Enhanced – read by the author
Real Life Homeschooling

Ashley Wiggers

I’m Starting to Go Gray

I’m thirty-six years old, coming up on thirty-seven in just a few short months. Maybe this is a little early to see gray hairs speckling in with the dark ones around the sides of my face. Here’s the odd part. I’m okay with it. My sweet husband even says he likes them.

I think the reason they don’t bother us is because we’ve been through a lot together and somehow gray hairs seem a fitting representation of the time that has passed and the road we’ve walked. The phrase “I’ve earned these gray hairs” has been found slipping out of my mouth on occasion.

We all have a story to tell with the ups and downs included in this life. When looking back at the path that has led us here, I find gratitude rising up in my heart for God’s faithful hand guiding and sustaining us.

familt photo on left, up close of two kids on right

My brother never made it to the age of gray hairs. My mom left us far too early into her grays. So I see mine as a gift.

Sure, there are days it doesn’t feel much like a gift to grow older, but in my heart of hearts, there is nowhere I’d rather be than spending all day everyday with my family. Something my mom used to say to us regularly was, “There’s no place I’d rather be.” As a kid, it was sweet, but I didn’t think a whole lot about it. Now, having kids of my own, that phrase has become very special to me because there were a lot of other places she could have been. But she chose us. She chose home. She chose simple days filled with morning snuggles, many needs, and sibling fights. And that’s my choice too.

There’s something so sweet and precious about that time just after your children wake up in the morning. They’re not ready to run yet or ask a million questions as they come in to be held and say good morning. When my guys wake up, I’m usually the first person they see on the couch or the back porch trying to get a little work in after spending time with the Lord. Still in the in-between of awake and asleep they drift over to snuggle up while their little eyes blink awake. It’s one of my favorite moments of the day. I’m so grateful we don’t have to rush and hurry getting ready to get out the door. We can just sit together and watch the morning develop around us, noticing all the sights and sounds.

A song I have listened to often lately is titled, Let My Life Be Worship. The lyrics go:

In blessing
In sorrow
In the ordinary
Whatever the cost is,
You’re always worthy

three kids reading a book

We recently found a leak from our fridge that had caused a mold and mildew issue in our basement. Every single surface, every nook, every cranny needed cleaning. Everything.

I was reminded of the song Let My Life Be Worship while scrubbing on hands and knees. And when I need to change yet another diaper, and the dishes seem daunting, let my life be worship. Let my heart remain steadfast, holding onto the gratitude of simple days spent with the people I love.

When you think back on your favorite memories as a child growing up, what are they? Are they moments of extravagance? Big trips? Long-awaited events? Or are they moments carved into memory through simplicity and family sacredness?

The ones that pop up for me fall into the simple category. I think most of us can say that. It’s a good reminder as we aim to provide our children with beautiful memories. We can forget that what’s really memorable isn’t usually grand, it’s the modest enjoyment of togetherness.

Here are a few ideas to curate some simple, special moments with your family this winter:

two kids smiling

Gather around the table for a family puzzle. Or better yet, set up a table where you can leave said puzzle for a few days and come back to it periodically as you work together to complete it.

Choose a read-aloud for cozy evenings. We are featuring a family read-aloud in this issue that would be a great one for this! There’s something so special about enjoying a story together with the whole family.

Do a game night! Choose a couple games and make it a marathon along with your favorite snacks and treats.

Go old-school. Make sure all devices are turned off and stored away. Have a favorite family meal and eat by candlelight imagining what it would be like to live in times gone by.

Sit on the porch. Have some hot chocolate or hot apple cider (with marshmallows or whipped cream!) on the porch as you’re covered in blankets.

Take a drive together. You can do this during the Christmas season when lights abound, or just for a change of scenery when you feel cooped up. Pick an audio to listen to as you ride and go down the backstreets and neighborhoods where you can go slow.

Movie night. To make this an extra special event, have some theater candy and popcorn on hand. For intermission, an evening or night walk is always fun.

kid looking down at table

Whatever you do, just remember, your kids will be more excited about spending this time with you than they will be about the “what” you’re doing. It just takes a couple extra steps to add in that sense of specialness. Don’t overcomplicate things or overwhelm yourself. Instead, pick a couple things that work into your life and then relax enough to enjoy them. I know that can sometimes be the hard part for us mommas. We want everything to be perfect and we allow that desire to detract from the imperfect, yet still wonderful, memories being made. So yes, you will have spills, the hot chocolate might get burned, sibling fights will continue, but somehow, it all adds up to be this beautiful real life we get to live.

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shley Wiggers grew up in the early days of the homeschooling movement. She was taught by her late mother, Debbie Strayer, who was an educator, speaker, and the author of numerous homeschooling materials. It was through Debbie’s encouragement and love that Ashley learned the value of being homeschooled. Currently, Ashley is the co-executive editor of Homeschooling Today magazine, public relations director for Geography Matters, and the author of the Profiles from History series. Ashley makes her home in Lutz, FL, with her supportive father, Greg, her loving husband, Alex, their precious sons, Lincoln and Jackson, along with their newest blessing, baby Ruby.