Back in January I declared my bloggy resurrection, only to promptly fall prey to both the winter doldrums and over-the-top busy-ness. We had three school-aged children going in three different directions several times a week, including (but not limited to) participation in a play at a local private school, robotics and rocketry meetings and competitions, soccer games, and two different kinds of lessons (tennis and horsemanship). Despite all this, I never gave up the idea of blogging entirely because I value it greatly. It’s an orderly space that’s all mine, and I need to flex my writing-and-thinking muscles often, or at least as often as I can.
So here I am.
I actually started this post on a whim, surrounded by snack-eating children, trash-bag protected tabletop and tempera paint pucks, scattered books, Legos, and even a small canister of Flarp! I’m mid-book right now, and the last books I finished aren’t remembered well enough to share a whole post. So my mind cast about for something else to share, and I landed on Julie.
Yesterday I got to meet Julie Bogart for the first time in real life. I’ve corresponded with her via email, chatted with her online, read and used her homeschool materials, and even attempted to share the same physical space with her twice. The first time I was all set to attend her first retreat in Ohio when I had to cancel my plans due to a family emergency. Then last September two homeschooling buddies and I booked flights to Austin, Texas, to attend another retreat, only this time Julie had an accident was unable to attend the retreat herself. (We did get to meet two of the lovely and completely wonderful Brave Writer ladies and see Julie on the big screen.) My local Brave Writer friends and I were flabbergasted when we learned that she was coming to a small conference in Cullman, Alabama, this summer, and we purchased our tickets quicker than you can say the words poetry teatime. (We didn’t want to run the risk of the event selling out!)
When I got home last night after a full day of homeschool friends, fellowship, and Julie, one of my girls asked me, “Was it everything you thought it would be?” That struck me as funny because after all, Julie is just a flesh-and-blood person, not a celebrity (even though I think of her as that myself). However, with that being said, it was everything I expected (or maybe the better word is needed) it to be.
Someone once said, “Nothing endures but change.” (The Internet tells me it was someone named Heraclitus, though I think the quote sticks in my mind because someone said it once in one of the Anne books or maybe in one of the movies. Anyway.) I know that much is true. Just when you think you’ve got it all figured out, your kids go and grow up a little bit on you. Just when you think you’ve got it all figured out, things get stale. Just when you think you’ve got it all figured out, you realize your life is for living, too, and you’ve been just surviving it instead of living it. Just when you think you’ve got it all figured out, a kid turns out to be different than you expected him or her to be.
That’s why I love Julie so much. She explains all of this from the unique perspective of someone who has homeschooled and raised five children. She does it from the perspective of someone who freely admits it wasn’t perfect, that we’re all just figuring it out as we go along. She brings the perspective of someone who never stopped learning and growing, and she has made it both her passion and her business to come alongside homeschool families and support them, not just in the teaching of writing but in the figuring out the messy, glorious building of a family culture.
My biggest takeaways yesterday had nothing to do with teaching writing at all. (Not that I have that mastered–ha! However, I fully appreciate and subscribe to the Brave Writer philosophy and feel like I grasp it enough for there not to be many surprises in what she says regarding that.) My takeaways mostly had to do with what she calls Awesome Adulting and the raising of teenagers. Actually, those two things are intertwined somewhat, too, at least in my mind. A conference attendee asked her at the end of her last session yesterday a question about homeschooling a son who was just entering high school. She was wondering what homeschooling should look like for teens. Julie responded with the idea that teens require risk and adventure, that those two things are vital to their development. It’s the main thing they’re after during the teen years, though obviously those things look different for different teens. Julie basically said that it’s time for mom (or whoever does the homeschooling) to maybe take a step or two back and let the teen go a bit–to find his or her place in the world, in whatever way seems best for that teen. And what is mom supposed to do while that is happening? Be available, of course, but–find a hobby! Immerse herself in her own life, in her own passions, in her own callings. This was the right word at the right time for me yesterday because our family is in transition for just those two things. Lulu will be entering public school next year as a ninth grader. It’s time for her to spread her wings a bit. It’s certainly not been without its moments of sadness (sometimes deep sadness for me), but I feel peace in my heart that this is the right thing for her. The other part of this is that I’m seeing that it’s time for me to “dust off some old ambitions” (as Anne once said) and find a small place for me to re-enter the wider world again. I’ve been home full time for over five years now, and it’s time. Will life by crazy? Yes. Will it be hectic at times? Yes. Will it be worth it? I think so.
Thank you, dear Julie, for helping me both see and stay on the healthiest path for my family. I’m thankful that I “met” you all those years ago.