Let’s be honest. I’m not sure about this whole homeschooling thing. It’s a daily battle of fear vs. faith.
Yeah, I'll post the highlights. Those are super great. But, they are just the highlights and not the day to day. It takes a lot to get to those worthwhile picture-worthy moments.
But there is a lot happening in the middle. It doesn’t look like sunshine and rainbows; it looks more like clouds and gloom.
I have three unique human beings that I am shepherding into the world. They don’t always like me or each other. And we are together A LOT.
When I plan for us to go somewhere or do something, at least one little human will fight with me at every turn. Whether I say let’s go to the library, let’s read a book, or let’s go bowling, it is generally met with whining from at least one. And that whining is getting louder.
But then, we go. We read the book, bowl the lanes, wander the library. And it’s fine. Great a lot of times.
They find chess to play at the library. We stay extra long because they want to play a tournament with each other.
We bowl a few more games of bowling because we are hitting a lot of strikes.
We read one more chapter because we just have to know.
But getting to these moments is painful. The amount of times I have to repeat myself, pray to God in my head to not lose my shit (again), and look calm on the outside when all I’m feeling is crazy on the inside is immeasurable.
But I keep pushing.
Or dragging. Or pulling.
I want the perfect, beautiful end result; the grand feeling of accomplishment and pride. But there is none of that until the end. And I am playing the long game here. Homeschooling is anything but glamorous. Our middle is hard, messy, and yucky. And no one posts that.
The end is what keeps me going. The visualization that all of this is worth it. In how many ever years it takes us, that I know my three boys and they know themselves. That they are connected to the Divine God and are following a purpose. That they are kind, unique, authentic, and genuine. That they are living a life they choose and not one they are forced to take.
But that’s the LOOOOONG game. And I’m currently focused on the middle.
That’s why school can look WAY more appealing some days. It would be so much easier for the day-to-day. Unfortunately, this is not what God has laid on my heart.
Yet…school continues to creep back in and persist. This is coming through our oldest child right now.
He has been begging to go to school. (Side note: if you want your kid to love school, try taking them out! He certainly didn’t beg to go when we were actually enrolled! 😉)
We allowed him to attend one class last year (PE) and he made a couple of great friends and connections. (Extra side note: he LOVED it. Couldn’t comprehend why everyone else hated it. I reminded him he was there for 90 minutes in his ultimate favorite part: physical activity.) Next year, he signed up for two: business and band.
I see this as the best compromise. I am still fulfilling what I believe we need to do and he gets to continue to make connections while experiencing the structure of a traditional system.
He sees it as me holding him back from something.
And I am.
I’m holding things back from him.
Things like sitting at a desk all day to follow a curriculum that doesn’t fit, being told what to do and how to do it, feeling pressure to follow the crowd and be like everyone else.
He is already a pretty good follower. I want him to just be himself.
And that is in jeopardy when he is bombarded with implicit messages that he is not okay just the way he is. These messages come through grades, friends, enemies, looks, snarky and sarcastic comments from kids and adults. I want him to spend time figuring out who he truly is and who he wants to be so none of that will phase him.
He cannot do that if he is busy with eight hours of school.
Trust me. This isn’t an easy decision. Josh and I go through it…over and over…here are some of the statements that come up in our conversations and why I feel this path is hard but right for us:
We went to school and we are fine.
But are we? I’m pretty sure I am screwed up from it. I went through twelve years of conditioning (more like twenty if I count postgraduate work). Twenty. I became one of the best rule followers, completely unaware that I might be able to think for myself (even though I believed I was thinking for myself. School is that good at what it does!) I identified as a good student, a leader, and a nice person. Eventually, these shallow identities were not enough. I had to figure out who I truly was and remove myself to hear who God made me to be. It’s been difficult, pain-staking work, years in the making. It’s worth it to find my core beliefs again and really live them out. I want my kids to have this chance from the beginning: to experience freedom and faith throughout their lives.
Everyone else’s kids go to school and they are fine.
Maybe. But maybe not. And is fine good enough? I want more. I want our children to love themselves, live curiously, and have adventures each day. If I can do that, I’m going to try. Homeschool gives us this chance.
The trauma from mean teachers/kids made us stronger.
We all have a story. There was that one teacher/kid (or many) who was/were awful to us. I have my story and I’m sure you have one too. Did my ‘one teacher’ make me stronger? No. He killed my spirit. He almost made me believe girls were not as good as boys. My mom ensured that this belief was wrong. We talked almost daily that year about all the horrors of that classroom. If I can keep them from this, I will. I can also discuss at length anything that does occur because we have the gift of time.
School is not that bad.
Only when we don’t look too deeply. If we start to look and question, we see that it is.
There are some really beautiful things that come out of school.
There are. But these are in spite of school, not because of it. Or we look back on our own experiences and see and feel the nostalgia of it. The homecoming game, the extra-curriculars, prom, sporting events with friends. I feel sad our own kids won’t have these same memories. But maybe they will have something more: a true sense of self, identity, and purpose.
What about the long term? What if he misses something and can’t catch up? (Josh’s fear; not mine.)
This is a hard one because it is real to so many people. My only way to talk about it is to ask you what you truly remember about any of your classes. Do you remember those science and history facts? You probably remember your math facts (I do). If Bray doesn’t learn something, why can’t he learn it when he needs it? Don’t teachers have jobs to teach this information? I choose to have faith that if and when he chooses to enter a traditional classroom, we will figure it out. He knows how to learn and what a better learning experience he will have when he has a purpose to learn it rather than forcing it now because we fear he may need it one day.
It’s the harder choice to stay out of traditional school. It requires faith and an active choosing of faith over fear.
I can’t be certain he won’t wear me down. He’s persistent just like his mama. I get tired of repeating and justifying why I am choosing this for him.
But, right now I feel convinced this is the right path for us.
I still don’t think I chose it; it chose me.
I KNOW I didn't want it. Anybody remember me from five years ago? Ten? I’m not even the same person!!
But here I am.
Learning to listen and obey.
It’s truly His plan and not mine.
I’m going to stay with one foot in “this is great” and the other foot in “what the hell was I thinking” because it’s the middle stage of life. My gut tells me this is right, but the world asks me why I am working so hard if I don’t have to. I don’t have the answer yet. But I know it will come in hindsight. It always does. The end brings clarity, but the middle is where all the mess gets sorted out and tangled up again.
I do not want our homeschool journey to end. Leaving school had to be part of my life; I can see that now. But school will forever be part of our story.
So you can watch our highlights but know it took A LOT to get that one moment. The homeschool journey is not for the faint of heart and I think that is why it has taken me this long to get here. God was readying my heart. Eventually, I had to leap because the conflict in me was too much.
My doubts about homeschool will probably always be at the back of my mind. I turn the fear over to faith through prayer. The middle is fearful, but the ending is faith-filled.