When I first started homeschooling my daughter, I had no intentions of making it a thing. I was a mom who happened to be homeschooling, but I was NOT a homeschool mom. There’s a difference.
In the beginning, I was organized and creative and a little smug. I had a daughter who, at two, could spell her name, count in Spanish, and sing the order of the planets. At playgroup, she said words like otoscope, marsupial, and impertinent. At age five, she informed me that her favorite book was The Swiss Family Robinson. Unabridged. I proudly displayed her beautiful handwriting on the fridge and plastered gold stars all over her work.
Fast forward a few years and a few more children. I am no longer smug. I am no longer organized. I don’t even have stickers because someone stuck them all over the cat. I have no idea what I’ve taught to whom or if my third child even knows there are planets.
The counters are covered with suspicious jars of things for science and toilet paper tubes for art, which is ironic because the old me would have sworn toilet paper tubes could never be art.
I am a homeschool mom. Not just a mom who homeschools, but a bona fide, tried-by-phonics homeschool mom who teaches not just one advanced child, but five children of varying degrees of talent and ability, attention and cooperation, desire and will. I am not just a patient, creative, enthusiastic teacher but a distracted, tired, and sometimes frustrated teacher who hopes the grocery clerk won’t ask the kids any difficult questions like “What grade are they in?”
I am a homeschool mom, and the dirty truth is, I don’t really like it. At noon on most days, I am on my second pot of coffee and my first pair of pajamas. Even on the best days, when everything is clicking right along and no one has cried over math even once, I sometimes stare out the window and indulge a fantasy about a big yellow bus that makes house calls.
I’d like to quit. I think about all the other things I could be doing instead of teaching long division again. I am convinced that if there really was such a thing as Purgatory, it would involve teaching long division. Or beginning reading.
Every few months, when a new math lesson results in mass hysteria or cursive practice threatens to be fatal, I have a little breakdown. I go up to my room and cry and think about the fact that there are worse things than raising five illiterate children.
Of course, that’s an exaggeration. Only two of them are illiterate.
There are also worse things than doing something you don’t like. No one will tell you that, but it’s true. We want to believe that we were put on this earth to feel good and serve our own dreams and desires, but that’s a lie. We were put on this earth to glorify God, and that sometimes takes a different road than I would have guessed.
I think about this often on the “I Don’t Wanna” days. Like it or not, homeschooling is the best option for our children for now. I’ve done the math. It always comes out the same. That means that God is in this. He has led me here and He has called me to this trial challenge opportunity for His time and for His purpose.
If God has called me here, He will provide the strength I need to stay here. I realize I have an unparalleled opportunity to see God work. And do you know where He tends to work first? In me.
That is the awful beauty of homeschooling. It gets at the stuff I tend to shove in the corners. It gets at the cruddy parts and the broken parts and the parts that should have been refined by now but aren’t. I am impatient, still. I am selfish, still. I am lazy, still.
No matter how many times a big yellow bus stops at my house, it is not going to take away all that stuff that lingers in my heart. Only God can do that, but God will only do that if I am obedient.
So on this beautiful day, I am thankful to be where God is. It just so happens to be in a living room sprinkled with flashcards and library books. It just so happens to be in my own home teaching my own children. It just so happens to be in the refiner’s fire.
It just so happens to be right where I need to be.