When I was gainfully employed as a teacher (in a former life, where I worked out at the gym and got a whole night of sleep), I had a good support system.
I taught at a Christian school, so I had a near-infinite amount of kind, understanding, sympathetic co-workers with whom I could vent all my struggles and frustrations.
I knew I wasn’t alone in wanting to pull my hair out at 2:50pm when the sweaty seventh grade boys scraped their nails on the chalkboard, just for laughs. Teaching was hard, but I wasn’t alone.
Not so as a homeschool mom.
Although I have my sisters (and thank God for them) in this epic adventure with me, there is an overwhelming sense that you’re walking a dimly lit road alone, second guessing every step and turn.
I know there are the groups and the co-ops and the books. I’ll find them.
But still. I have these thoughts, and I have the strong sense that maybe…just maybe…other moms feel this way too. And they’re afraid or not even sure how to voice them. No one wants to be the homeschool mom that Everyone Knows Should Quit. So we stuff it. At the risk of losing my placement at the top of the imaginary pedestal I feel I am on, I am sharing my thoughts today.
These are the inmost thoughts of a Homeschool Mom.
Here is what I believe homeschool moms think, but don’t say.
- “This isn’t fun right now.” I imagine there may be some moms who enjoy every single second of homeschooling. Though somehow I doubt it. Because for my part, I “enjoy” homeschooling in the same way I “enjoy” running. It’s hard, and sweaty, and at any given moment I might rather be curled up in a cozy napping ball. But I like it because it’s worth it. Because it’s doing something that matters, that is worthwhile, and that gives me great pride when I finish the race and say, “Wow. That was incredible, and I’m so glad I did it.”
- “This house is a disaster.” Someone told me before I homeschooled, “Well, you just have to get used to your house not being clean. Because you can’t homeschool and have a clean house. ” In my head I thought, “Well, too bad she’s not as clean as I am.” Bahaha! Whoever you are, I’m very sorry and you were right. All the messes do get to me. I need to work better at getting the kids to put away their previous mess before we start the new one. And maybe just permanently mount the vacuum in the schoolroom.
- “My kid is behind.” It’s scary to have a classroom of one. I’ll have these panic moments where I think, EVERY OTHER FIRST GRADER CAN CODE THINGS. I DON’T EVEN KNOW WHAT CODING IS. SAM IS SO BEHIND.
- “My kid is ahead.” More often than not – I’ll never say it out loud – but I’m pleased with our progress. Sam is reading The Hardy Boys at bedtime, and painting these precious little masterpieces, and sitting patiently through The Life Story Of Bach and Ty loves math flashcards and sounding out words..I’m proud of my kids.
- “Yet this is pure chaos.” I have these moments…Ellie is clawing my leg in a snotty tantrum because I won’t let her eat the markers. Ty is throwing a tantrum because he’s evidently too tired to color a square. And Sam is bouncing a basketball (loudly) that somehow made its way into the schoolroom. And I just laugh. Actually I cry. In my head I thought homeschooling would be more orderly and efficient than a real classroom. But no. It just has different kinds of distractions.
- “Is it bad that we’re done school already?” I’ve gotten better with this one, but it will still creep up on me. Some magical days when we’ve finished everything by like 11:30, and the boys are making a bear trap in the front yard…It will terrify me for a second, and I feel like I’m missing something…and then I realize, no, we’ve done the other stuff. A rope and stick bear trap is exactly what they should be doing right now.
- “I’m the wrong person to do this.” I had the most fantastic revelation this week. I realized that there is actually no perfect homeschool personality. Intrinsic to every unique person are specific strengths and weaknesses. Specific things that suit you well for homeschool, and specific weaknesses that make you just awful at it. I might not ever spend all day reading novels, and I don’t hand-craft pyramid replicas. But I’m terrific at planning our curricula, I know how to explain something, and I’m a good encourager. Of course, this doesn’t mean I don’t try to improve my pyramid-making skills. I do. I work emphatically on my weaknesses, to be the best teacher my kids could ever have. But I do so confidently, happily. Without feeding the nagging condemnation that “I’m just not cut out for this.”
- There’s something else I’d rather be doing. Ah, yes. I have realized that homeschool moms, like any other work-at-home employee, are tempted by The Things Calling Your Name Around The House. To work at home in any capacity means that, yes, the dishes and the laundry and the badly decorated guest room will call your name. And you just have to get some earplugs.
- I am so, so glad my kids aren’t in school. I often see the school buses, or pass the school buildings, and I am absolutely overcome with gratitude that I have my children with me. Not in a weird, helicopter-parent, Amish sort of way. But just in a, this feels right. I type this knowing that one day I may drop off my children at a school. No judgment. But I’m just telling you, I am so completely thrilled that my children are with me, and not in school.
- Is it bad if I’m not enjoying this moment? I have a lot of guilt for not *enjoying* every minute of homeschool. I mean, I chose this life. Why in the world did I choose it if I didn’t LOVE it? Does it mean I’ve made a mistake? And on and on. Then I remember. I didn’t love every minute of being a teacher before, and yet never for one instance doubted my calling in this vocation. It never stressed me out if I didn’t enjoy EVERY. SINGLE. MINUTE. Work is work; that’s why it’s called “work.” I have chosen to surrender my days and my gym workouts, and my solo Target runs, and my laundry days – to my children. I have given this happily, and I should not be shocked or confused when it hurts sometimes. Yes, in my very carnal flesh I would often prefer sitting under my heating blanket, alone, eating frozen pizzas and checking Facebook. But is this really the life I want? (Well, every so often wouldn’t hurt.) But seriously. No, it is not in the long run the life I want. I want to teach my children. I want to know them, to invest in them. And this is a sacrifice that might cost my momentary pleasure, but this doesn’t for a second mean it’s not worth doing.
Are you a homeschooling mom? Do you identify with any of these silent thoughts?
Follow "Smartter" Each Day on Facebook!
Follow "Smartter" Each Day on Twitter!
Follow Jessica on Instagram!