1. a division or subdivision of the stem or axis of a tree, shrub, or other plant.
I found a spot I liked for breakfast at my retreat last weekend. The dining room had lots of windows with lovely views, but I liked a little table where I could sit at an angle, prop my feet up and look out. On Sunday morning, I spied a tree with a most unusual branch - it was shaped like a question mark. (I realized as I pulled into the monastery gates that I left my camera at home, so you'll have to make do with word pictures of this tree instead of actual pictures.)
This branch had clearly started its journey growing west, for it continued up in that direction for several years before it apparently decided it was more suited to the east's morning sun. At which point, it began to change course, arcing gently but gracefully in the exact opposite direction from where it started. I love this.
I love the way it looks, for one thing. It stands out from the other branches that are doing the expected thing and growing where they are placed. But I also love that this branch doesn't change where the tree itself is pointing. The branch may be confused about where it should go, how it should grow - or not - maybe this branch is meant to be different to call our attention. Regardless, the tree still ends up exactly where it should be, going where it should go.
I think this is a good metaphor for me in parenting. I can see tendencies in A to perhaps take some paths I wish I had bypassed myself. But I think even my detours won't keep me from being who I was made to be, nor will A's. This is especially important to remember as a parent because I have no idea where life will take her. If I charted A's course, I would likely get her so far off course she would need a navigator to get her back to the right hemisphere. I'm her mother, not her master planner.
I hope to remember this as I visit middle schools, check boxes on a form and wait to hear about A and B's school options for next year. Left to make the decision myself, I would home school them both next year. But we are merely twelve weeks into the school year. Who knows how I'll feel by March or April? It's not that it's been terribly easy, this home schooling thing. On the contrary, I am finding out how little I know about fifth graders in general. I'm finding out how little I understand about what motivates A specifically. But she is learning and I am, too.
So I'm going to resist the urge to master plan for next year, the year after and the next six years of A's schooling. I'm going to resist the urge to prune choices before I know whether they will bear fruit. Instead, I want to be thankful for the branch that homeschooling is on our trees, no matter its length or ultimate direction.