The Countdown

I love Christmas time for a lot of reasons. It’s fun, we spend time with family, people are generally more friendly, the delicious food, I love singing Christmas carols…lots of reasons. Every year I do two advent calendars with my kids. One where they get to open a cardboard door to a delicious chocolate treat and another where they stick an ornament on a wall-hanging every day of December leading up to Christmas. We do it because it gives them something to look forward to and also gives them a visual of how many days are left until Christmas so they don’t ask me ten times a day, “How many days till Christmas?”

As the children are counting down the days till Christmas I have an accompanying internal countdown but it isn’t a pleasant one. I will call it the, “How many days till my kids are home with me and I can relax and not worry about somebody shooting them at school countdown.” This countdown isn’t reserved exclusively for Christmas, it also shows up for Easter and Summer break. I do enjoy having my kids home at these times so I do look forward to these holidays but this internal countdown is a stressful, anxious kind of anticipation.

I do OK sending them to school throughout most of the year. I have days where it is harder than others but all things considered I function like a normal parent, haha if there is such a thing. I felt like I was doing fairly well this year leading up to Christmas until…. Well until there were things in the news about the anniversary of the Sandy Hook Elementary school shooting and then a shooting in a Colorado High school, and then I had a nightmare. So now the anxiety starts to build and the mental countdown starts ticking at an accelerated rate. So I guess it isn’t a countdown to when the kids are home, it’s more a countdown of how much longer my brain can take the stress, or maybe it’s a countdown of both?… Yep it’s both.

I would compare it to running a long race. You have done well, had moments of pain and exhaustion but have been able to push through and keep running. You feel confident until you round a corner and see the finish line in the distance. Suddenly the finish line is just too far away, you feel your legs aching, you can’t breath, and you feel like throwing up and throwing in the towel. Of course you don’t quit, you push, you keep running, you cross that finish line and breath a huge sigh of relief.

Given the stress this causes me you may ask, “Why not home school?”
Oh, I have been tempted a great many times but in the end two things win out. First is that I truly believe that at this time public school is the best place for my children. There are things they will learn there that can not be taught at home.  Secondly there is also the rational part of my brain that says, bad things can happen no matter where you are, school, home, movie theaters, standing in a field all by yourself. Accidents happen, people make bad choices, lightning strikes, space junk crashes to the earth. I can’t live life hiding myself and my children away from every possible danger. I teach them what I can, love them immensely, and then take a breath and trust that no matter what happens in life it will, in the end, be alright.

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