Here’s a newsflash: Homeschooling is not a perfect system. Duh, right? We’re all broken people, affected by the fall and consequences of sin and all that. Yes, most of us believe that somewhere inside us, but as a homeschooler, I think I have to be on the defensive all the time. It could very well just be my own insecurity, but I’m always afraid that if I come here and say what a stink job I did today with my kids, chances are good someone is going to suggest I give it up. And if they don’t suggest it outright, they will think it. And so I believe I have to clean up my homeschooling persona before I can invite guests over to see it – put on my best face, my best attitude, give my best stories, so that home education looks like a perfect system. And doing that does a disservice to everyone, for it makes me dishonest with myself and with you.
Homeschooling is hard. And there are days I am ready to give it up altogether. And that’s what I don’t feel the freedom to share here very often.
Here’s the other thing, though. Most of the things we’ve been called to in life, most of the things we believe with all our hearts God has led us in, most of these things are hard. That doesn’t make them bad. It doesn’t make them non-important. It doesn’t give us an excuse to give up and choose another way simply because it is easier. Living on support for 12 years? Hard. Moving across the country to begin seminary? Hard. Sticking it out in a church situation you gave up on in your heart four months prior? Hard. Home educating four girls who are separated in age by less than 5 years between the oldest and youngest? Hard!
Certainly we have the freedom to choose another way. We’ve always said we would take this thing one year at a time; reevaluate our school decision each year, and according to each kid. From Craig’s point of view, this freedom was really the freedom to continue on with homeschooling until we felt led to change. From my point of view, I felt like I was on trial every year, having to prove to myself, to my kids, to Craig that this was a good thing for us. The allowance of knowing we could or would change course from year to year was a burning match for me this year waiting to light any spark that would ignite from personal conflict in our family and because of our schooling situation. The wiggle room this freedom allowed had me on constant edge, never really knowing what we’d do for the long haul, never resting in our calling.
A couple of weeks ago, Craig and I outlined what we saw to be the pros and cons of all the scenarios. When it was all said and done (and it took a lot of time and a lot of tears), we concluded that for our family the best decision was to continue homeschooling full time through sixth grade and then enroll the girls in Craig’s school as seventh graders. Now, this decision could change by the time Maddie becomes a seventh grader, depending upon where we are, if Craig is still at the school he is at now, if we think Maddie and the school will be a good match, etc. But for now, I know I have three more years with her at home. And four more with Chloe. And six more with Katie. And eight more with Millie. We have a plan. A plan that goes beyond just making it through until May and then deciding again for the next year. And the very nature of having this plan has helped me to relax in my calling to homeschool the girls as well as to more fully embrace it. And this is a good thing, because where previously a major conflict with one of the girls would have sent me straight to the school district’s website scouring for information on all the 3rd and 4th grade teachers, now I realize our decision isn’t going to waver just because we had a particularly poor relating experience one afternoon. I know we will push through it and persevere with one another and for one another. And I’m glad for that.
So that’s that. To borrow a phrase from a friend, I think I’ve been afraid of being pigeon-holed as a “typical” homeschooler. I’ve never really felt like I fit in anywhere with our year-to-year reevaluation of our situation. But now I think it’s time to fully identify myself with what I’ve been called to do. I’m a homeschooling mom. I’m happy to identify myself as such.