Let me preface this by saying this is our homeschool journey. I’m not presenting our story as a manifesto for all families; I’m sharing how our decision to homeschool came to be. So please don’t feel obligated or guilted to choose the same path. We can have unity in diversity. We really can.
There were several factors and outside influences that led to a culmination of our decision to homeschool.
This year, our oldest, Micah, will be in 1st grade and our second son, Asher, will be in kindergarten. Last year they both attended a private Christian school. Asher was in pre-school four days a week and Micah was in half-day kindergarten (this is relevant, stay with me).
It started with thinking about first grade. About halfway through the year last year when I thought ahead to first grade, all I could think about was how Micah would be in school all day. He would leave before 8 in the morning and be home close to 4. That’s an adult working day and it made me sick in my heart to think that I wouldn’t see my favorite six-year old for most of the day. I genuinely enjoy being around my kids (that’s a story in itself; keep reading to see why) so I was truly sad when I thought about it. Six is still so tiny to me. I don’t have to reach that far back into my brain archives to envision him as that chubby baby and sweet toddler.
So that was the first thing.
And then I read this blog post in which the couple had decided they were done with children after two, but then her youngest went to school full-time and she realized that elusive dream she’d been chasing for years of having hours to herself while they were in school was nice for a short time….and then it got old. She regretted their decision when she saw how quickly those little years went by. And that post really got to me because I realized I’d been subconsciously chasing that same mental dream. But when I thought about the times I did get away for a few hours, I had the same experience: it’s nice at first but then I just really want to be home and hanging out as a whole family again.
I also read a statistic around this time that said by the time your child is 12 years old, you will have spent 75% of the time with them that you’ll ever spend with them. I was really struck by the thought and the fact that my kids really will grow up and be gone one day.
But, before I hit the big thing that got me on the homeschooling route, I need to interject something critical to this journey.
I love babies and toddlers and would probably have millions of them if I could. So I didn’t feel like I really struggled with motherhood until my children reached about age five. And then in a short amount of time I slipped into a deep, dark tunnel of despising the season I was in. I didn’t despise my children, I despised being needed all the time and having to constantly micromanage a million different conflicts and needs all day, every day. It took me by unpleasant surprise. I hated who I had become – constantly irritated and angry, always feeling anxious and like everything was always “too much.” It regularly drove me to desperate and intense prayers for a change of heart; I prayed constantly that I wouldn’t just survive this season but that I would love it and delight in my children every single day. I prayed that God would show me now what I would regret in 10 years if I didn’t change. (The first thing he showed me clearly that I would regret is my phone constantly in my face. It was like he showed me a picture of myself from the outside, what I looked like to my kids. It was jarring and made the decision to cut out social media on my phone very easy.)
So. I was praying intensely, repenting constantly to my kids, sharing my struggle with my husband and trustworthy friends, and still always feeling like joy was impossible and that I was barely staying afloat in life.
And then we drove to Disneyland and I read two books that forever shifted my parenting paradigm and changed my life.
The first was Wess Stafford’s, Too Small to Ignore, and the second was Gloria Furman’s, Treasuring Christ When Your Hands are Full.
I can’t in this small space really convey how the Lord used those books to wake me up but suffice it to say I woke up. I woke up to my ungodly and unbiblical view of my kids (and kids in general), of motherhood, and of this season. I woke up to my incredible selfishness and self-absorption. A light straight from the Lord himself turned on in my heart and spirit and I realized with Holy Spirit clarity that I was literally squandering these years. Not only would I never get them back but if things continued as they were, I would look back and hate how I had spent them: constantly annoyed and angry, absorbed in personal interests and trivial pursuits (like social media and the online world in general), operating like my kids were a constant inconvenience. I can’t explain it except that scales fell off my eyes. And I fell head over heels in love with my kids again, the way I had experienced at their births. In a short span of time God brought to fruition months and months and months of desperate prayers.
I had so much repenting to do. I even repented to a friend for the (many) times I had spoken negatively about my kids to her and about motherhood in general, even if I said it sarcastically (which we all know is usually an indication for how we really feel). It was a cleansing of my mind and spirit, a turning from selfishness and self-absorption to obedience to the commands of God and his truth about the priceless worth he’s given my kids and this sacred, irreplaceable role I have in their lives.
With repentance and forgiveness came vision of what I wanted our family to look like. I wanted time with them. I wanted to treasure this season with them that I’ll never get back. I wanted to shepherd their hearts to love what’s good and beautiful. I wanted school and learning to be a shared experience, one in which we adventured together. After almost a solid year of feeling like I just bid my time until bedtime, I suddenly had fresh purpose and vision.
For me, homeschool was the natural overflow of all of this. And after we made the decision, everything fell into place – the curriculum, the community, the confirmation, all of it. In fact, I just told Matt this weekend on a family getaway to Big Sky that I’ve rarely felt so sure of a calling before. My spirit is at rest. My mind is at rest. Even Matt has commented several times these last months on the change he’s seen in me, by God’s grace and transformative power. Do I still have moments or days where I struggle? Yes, absolutely. But it’s nothing like what it used to be when every single day was a struggle. I can now honestly say that most of the time I just genuinely enjoy my children and love this season that we’re in.
So that’s how our decision to homeschool came to be. I haven’t regretted or second-guessed it one time. When I’m afraid and feel overwhelmed, I remind myself that God has called me to this and with calling comes equipping. When I am afraid, I put my trust in him.
And just a couple last practical things I did to encourage the seed that had been planted in my heart for a Biblical view of motherhood and family to take root and bear fruit:
I deleted/unfollowed every social media account or person that disparaged motherhood and children.
I refuse to read those “viral” posts that ultimately portray moms and kids as total drags and/or losers.
I found (and listen to daily) podcasts that honor and uphold a Biblical view of motherhood and family (Focus on the Family, Sally Clarkson, Tim Keller).
I’ve found homeschool websites and blogs that not only fit Biblically but also with my personal style of teaching (Read-Aloud Revival, the Charlotte Mason method, trustworthy bloggers’ booklists).
I read books that speak to this season and journey (Honey for a Child’s Heart, Teaching from Rest, Treasuring Christ When your Hands are Full).
These are just a few things I’ve done to be intentional in this new season, but ultimately the most important thing is this –
Whatever we do, however diverse our journeys, may it all bring glory to the only One to whom glory is due.