Today we are going on an adventure.
The girls giggle. “We’re going on a ‘school excursion’!” they say. We imagine a long straggly crocodile of paired off and name-tagged children, walking hand-in-hand. Where are they off to? The museum? The zoo? The fire station?
No crocodiles for us. No museum or fire station. We pack a picnic, pull on our track pants and running shoes, and grab our cameras. We are off to the lake.
We thump our water bottles down onto a picnic table. We toss our sweat shirts into a pile. The sun glistens off the water. The path beckons our feet.
“Are you ready, team? How many laps of the lake will we run today?”
We overtake old ladies with little yappy dogs, mothers who wait for dawdling toddlers, men who plod with heavy feet, middle-aged women gossiping as they amble side-by-side. We fly down the shade-dappled path and then out into the sun, past children throwing bread to the ducks, over the wooden bridge and past the picnic tables: one lap.
Lap after lap after lap… and then finally we drop with relief onto our picnic table bench, upend our bottles and gulp down water. Our mouths are dry, our legs are tired, our backs are wet, our faces are red. But we feel wonderful.
“Good work, team!” I say. “That was a great run!” The girls grin as I add, “Time for lunch!”
As I munch my sandwich, I look at my four youngest girls. I love spending time with ‘the team’.
“I’m glad you came with us,” I say to Imogen.
“I couldn’t let you go off by yourselves. I’d have missed out on all the fun,” my oldest-at-home daughter replies. “I couldn’t miss an excursion.”
But I wonder how long it will be before Imogen no longer has time to join me and the younger girls when we go off on an adventure. She is 18, and a university student. One day she will be too busy to be part of the team.
When lunch is over, we grab our cameras and set off for one final lap of the lake. This time we stroll along, slowly snapping photos of flowers and ducks and birds and each other.
I look up into a bare branched tree and I notice tiny blossoms just emerging from buds.
Many of the trees might still be dressed in only a few brown leaves, but spring has quietly arrived.
Another winter is over. Another summer is flying towards us.
The seasons come and go, and the years pass by. Has it really been two and a half years since my speed angel girls raced each other around this lake on their scooters, on that beautiful autumn day that caused me to stop and ponder the meaning of joy?
I look at the buds on the trees again, and time stabs my heart with sudden pain. Time is moving far too quickly. Time will take away my team. Will it be this year? Next year? The year after? I don’t know. One day it will happen.
But I refuse to be sad. I push away the time cloud. I smile and snap some more photos and capture this perfect day forever. Why spoil today with thoughts of tomorrow? God will take care of the future. All I need to do is to live right here in the present moment.
I remind myself…
Live each day to the full. Don’t waste one single moment. Let nothing come between me and my children. Love while I can. Have no regrets.
If I can do all that, I know I will be able to move gladly onto the next stage, and that also will be very sweet.
Today I am still enjoying the unschooling adventure.