After giving a little life update on Instagram recently and sharing that our family has decided to homeschool, I had a handful of friends message me and ask that I share more about what led to this decision. There are so many elements that have contributed to our arrival at this decision that it’s kind of hard to know where to start. But I guess I’ll just dive in.
As a bit of history– I attended public school K-12 and Michael attended both public and Christian/private and also homeschooled 2 years (7th & 8th grade.)
Let me just begin by saying that this decision was so. hard.
Before I had kids (all the best statements start that way! ha) I didn’t give the education of my children much thought. But once my first born hit about 3 years old, I was like, “Hold up…I have to make this epic decision right now?!” Which of course, I didn’t. I had time. But the decision felt epic…it felt too big for me to make alone, or even for Michael and I to make together. We needed the Lord’s guidance and we began to pray about the right direction.
Our oldest did his first year (pre-K) at a homeschool enrichment program that met once a week but went all day (9am – 3pm.) For months he would cry every time that we left him. I waited for him to get used to the routine, but 6 months in and he was still crying. I struggled with knowing if this was the normal adjustment or if he needed something different than what we were offering him. It was a good program with a wonderfully supportive staff and yet, there were other signs that he wasn’t fully engaged.
Fast forward to the next year– his Kindergarten year. We are continuing to pray, I am researching and reading all about different homeschooling methods and ideas, and we are talking to friends that homeschool about their experiences. The school year begins and although I am wrestling in prayer over it still, we send him to the public school down the road from where we live. At this point I am working and am 8 months pregnant and even though this homeschooling idea is alive and well in my heart, it’s been temporarily put on the back burner. It felt too big to take on at that point, too much. I’m not sure what I thought it had to be, but my expectations are usually way too high and especially so for myself (grace! I’m learning…) so I was afraid of making the decision. I was scared of failing.
The very first week of school and I can already sense there are changes in our home. This new schedule of having to get the boys up at 6:45, get myself and everyone ready, and my oldest off to school by 7:40 is brutal. We are rushed and stressed. Some mornings go smoothly, but most are a challenge. My work day gets shifted into the hours of 8-2:30 and then I am back in the carpool lane by 2:45. We finally get home by 3:20 and then the second shift of the day starts– homework (yes, homework for kindergarten!) and housework and dinner and clean up and bath and bedtime routine. And then make a packed lunch for the next day. And then maybe try to hang out with Michael before crashing asleep (pregnant, remember?) It was not the lifestyle that I wanted for us long term, but it was the season we were in and we had to do our best.
When I would dream about what I really wanted, it looked so different. I wanted a peaceful home, most of all. A sanctuary from the loud and busy and demanding world. A place for my family to rest and to grow and to love one another and a place where we could all thrive. I also wanted freedom and flexibility in our day, in our schedule, and in what we put our hands and minds to. I wanted to give my boys the chance to really fall in love with learning and not just the experience of “going to school.” I wanted to train them in a holistic way; yes, we would teach them to read and write and know how to calculate sums, but also how to take care of themselves and their surroundings, and how to speak with respect and how to listen to others, and sometimes how to make soup and bread and have a civilized conversation over the meal. I wanted to raise these little boys in a way that would produce good men. And I wanted our days to be marked by prayer and scripture and inviting the Holy Spirit to guide us, always.
Another important element that influenced our decision was simply time– we wanted as much time with our boys as possible, recognizing both our responsibility to guide and train them and the limited amount of time we would actually have to do that (we wanted more than 3 hours on weekdays with them and we also respected the short years they would actually be under our roof.) The time we have to influence our boys is a precious gift and I was increasingly feeling the weight of that gift.
So what was holding me back from making the switch? As I mentioned before (did you catch it?)…F E A R.
Ugh. Fear of failing my boys, of not being a good enough teacher, good enough mother, good enough…whatever. Good enough. What a weird standard. Set by whom? The fear was also screaming lies about losing myself, losing whatever independence I might find in work outside the home, out in the hustle and bustle of the community. Fear of losing some easy description of what I do, who I am, printed in small font on a business card under my name. Fear of losing whatever shred of identity that still stood on its own, untethered to the part of me that was a mother.
And then one random Tuesday morning, I relented to the struggle. I submitted. I bowed my heart to the thing that I knew the Lord was calling me to and that I had been fighting (even though I also knew Him to be totally trustworthy and that He was a Father that gave good gifts!) My desirous pride, clinging to the rusty idol of independence, had been graciously brought to the light so that I could see it’s disfigured form. It made my stomach turn. Why would I ever assume that a home of peace and contentment could be cultivated by such an ugly master?
Even though there are a hundred different practical reasons that we’ve decided to homeschool, this is the heart of the story. This is the real reason. Because this is where Jesus is leading our family and we must follow.
Let me tell you the truth. The relenting brings freedom.
“If you refuse to take up your cross and follow me, you are not worthy of being mine. If you cling to your life, you will lose it; but if you give up your life for me, you will find it.” (Matt. 10:38-39, NLT)