I never liked being told, “Cherish these days; they go so quickly!” But then I heard the phrase, “The days are long, but the years are short.” Those days, when I was up to my ears in dirty diapers and toddlers demanding my attention, I wondered if it would ever end. Would I ever have an adult conversation again? Even just five minutes peace? Those days did indeed drag on, yet the years have surprisingly flown by.
This year, I am just starting this homeschool journey with my kindergartener. Crayons and markers and stickers and scissors and scraps of paper are scattered across the low table we call the “student desk.” She has a workbook that she begged for, and unit blocks and learning keys. The shelves overflow with picture books and early readers. Stuffed animals and dolls and puppets and Legos spill out of the toy boxes.
But I’m also at the end of my homeschooling journey: my oldest is a college student. A 3D printer chortles and hums to itself in the corner as it prints a new, improved piece for his Nerf gun or a scale model of a prop from the last play he worked on at college. He’s away all day at classes or in the theater or at the job he got on the tech crew at the local amusement park. While he still lives at home, he’s rarely home as he pursues his own activities and interests.
I always knew I’d have a big family, being one of nine children myself. My first child was such a delightful, easy baby, that I didn’t hesitate to have another, and another (six in all).Those who followed the first were more of a challenge, and I sometimes felt lost and alone. But one day, after what seemed like endless years of little ones always demanding my attention, I arranged to meet friends for a field trip to a historic park. Due to a communications mix-up, we never found our friends. Still, I discovered something delightful that day: my children were old enough to be fun companions exploring the park. Together we found benches in the gardens with lovely mosaics, surrounded by plants we hadn’t seen before. We admired the architecture of the buildings, and carefully examined the sample rooms with furniture and clothes from those who lived there long ago. It was a delightful day. And I caught a glimpse of the future: my children growing up and getting closer to the wonderful adults they will someday be.
Some days still feel like they will never end, such as when the kindergartener comes and recites a string of letters and asks me what they spell (usually, nothing I can pronounce since she didn’t include a vowel), or the almost-ten-year-old begs to play a computer game (after you’ve finished important things, like eating breakfast!). But then one will come and tell me about something interesting they learned in a book they found at the library and we share the joy of discovery. As my older children head off to their classes or their jobs that they sought out and got by themselves (without my prodding or help), I see that my job will soon be over, even as I help smooth over a disagreement between my youngest two in the other room. All too soon, they will be heading out the door to their own classes, their own jobs, their own lives. And I’ll sit back and cherish those endless days during those too short years.
Eleen Kamas earned a doctorate in Cognitive Psychology from Carnegie-Mellon University, where she studied learning and memory. After teaching at the college level, her focus shifted to the education of her own children. Her interest in lifelong learning continues as she learns (or re-learns) along with her six children. She has been a part of GHF since its beginning, as a supporter, as staff, and, most recently, as a Board Member. She sees herself as a catalyst, bringing together people and working behind the scenes to make things happen.