Monday already.  I know school-school is the right thing to do, but it’s that empty table that gets me, every time.

12 thoughts on “Empty table.

  1. Sweet Elizabeth, I am so sorry that this season of your life has so altered the very fabric of your mothering days, of your children’s childhoods. I thank God every day that despite my health concerns and these new disabilities I can (and do) still homeschool my children. Homeschooling is more than an education: it is a family lifestyle philosophy. Adjusting to change in that arena would be horribly difficult for me too! Pray to God to soothe your heart in this; pray for peace and ease of mind. Pray for comfort, for steadiness of heart and hands.

    Peace & Blessings,
    Ellie

  2. Fill that table with a sewing project… or scrapbooking… or George and paints. That would be plenty of “full” for me five days/week. I am *SO COMPLETELY NOT* the homeschooling type.

    Irene is knocking at my doors. How long will we have the luxury of power, I wonder. Was Irene gentle to you?

    Love, hugs, prayer. Me

  3. I can understand. After 3 years of bagged lunches, we moved and my kids were able to come for lunch for two years. The school was shut down, and now we’re back to bagged lunches AND a bus. As much as it annoyed me having to be home by 11:25am every day, I am really going to miss it.
    I can’t imagine sending kids off to school SO early that it’s still dark in August. Isn’t it light out by 6:30am? I don’t know, I try not to open my eyes, but definately it’s light by 7am here.
    Can Brian do his homework on the bus, or at lunch, or while waiting for the bus home? (how long is school that they’re gone for 12 hours? That’s as long as my husband used to be gone for work, I can’t imagine it for a child). When I studied music, I spent my time on buses and trains reading my music, “air playing”, doing the listening portions of class, or listening to the songs I was learning.
    Hope you get a new “normal” worked out 🙂

  4. I like Esther’s ideas…scrapbooking…maybe I should take her advice as well! I know George would love to help you with some “art” projects,too!

    I also have to agree with Esther…homeschooling would have ended by week two! It was hard to let them go…but now you can enjoy the “adventures” they tell. ( I don’t miss the homework dramas, though!)

    Love, hugs and prayers!

  5. sent my boy to college today. I’m dreading Monday and his empty place at the table. I will pray for you when I look across the table and see his empty chair. And I will think of you with each of my tears for my own. Much love and hugs!! Praying for you daily.

  6. Yesterday after mass a friend and I were whining about our homeschool trials. She has a couple of teenagers at home; I have a couple in college and probably about 13 more years of HS to go with the remaining. We ended the conversation agreeing that we’d give our right arms for a good Catholic school.

    Your emptiness was a good reality check for my pity party. (Although I’m still praying for that good Catholic school).

  7. Those mornings off to school before there is sun always were rough on me (not my son — he is always ready for school). It just seems so cruel to have to be up and out the door before the world is awake. And home after six? No, that is just not right. What a long day!

    Danny looks so excited. He always lightens my heart when I see him.

    I like the idea of crafts at the lunch table. I bet George would love it!

  8. You are an amazing mother, and I pray that this change gets easier with time. I also like Esther’s suggestion. Maybe you can find a way to take advantage of the quiet time to relax and focus on YOU.

  9. Love that picture of George swinging – he’s really starting to look a lot like his older siblings as he grows from toddler to little boy.

    Just a side note, since it’s been a long time since I stopped by and I was scrolling through old posts catching up and saw that your family visited MIT. One of my older brothers graduated with his undergrad and masters in Computer Science and Electrical Engineering from MIT and absolutely loved it. Hard work, of course, but fantastic professors and a very strong and vibrant Christian community. This is the boy who dressed up as a Math Professor for his birthday at age 6, so it was the perfect place for him :-).

  10. Today was the first day of school-school in my little town. I’m trying to use my time productively to catch up with everything —- laundry, bills, un-avalanching. (You know what I mean by that!)
    Hope this week is better for your spirits. Missing you. Love, hugs, prayer — me

  11. I appreciate this photo of your table. I know the longing of a full table, talking, books scattered about. Four of our eight are “grown” (16,18,19,21) and moved away to college and careers. Our huge table is half full…talk about ONLY half full! We still sit in our assigned seats waiting for each of them to return… Only I seem to notice this place holding honor, but it silently occurs day after day. Year and again. I tell you, I’m going to have to saw my table down just to cope as the numbers diminish. The children will think I’ve lost my mind. First, I build the massive table, then I saw it down bit by bit forcing them to sit in a different formation. Smile 🙂 Tables are for gathering together and sharing, for doing projects, for making messes, for climbing and sitting, for covering and setting flowers upon, for prayer and reflection.
    God is in every moment. Sitting with us at our tables.
    Praying for you often,
    Kathi

  12. Okay, you are totally making me cry. Well, thank you for making me be grateful for the unceasing contact with my children and relentless NOISE because it could be worse: they could be away from me!

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