Not a lot of my friends homeschool. And, really, can you blame them?
When their kids come home after a particularly trying day of school, my friends can console their child by reasoning that perhaps the teacher had a bad day. These loving parents can sympathize with the enormous amount of work required of the student. Moms can pray for the other people in their child’s classroom to have better attitudes towards their offspring.
When my kids have a bad day at school, guess what…it’s my fault. I’m the teacher who had a bad day, who assigned too much work, and who had the bad attitude. And guess what else…I certainly don’t feel like consoling anyone. Instead, I feel like running away.
The reality is that homeschooling is an isolating endeavor. Physically it is isolating because there are days when I don’t leave my house. Heck, I don’t even put on real pants. But, it is more isolating emotionally.
Because I am in this tiny minority among my friends, I feel like I have to be an ambassador for homeschooling. I don’t want these people whom I love and respect to ever think that this crazy educational experiment was a mistake, or that it might be anything but rainbows and unicorns. I try to pepper my conversations about school with statements like,
“What a blessing to see my children learn.”
“God has called me to this, so He provides my every need.”
“I enjoy spending my days with these people God has entrusted me with.”
And, while all this is true, there are simply days I want to confess,
“I hid in the closet and cried for an hour.”
“I was tempted to spike my coffee with something to help me get through the morning.” (I didn’t.)
“I yelled at them, and then apologized, and then yelled again because they simply will not finish their math!!!”
I live in fear that my loving friends (and society at large) will say, “If it’s really this hard, enroll them in school,” when what I need to hear is, “I’m praying for you. I admire you. You’ve got this.”
As Americans, we often look for the easy way out, the path of least resistance. I realize that my days would be a lot less stressful if my kids left my house for seven hours each day. My laundry would be done, my house would be dusted, floors swept, Christmas presents bought and wrapped, toenails painted…really, I spend a vast amount of time fantasizing about what life would be like if only. But, in reality, I don’t think easy is what we are called to.
Nobody who is already a parent looks at a pregnant woman and says, “You will not sleep for at least a year. And when your baby finally sleeps through the night, you won’t sleep because you will be worried about their future. This baby in your womb will cause you heartache and ulcers and agonizing misery.” No, because while all of that is true, people who are already parents know that every hour awake, every worry, every petition to God on your child’s behalf is nothing compared to the absolute pure joy that comes from having a perfect little person call you Momma. The good outweighs the bad a thousand times over.
Here’s the thing, as Christians we should understand that all good things are not easy. Jesus did not say, “Take up your cake, and follow me.” I mean, come on, if cake were part of the deal, everyone would be a Christian. Who doesn’t like cake? No, he said, “Take up your cross, and follow me.” (Matthew 16:24) He asked us to give up everything we wanted for our lives and willingly pick up a device designed to torture and execute, and then follow Him. It’s hard – sometimes to the point of death. But the rewards are immeasurable.
So it is with homeschooling. I get that there is an easy way out. I know that my house would be clean, my kids would be educated, and that I might even be sane, but that is not my calling. (“Sanity is not my calling” – I’m going to cross-stitch that onto a pillow.) Homeschooling is hard; it is stressful and it is a huge undertaking. I am highly aware that my children’s entire educational base rests firmly on my shoulders – a responsibility that I don’t take lightly.
But, on the days that aren’t rainbows and unicorns, when light bulbs aren’t going off over my children’s heads and more tears are present than laughs, on those days, I just need some grace. On the days when I seriously consider running away from home, I need to be able to say, “This is hard and it sucks and I quit.” And I need to hear, “Yep. It is. Kids are the worst,” followed by, “You’ve got this. You are equipped. There is a reason that God made you their momma.”
Or, sometimes just, “I’ll pack you a sandwich, eat as you run.”