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My porch has seen better days. The poor deck faces harsh, hard winters that come with heavy snow and thick ice, which must be shoveled off many times over the course the season. My dear porch gets relentlessly stomped on by muddy boots and handles dirty dog paws. With many hours of care, we could restore the porch. Most of the places just need some TLC. However, there are a few boards that are just tired. The rot can be seen as huge splinters seem to rise to the surface. Some of us have been the sad recipients of slivers of wood stuck into the bottoms of our feet.

While I stared off into the distance over my ramshackle porch recently, I thought of myself, my kids and just people in general that sometimes need a little extra TLC to get into pristine working order. Sometimes we need a little more patience or attention to get over the rough spots in either our day or season of life. If an adult with a fully developed frontal lobe can have inexplicably hard days, then we should all assume that children will also have a bad “case of the Monday’s” occasionally. They are in the middle of growing leaps and bounds, packing their minds full of wonderful facts and skills, and stretching their wings with new responsibilities (whether that is trust in playing in the backyard unattended or driving lessons).  

It’s going to take a lot of work to restore this porch to the best it can get. Much like the work it feels like it takes for us to get back into pristine, working order. We wonder if someone will stick around long enough to chip away the big splinters, sand off the large chunks of decade old porch paint, and scrub the green algae that has made this space its home. Parenting and caring for children is not for the faint of heart. Reviving my porch for one more life cycle won’t be a cake walk, for sure. But, these people we know and love are certainly worth the effort.

Do you feel a little ramshackle sometimes? I know I do on those morning we forgot to resupply the coffee, when the kids wake up grumpy, when schoolwork takes more out of you than expected, or when life just plain stinks. What are habits you’ve found helpful to care for the splintery people in your life?

Lindsay Banton is a caffeinated mother to three great kids. She never expected to homeschool, but has found that it is a wonderful addition to their lifestyle and wouldn’t change it for the world. In addition to homeschooling, Lindsay works alongside her husband in campus ministry at a large university in Connecticut. She grew up in Virginia but has settled into life in New England, learning to love the long winters, cool springs, green summers and gorgeous autumns- and has built a boot collection to meet all the demands. She is currently blogging at www.lindsaybanton.com.