My Kids Missed the Eclipse. Will They Be OK?

A major, once-in-a-lifetime event just happened. A nearly total eclipse came to our state. And my kids missed it. Homeschool mom fail?

Life around our house has been interesting recently. No lack of learning happening here. Six days ago, our eighth baby was born.

The kids and I have been talking about this for months. They know quite a bit about the development of babies in the womb and the anatomy of birth. My oldest daughter wanted to be at the birth, and so she attended all of my prenatal visits with my midwife and even my prenatal chiropractic appointments. She asked excellent questions.

The children were getting up and having breakfast as my labor was getting stronger. They got to see Mama working through some contractions. They asked excellent questions as well.

A major, once-in-a-lifetime event just happened. A nearly total eclipse came to our state. And my kids missed it. Homeschool mom fail?

My oldest daughter helped to set up the birth area and was present for every moment of labor, delivery, and postpartum care. She cried with delight and wonder as she watched her brother entering the world. Our midwife gave her a thorough lesson on the parts and functions of the placenta, which we got on video so that the other kids could learn as well.

And of course, everyone, including the 2-year-old, has spent a lot of time holding, snuggling, and enjoying the baby.

A major, once-in-a-lifetime event just happened. A nearly total eclipse came to our state. And my kids missed it. Homeschool mom fail?

But my kids virtually missed the eclipse yesterday.

We live in Virginia in an area that saw about 90% totality. We didn’t hop in a car and go anywhere. No special glasses. No cereal boxes with tiny holes.

A major, once-in-a-lifetime event just happened. A nearly total eclipse came to our state. And my kids missed it. Homeschool mom fail?Photo courtesy of Melissa @ Soaring Arrows

We didn’t even know about looking for the crescent-shaped flickers of light coming through tree leaves. There weren’t any printables, YouTube pre-lessons, craft projects, songs or themed meals.

A major, once-in-a-lifetime event just happened. A nearly total eclipse came to our state. And my kids missed it. Homeschool mom fail?Photo courtesy of Melissa @ Soaring Arrows

They were outside riding their scooters and they noticed it got a little darker, the shadows dulled, and it felt slightly cooler. It wasn’t a life-changing experience for them. It wasn’t the stuff family memories are made of. And they may not ever get a chance to experience another eclipse in their lives.

A major, once-in-a-lifetime event just happened. A nearly total eclipse came to our state. And my kids missed it. Homeschool mom fail?Photo courtesy of Ryan Westcott

Homeschool mom fail?

I know, I know. My kids will be fine. I shouldn’t feel guilty about this. We’re thinking long-term here. I have a history of difficulty postpartum, so we’ve known for a long time that the best plan is for me to stay in bed and rest as much as possible during the two weeks my husband stays home.

I don’t even go downstairs the first week. So if anything eclipse-related was going to happen, it was going to have to be Daddy’s thing. And, seeing as he’s already being a super-human by taking over the entire running of the household (including caring for me!) I certainly wasn’t going to add one more thing to his plate.

I think he chatted with them a bit about the eclipse. And he made sure they were safe. I know we did what was right for our family for this time, for this season. And yet, why does this tug at my heart strings so much?

The Concentration of Eclipse Awe

Let’s face it: an eclipse is a pretty cool thing. It’s an amazing and rare event. And it’s an awesome learning opportunity! I’m so thrilled for the number of people who got to enjoy and experience it with their kids. My heart is excited with and for them!

A major, once-in-a-lifetime event just happened. A nearly total eclipse came to our state. And my kids missed it. Homeschool mom fail?Photo courtesy of Mary @ Not Before 7

And of course, with so much fun and awe, it makes sense that they’d want to share those pictures on social media. I’m glad they did, because now I’ve got some great stuff to enjoy and to share with my kids as well!

A major, once-in-a-lifetime event just happened. A nearly total eclipse came to our state. And my kids missed it. Homeschool mom fail?Photo courtesy of Ryan Westcott

But here’s the truth. There are thousands upon thousands of amazing educational experiences my kids will never have. They’ll probably never raise farm animals. We’re not the family business type. We won’t be touring as a family performance group. And we’re probably not going to become hard core political activists any time soon.

So why does this one thing feel like such a loss? Like such a mom-fail? I think it’s because of the high-intensity concentration, all on one day, all about one event. Of all the other things I (think I) could/would/should be doing for my kids, none of them are shared in floods all at one time.

Missing the Good

I mean, think about it: nobody is posting “We didn’t see the eclipse” pictures. Or, rather, they are – they’re posting pics of regular family life – but my brain doesn’t classify them like that.

It’s so easy to see what we don’t have, didn’t do or aren’t as a family. And it’s so easy to miss what is, and what we do have. As I reflected on it for the intro to this post, I realized that my kids are having an amazing learning experience with the arrival of a new sibling.

A major, once-in-a-lifetime event just happened. A nearly total eclipse came to our state. And my kids missed it. Homeschool mom fail?

But I don’t naturally categorize it that way, because, well, we didn’t exactly decide to have another baby as an “educational opportunity”. Seriously, that’s not nearly enough of a reason for all that we’ve been through and all that is to come!

Regular is Pretty Awesome

And that’s just how it is with most of homeschool life. The most awesome, enriching, and educational things you’re doing with your children are the things that happen naturally, organically as a part of the regular culture and personality of your family.

They don’t seem amazing because they feel so, well, normal. But it’s exactly that normality, that comfort zone, that make them so effective and impactful. Your kids will absorb so much of the things that happen as a part of “regular” because they fit so well with family life. Our brains retain more of the things that have lots of context to connect them to other memories and ideas.

A major, once-in-a-lifetime event just happened. A nearly total eclipse came to our state. And my kids missed it. Homeschool mom fail?Photo courtesy of Mary @ Not Before 7

Of course, wonderful, unique, once-in-a-lifetime experiences are great, too! My friend Mary wrote a lovely post on realistic expectations for making big family memories. Definitely worth reading. But we all know that for even the most energetic of us, those big-bang moments are few and far between. In the middle is a lot of really wonderful normal, just waiting to be appreciated for the blessing that it is!

16 Replies to “My Kids Missed the Eclipse. Will They Be OK?”

  1. Eh…they’ll be fine, mama. Virginia will be in the 80-90% zone for the 2024 eclipse. 🙂

    1. It’s so funny – I talked to my son about the next eclipse and maybe driving somewhere to be in the zone of totality. He seemed unimpressed. He said “If we’re going to drive all that way, I sure hope it’s for something more than 10 minutes of looking at an eclipse.” Haha. I guess they aren’t scarred. 😉

  2. ROBIN GUERTIN says: Reply

    I’m a bit of a science geek so I definitely had some things planned. Of course, life being as it is I couldn’t do all of them because I’m on crutches right now, but we did some of them now and more after my knee heals. I had my 15 y/o make up a batch of sugar cookies & frosting, and color some sugar yellow and some orange. We then made Surface of the Sun Cookies, complete with the granular surface (colored sugar) sun spots (mini M & M’s) and prominences (licorice loops), an idea I found online. We had our special glasses, made a viewing box, kept a detailed account of the changes in the appearance of the sun, the temperature and animal noises every 10 minutes for 2 hours. We had read a lot about eclipses prior to the day. One of my daughters and one of my sons completed work to earn their Girl & Boy Scout Eclipse patches. Plus my son also earned National Parks Junior Ranger Eclipse Explorer Badge.
    Your kids will survive, and there is another eclipse in 7 years. Don’t beat yourself up, enjoy your children and the rest of your pregnancy.

    1. Oh, my favorite idea here is the record keeping of temperature, animal noises, etc. Yes, I would have loved to do something like that. But you’re right – no point beating myself up!

  3. Congratulations on the newest addition to your family. I completely agree with you here because…pssst…my kids missed the eclipse, too!
    Shelly recently posted…10 Things You Need to Avoid for a Better HomeschoolMy Profile

    1. Good to know I’m not alone! Thanks, Shelly. 🙂

  4. Hey, baby time beats eclipse watching, hands down! We missed it too, and we don’t have a brand new baby to cuddle as an excuse! It was all a bit too overwhelming for me, and do I have regrets? Yes, but as you stated, they can’t all be big-bang moments. Take care of you and yours!!

    1. Thanks so much, Pam! And yes, it did get kind of overwhelming, didn’t it?

  5. Congratulations on your new baby! Hooray!!

  6. Thank you so much for sharing this! I grew up as the oldest in a big family and my husband and I have two children I worry all the time about that impacting them negatively or what they are missing out on. We did make a trip to visit the eclipse, driving nine hours one way to see totality. And my kids were much less impressed than I thought they’d be. I patted myself on the back for making it happen, but today I still wonder if we’re missing out on other things. Your perspective is appreciated and your honesty is encouraging! Congratulations on your newest addition.

    1. Beth, I completely understand! The truth of the matter is … our kids ARE missing out on things. I mean, honestly, nobody can be it all, do it all, have it all, right? The most important thing is to be intentional about what we do, and to be thankful for it, too!

  7. I read this article and all I want to know is the birth story. New baby eclipses eclipse- most definitely. We are having our 8th and I am also wondering about my oldest daughter being present. How lovely!!!

    1. Oh, how exciting! Congratulations! Faith, in retrospect, I was so thankful we made the choice we made – to include our oldest daughter and only her. She was ready and it was really a blessing to have her there. I’m not sure I was ready for having multiple siblings present – I think that would have been a very different dynamic. We took lots of video, though, so that the other kids could get at least some of the experience of “being there”.

  8. Hi Lynna, although your kids missed eclipse, I can see that there is no regret for them. Because a new baby has come, which is a more wonderful thing! Your children are so cute that you should feel happy not regretful for the eclipse thing. Thanks for sharing your story and keep up the good work!

    1. Thanks, Jean. I agree – the kids aren’t sad, so there’s no reason I should be!

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