Grace For The Homeschool Mom

I’m a homeschooling mom of nearly 20 years and I’m weary.

This post is to help you, the weary, burnt-out homeschooing mom, embrace a word that we seem to ignore: enough.

Homeschooling moms have many wonderful qualities to be sure, but I’m not sure that giving ourselves grace is one of them.

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School is never enough. We always do more, expect more, try more. Homeschooling marketers KNOW this and feed this insecurity in all of us: buy this, do this, try this, don’t miss this! And buy it we do.

We keenly feel our own under-qualifications for this monumental job and so we try to overcompensate. In the end we burn ourselves out, scare away other would-be homeschooling moms, and discourage fellow homeschooling moms at the very meetings that were started for our support.

I’m just gonna say it:

I don’t want to attend another homeschooling conference.

I toss out homeschooling catalogs that come in the mail without so much as a flip through them

I really, really don’t want another tutorial on making Valentines sculptures with plaster of paris or a how-to guide on building a rope course.

Please don’t send me that link to that amazing lap-book website you were telling me about. {I die a little inside when I realize that moms out there do all THAT in a typical homeschooling day.}

Grace is what I need right now. Grace with myself that affirms, “Sarah, you are doing enough. God will fill in what lacks.”

There comes a season when you really step back and assess your current course. You ask the hard questions like:

  • What exactly is an education?
  • How do children learn?
  • What do MY children need to learn?
  • What strengths can I encourage in each child? What weaknesses need work?
  • Have I allowed comparison to steal my joy and drive us all a little neurotic?
  • Have I forgotten that I DO, I WILL, and I ALWAYS WILL HAVE limitations? {So does every other teacher in America! Not to mention the limitations of the kids.}

I need to recall why we started doing this in the first place:

  • I want time with my kids.
  • I want to teach them our family values, and about our God on a day in and day out basis.
  • I want them to be avid readers.
  • I want them to love learning and pursue it life-long.
  • I highly value family time and flexibility.
  • I want them to have time to pursue the interests they love.
  • We want to travel.

When I step back I realize that my list is quite short,

but my self-made daily to-do list is oh, so long, burdensome and unnecessarily complicated. 

So, I’m saying no. I’m calling good enough enough.

I’m growing whole-hearted children over here and that takes inspiration and creativity and time. It means saying no to a million good things in order to make way for what we value most.

I don’t just want them to read a snippet in a text book, answer 10 questions for a test, and believe they are educated on a topic. We’re going to read living books (Books that inspire and are written by an author with uncommon knowledge and a passion for that subject.) on a variety of topics and enjoy the read. We’re going to discuss, debate, and digest the material.

I want them to empathize and feel deeply the sorrow of those who have suffered injustice in their history readings and biographies and rejoice with those who discovered cures for once life-threatening diseases, or stood up against the wrongs of society with uncommon bravery. I want them to feel the energy of the symphony orchestra and experience the joy of preparing a nutritious meal to present as a gift to your loved ones. I want them to remember that hearts are tied together around the candle-lit dinner table over simple things like spaghetti and garlicky bread.

I want them to enjoy famous composers, artists, poetry and try our hand at our own.

And while Pre-calculus is a necessary evil of high school life and requires a textbook, we’re not going to let textbooks rule our education.

We’ll discuss and hash out politics, theology and different ideas around our dinner table.

We’ll visit museums, concerts and libraries and take advantage of the rich History we enjoy in the New England area.

And when mom can’t remember what an independent clause is or the difference between mitosis and meiosis, we’ll all sit and watch Kahn Academy. Or we’ll  learn via the History and Discovery Channel.

We’ll embrace quiet times alone with our thoughts.

We’ll cultivate creativity, by picking up hobbies like knitting or crocheting.

We’ll do what we can and breathe. We’ll be happy and call it a day.

We’re no longer calling it school, but instead real life. And it is enough.

Are you burnt out? Take some time to invest in yourself, too. You can’t always give. You need little snatches of time to take in.  It might be a walk through a beautiful shop, buying some flowers, arranging some furniture in a creative way, reading a book, painting, sketching, walking or talking with a friend. There’s nothing noble about running yourself ragged into the ground.  Do what it takes to get yourself in a good place where you are ready to jump in, serving your family with a renewed outlook. :)

 

 

15 comments

  1. I love this post ….like cold water to a thirsty soul. Thanks!

  2. Sara says:

    Love this! So much food for thought here, especially in the midwinter “blah” stage of homeschooling. :)

  3. heidibenson says:

    You so nailed how I have been feeling. I too have been at this a long time and I couldn’t have expressed how I feel any more clearly! Thank you for this encouragement. :)

  4. Lisa says:

    This blog comes at a time when it’s most needed. Deciding on what’s working, along with what isn’t, with our family is a monumental decision with a lot of answers. We’re finding our way but sometimes I just need to know that others feel completely overrun at times too! Thank you for the encouragement!

  5. Sprittibee says:

    THIS. ;) Closing the gap in between our sophomore year and graduation… and looking at the inevitable last two or three years at home with my teens. You don’t sweat the details as much when you want to cherish the last few moments of time you have with the people you love the most.

    • Sarah Beals says:

      Yes, cherish the moments. I’ve graduated two and they are away in SC now and I miss them ever so much. I cherish the memories of our many sitting-on-the-couch-reading-under-blanket days while they were young. It’s so worth it, but it’s also just so hard. :)

  6. Thank you for this! I have an 11th grader…and today was one of those days. I haven’t had them often as a homeschool mom. But today I have berated myself for not doing enough and not being enough. I needed to be reminded why we are homeschooling. I want him to love learning. I don’t want him to hate the process. And I definitely don’t want him to hate me. It’s time for me to reevaluate. Thank you for sharing your heart!

    • Sarah Beals says:

      I TOTALLY understand. :) High school is hard. I’ve graduated two and there’s just no easy way around it. Breathe, and take the next step, friend. Thank you for stopping by. :)

  7. I want to meet you in real life and HUG you. I’ve only been doing it for 5 years, but I’m already there. We moved recently, after being surrounded by homeschoolers, to an area with few in our circle and I FEEL the school moms watching me. I needed to be reminded that what we do is enough. Thank you so much!!!

    • Sarah Beals says:

      It’s hard, Amy! And sometimes all the extras make it harder, i.e. conferences, support group meetings, even co-ops which take away from teaching time and mean you have to be away for a whole day. Some days balance means cutting back so that I don’t teeter-totter into exhaustion and dryness of spirit. You instinctively know your limits. Don’t be afraid to trust your intuition. I’m convinced that most homeschooling moms are too hard on themselves. :) HUGS.

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