I received an email from “Anonymous” tonight. She writes:
“I am not sure I want to be a parent some days, much less homeschool. I am very confused…after talking to one mom I want to homeschool, then after talking to one mom I want to do public school again. I am trying to teach my kids using Abeka, but I got very far behind and now am overwhelmed at how much they have missed. I think they are too far behind to be put into public school. I feel horrible that my 5 year old is missing kindergarten and making regular friends. We belong to a church group that meets on Thursdays. It isn’t the same as everyday friends. I am at the end of my rope. Confused, not knowing the right thing to do. I have been praying but don’t see an answer.”
You know, sometimes, I wish there was a giant coffee shop where we could all meet once a week. Because if we could meet once a week, I think we would discover that our struggles are very similar. Even though we live in different circumstances and have unique families, our struggles are common struggles.
Motherhood is challenging. Homeschooling adds a new level to that challenge. I’d love to tell you that there are “5 Easy Steps” to homeschooling or “5 Ways to KNOW” you’ve made the right decision, but there aren’t. However, I can tell you a few things that the Lord has been patiently teaching me over 22 years of parenting. Here are a few of them:
—My family does NOT have to look like ANYONE ELSE’S family. Period. Not in curriculum. Not in parenting. Not in style of dress. Not in the way we eat. We were a unique family. This realization has brought me much freedom—and it is a constant reminder to me of the need I have to be on my knees before the Lord in prayer.
It’s a daily surrender. Sometimes, I must wait for an answer. It rarely comes quickly.
—Whenever I feel “horrible” about a social situation (for example, I might wonder about my children missing out on ‘regular’ school or missing out on a movie that another of their peers was allowed to watch), then it is a sure sign that I am being motivated by guilt rather than being led by the Spirit.
Yes, we need to change our minds sometimes. But more often than not, this “mommy guilt” is simply unnecessary emotional tyranny. Whenever I am not nourishing my spirit, I open myself up it. Busy mom, give yourself time to think and pray when you feel this tug. Often, a conversation with your husband and time with the Lord will give you the peace you are seeking.
—Curriculum can be a terrible task-master. By this, I mean that if our curriculum is pushing us so hard that we can’t enjoy the learning process, it’s probably time to find another curriculum, or seek to modify the one we are using. Some moms flourish under curricula like the one you mention. Others have found that a different approach suits them better. Be open to a new approach.
Remember, you’re never as “far behind” as you think you are. Breathe. Your worst day of teaching at home is likely better than you judge it to be. Your investment will go farther than you think it will. It will have an impact for eternity. So slow down. Build relationships with your children, especially while they are young. It is foundational to who they are going to become.
—Homeschooling should not make you an island. Find a homeschool co-op or support group. If your church does not have a support system for you, consider finding one that does. We NEED each other. Period. Find your people.
—The growing years are short. Five-year-olds need their mom more than they need a social network. I’m not suggesting that they don’t need friends; far from it! Rather, I’m suggesting that YOU need friends, too. Find moms who have children of similar ages. Plan play dates and go to the library and zoo together. This will give you and your child a social outlet.
Finally, plant with the harvest in mind. What do you want to see in your adult children? I know it’s hard to imagine at this stage, but in just a few short years, if you persevere, you will be encouraging a mom who is where you are right now.
I know. I was that mom.
The best homeschooling advice I ever received from another mom had very little to do with an action. It was about an attitude. She encouraged me to be confident in who God has called me to be.
So let me encourage you: Be real. Love your kids. Teach them. Be flexible. Be honest. Find support. Trust that the results of the investment you are making will be worth the sacrifice. And then, commit yourself to becoming the wife and mother you were created to be.
Be encouraged! You can do it. You’ve already been equipped.
In Psalm 16, verse 8, David writes, “I have set the LORD always before me. Because he is at my right hand, I will not be shaken.”
This is the key. If you know that God has called you to homeschool your children, then He has already equipped you for the job. Don’t be shaken. Keep trusting. You’re His, and He’ll never let you go.