I’m not built for this.
Homeschooling is never something I thought I would do. NEVER. Ever. Like, so many never-evers; I cannot say it enough.
I grew up with two working parents. They are wonderful, honest, hard-working people. They love me dearly and did everything in my best interest. I saw the model of two working parents and didn’t give any thought to a different way. I assumed I would follow this same model for my family life.
And I did. For a long time.
Until I had a stirring that I wasn’t supposed to do this anymore.
I am the product of the public school system; a traditional system I believed was best for everyone. I did just fine following rules, fearful to break them. At school, I was compliant to a fault, never questioning authority. I was quick to accept that my teachers knew better than me and it was my job to follow. My boys wrote a different story with school.
My kids were struggling within the system of school. They were busy boys, ready for the next adventure. They were not ready to sit and listen for hours every day. Our days were busy but filled with nothing of importance. We awoke, hurried to a place where no one really knew my children, left them there for 10+ hours where they were seen as things to absorb information or things to be changed into something specific. I started to become aware of this and it made me uncomfortable. I didn’t like the way they were acting, and I certainly did not like the parent I was becoming: controlling and authoritative.
Our lives were a flurry of running to school, working my job, picking up, rushing to get supper on the table in order to get to bed at a decent time so my husband and I could connect before we had to wake and do it all over again. I didn’t think much about it when I was in it. Only now years later can I see my life more clearly. School, work, rushing around was just what everyone around me was doing so I did it too.
And I thought there was no choice.
Until I started to think there might be one.
Once I opened my mind to the thought of having a choice, possibly choosing a different path, it was glued in my brain. It was the scariest thought I ever had. It was terrifying to consider an unknown path. The thought that I might not have to do what everyone else was doing was freeing. But then, what would I do?
I was swimming along in my life just fine, then all of a sudden without any warning, I realized I was on the wrong path. I was changing and my environment refused to change with me no matter how much I wanted school to adapt and change with me. It was like drowning and the only thing that could give me air would be if I chose to swim in the ocean rather than the river. I needed a change of environment and only I could give that to me, to us, to my family.
I was the one that was going to have to do this. I was going to leave my beautiful flowing river, filled with known twists and turns, sandbars, and fresh fish; the current and my life moving along at a steady pace. But it was suddenly too small, and I no longer belonged in it. Like I had grown too big, I knew too much to stay in my river. I had to get out fast.
So I did.
It wasn’t fast. It took over two years to intentionally plan to leave the school system. And even when I did, it was very different from how I planned it.
I thought I prepared myself well enough. Thought I knew what the ocean would be like, thought I knew what I was getting into. It looked beautiful standing on the beach: clear, blue, sparkling, holding a promise of hope with its newness. Only to discover there were new obstacles I had not even considered.
I did not know my children would be resistant to leaving the river too. The river was maybe right for them and I did not think that through.
I could not foresee the family hardship that was on the horizon just two months after beginning our homeschool journey. My calm, clear ocean now contained treacherous and turbulent waves, mucking the waters quickly. Our house caught fire while we were gone. This left us living in a hotel and rental house for our first year of homeschool. That fire set off a whole new journey for our family which we are experiencing now.
I did not predict how very difficult it would be to deschool not only myself but also my children. Changing bodies of water may not be enough. It is necessary to remind myself every day to just live and experience life together. I don't have to do anything that looks like school; I should not replicate school at home. If I did not like what school was doing to my boys, I need to discover other options. This is hard and requires awareness every day.
After one year of homeschooling, we encounter a new change of seasons and events and find new challenges along the way.
What I am discovering is that there isn’t really an easier path in life…school vs. homeschool, working vs. being home.
Just that we can choose our path. They are equally hard. But it was important for me to realize I had a choice, and I could live a life that is unconventional in our culture.
For me, my kids were getting the worst of me while other people’s children got my best. I was calm and steady at my job while tired and emotional at home. I rarely had the energy to do much with them. I wanted to give my family my best, but it just wasn’t possible when I spent so much of my energy elsewhere. After I opened my mind to the idea that I could be the best for them, I knew the change was on the horizon.
Homeschooling is hard. But it was also hard to live in our flurry and scurry of a life.
I spend my days fully immersed with them. It isn’t easy to be with them all the time. I make a lot of mistakes in dealing with them. I still long to be with adults and inspire others but I know this season of life is short-lived. Each season is. I cannot homeschool them forever.
I know I feel most productive when we can work on academic work first and then I can let them have free time while I work on my own business. This fills my own cup.
The hardest part is not the actual teaching of skills, it’s trying to get them to engage in academic work and find things that they think are fun (which I often do not think are fun.) It’s a constant give and take, compromise, and conversation of what is enough. Math today and writing tomorrow or all of it today so we can take an adventure the next day.
It’s hard to be around your kids all the time. It’s also hard to be away from them all the time. But for me, it's easier to trust that others know better than me and can do better than me when it comes to my kids.
I have believed for a long time that I was not made for this. God made a mistake in asking me to homeschool my children. And this belief creeps in on my really tough days. But then I remember he doesn’t make mistakes. I heard Him correctly. He would not have led me all this way to abandon me. He is changing me and showing me I can do this. It is only with Him and through Him that I can.
I have chosen the word ‘Grace’ for 2024 because I need to give myself and my children more of it. Grace can bring us calm and peace into this homeschooling life I was not ready for but maybe am changing enough to figure it all out.
I may not be built for it but God built me and He is enough.