Two Roads Diverged


A year ago, I wrote a post entitled "Choices." It addresses the feelings inherent in watching most of our friends send their kids back to school while we keep ours home beside us. In it I ruminate on the decisions and events that led us to the point of deciding to homeschool.

And it ends with the following words:

We're here. And for the most part, we're content.
(Ask me how I feel again next year.)

Well, "next year" is here. Today all of the local schools started, and my Facebook feed was once again inundated with back-to-school photos.

And the honest truth is that I feel uncertain.

For years we've weighed the decision to homeschool. We pondered whether it was right for us and right for our children, especially our older daughter, who struggles so much with being brave yet craves that social connection with other children.

In the past it was always something that would need to be decided in the future. We had time to change our minds about it still. It was more theoretical and hypothetical than practical and real.

But today all that changed. Today Sunshine's cohort marched off to school for the very first time.

And she went to the library and the park and played.

The reality of that is sinking in, and I'm left with an uneasy feeling in the pit of my stomach. There is no going back from this now. Kindergarten in our school district has started without her.

Do I have my doubts? All the time.

But I still think this is the best thing for her. I still think she will thrive where she is. She's already reading basic words and doing basic math. Traditional kindergarten would be an unending sea of things she already knows--hours a day that she could be doing something else. I want so much more for her than that.

This still feels right, even in moments like today where I doubt our decision. Two paths were spread before us. And, for better or worse, we've made our choice.

As I ended that post last year, I pondered the words of Robert Frost in his famous poem, where he speaks to the idea that "way leads on to way." My English professor, for whom I worked for four years, studies this poem with his students every year, and his words are etched in my mind. According to his interpretation, the traveler sees two equal paths and knows that each ones leads to a different place from whence there is no coming back. And the weightiness of such a decision haunts the traveler, whether it should or not. (It really is a pretty trivial decision in the poem.)

I feel empathy with the traveler, yet ours is not a trivial decision. As the final stanza goes:

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I--
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.
-Robert Frost "The Road Not Taken" 1916

I can only pray that the difference in our daughter's life is a good one that we will be able to look back on with a sigh of peace and contentment--that we won't rue "The Road Not Taken."

For now, I look forward to our own official first day of "school" in another week as she starts her dance class at the local homeschool center. She asks me every day how many days until her class begins. I feel content knowing that she is excited and ready to be brave in her own way and her own time.

(Ask me how I feel again next year.)