A Word to Struggling Home School Moms

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I’ve been thinking deeply about this post for more than two years.

It’s something that comes straight from the tenderest part of my heart, but I fear will be taken the wrong way, or read by the wrong person, so I’ve written and re-written, trashed, saved, edited, thought, prayed, discussed it with trusted friends, and left it for months.

When something keeps coming back to my heart, though, I wonder if maybe it’s for the good of someone else and I just need to get over my fear of what some may think.

With all my heart I’m hoping it reaches the one who needs it, and that it slips right past those who absolutely do not need it.

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An article I read that got me thinking…

I read an article months ago, that was from a homeschool mom who had a horrible first week of school, even after having prepared, organized, and planned amazing things, excited about a new year of home schooling.

The first week was still a struggle though, with the kids and with her own heart. The kind of struggle where you find yourself locked in the bathroom shedding tears and praying for help and wanting to send your kids on the yellow bus. Yet she knew that God would give her the strength to do this and to continue because she truly believed He’d called her to this.

She really wanted to encourage other home schoolers who are dealing with the same thing to be encouraged and to persevere, which are words that many women need to hear and that helps them get over the hump of a discouraging day.

There are truly many home schoolers who love it, and who maybe only struggle occasionally with it but never feel like they need to do something different. I have many friends who seem to truly be passionate about it and just love teaching their little ones and love having them at home. They are good at it too, not like super-mom-ish, but just able to manage well, while still getting joy out of it. If you want to get down to it, I think there are maybe three families in our church who don’t home school.

Sure they struggle, but just not in the same profound way. I believe that the majority of home schoolers actually do it because they like it.

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How it was for me…

It’s been more than three years since we’ve homeschooled, but I remember feeling exactly how she felt, back when we homeschooled. I would often find myself sitting there in that despair and in that desperate state, feeling inadequate and unable, discouraged. I remember being encouraged by others to persevere, and I would come away feeling renewed and ready for more, often only to hit the same wall the next day, and the next, and the day after that.

There were definitely glimpses of hope, glimpses of good things. There were plenty of meaningful moments with my children. I loved being at home, loved teaching them to read, loved laying a blanket down outside and having a picnic lunch followed by a long book.

There were many pleasant days, many snuggles, many good books read, many painted journals, much art and music studied, all of which were delights to my soul.

More often than not though, there were many dark days and dark nights, where I wanted to give up and had no idea why we kept doing this. I put my heart and soul into it, but raising up children combined with educating them most often caused lots of conflict between me and them and left me feeling pretty hopeless.

I would creep into myself and not know how to pull out. 

I couldn’t figure out how to balance training my children, how to face their rotten attitudes, how to manage our classroom, all while keeping every other bit of our life running and in order. I often felt breathless, like I was sinking.

There was much stepping out of the room, reheating of the coffee, and lots of moments of what felt like insanity where I was pulled in so very many directions all at the same time, switching my hats back and forth–teacher hat, lesson planner hat, chef hat, house keeper hat, wife hat, launderer hat, entertainment hat, nursemaid hat–it felt endless, the many uses of me and I felt drained.

I honestly got to a place where I mostly just hated it, but I struggled with the guilt of wondering how I could hate this when these are my own sweet babies?

But in all those feelings, it seemed like there wasn’t a place for the hating of it, because so many people out there encourage home school moms to persevere through the hard and to never give up. I felt like I didn’t want to look the home school community in the eye and tell them the truth.

I wanted to be accepted by them and respected, and for crying out loud I did not want to fail. I did not want to give up, to admit that I wasn’t cut out for this calling, as they say. I loved the idea of home schooling, but the reality for me never matched the idea.

I kept praying for strength and grace, and I kept plodding along, through the good days and bad days. And my kids were well educated and excelled despite my frail heart.

But mostly my nights ended in doubt and complaints that got all too familiar to Luke’s ears.

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Can you relate to this?

I think I’ve figured that if I had such an inner battle of the heart, there are probably other moms in that very same dark place. There are some home schoolers out there that feel the same way, maybe even you, who wish for something different, but can’t or won’t get out of it. And they don’t know where to turn.

In many ways it’s because they’re constantly encouraged to never give up, like in the article I read, and they’ve come to believe that choosing another form of education would be like waving the white flag and throwing in the towel.

Like it’s second rate and they’re quitting the race, or like they gave up and ignored God’s calling. As though the proverbial crowd looking in is saying, “Another one bites the dust.”

When maybe the truth is they’re just not cut out for this and they’ve been forcing themselves into a mold made by other people and for other people, a mold they maybe never were intended to fit into. A mold that maybe God Himself didn’t want them to fit into.

They can’t see past the talks about persevering and facing the hard and remembering their calling. They see the happy moms that seem to thrive off of it. It even seems like every mom they meet at church seems to home school, so they feel like the feelings they feel are just dumb, that they should be able to get over it and be like the other moms.

So they keep moving forward and perhaps hiding their true struggles and trying to make it work, pushing down the desires to do something different.

In my experience, I can tell you there’s not a lot of forums for that person.

I did not want to “admit defeat.” I feared being on the other side, I feared all the reasons my own self didn’t like home schooling, I feared I was caving, because this is the language that’s often used amongst home schoolers, and I fell prey to it.

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What do you do with all this?

As I look back, I realize that it’s so wrong to think of it as defeat, to think of it as a battle that you have to win, a race that you have to finish.

Are schooling choices a battle that we have to win? Should we enter into it like it’s a war zone? Is it a race that requires finishing?

You are not admitting defeat. It’s not a battle. There are no sides. And it’s not a race.

There is freedom in Christ, His burden is light and His yoke is easy. He’s not demanding or pushy, He’s full of grace and light. He hasn’t set any rules up about schooling choices.

It’s okay to say that you aren’t cut out for home schooling. If you find yourself in the darkest places every day, where your days are ending with more frustrations than grace, look to Jesus and honestly feel His freedom to do something else. It’s okay, and it’s good. And it may very well be His best for you.

If you love it stay, but if you hate it, move on. There is grace for you, because you’re called to walk with the Lord in all things, no matter what you choose. And He is delighted when His children are embracing who He made them to be, because there is true joy in it.

It’s okay if you are in the minority, and if so many other people truly find joy in this. It’s okay if you don’t.

If you’ve hit a wall and you just can’t, then don’t.

You love your kids, you love your family. They don’t love their kids or family more than you do. We all express it differently.

If that’s you, friend,  know God’s grace! You are not alone, you are doing a wonderful job in this life, and it’s okay if this home schooling thing is not for you. We don’t need to look like everyone else and be like everyone else. It’s okay to choose your own path.

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Join this conversation…

Nothing is perfect, our choice is not perfect. There are many challenges and many days I feel down in the dumps even now. Believe me, the kids still drive me crazy plenty of times!

But there’s relief, so much relief, and honestly a sweet trusting in the Lord that I think I didn’t have when I was angsting through my home school days. I’ve found freedom in sending them off to get their academics somewhere else, and joy in wearing the mom-hat and tossing the teacher-hat.

I’m not even going to pretend that this is exhaustive and covers all points. I know there are so many aspects to discuss with all of this, believe me, and maybe I’ll write more about it soon. But maybe this can get the conversation started, and hopefully it will be full of grace and love and genuine care for each other.

Let’s hold each other up and encourage each other to do what’s best for you and your family and what you enjoy the most.

If you are wondering what you should do and just need an understanding word from the other side, please email me or comment here. I really would love to chat about it and encourage you personally. 

 

 

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  • Kari Pope

    Love your heart, friend. Filled with grace and encouragement. So much good here that I’m certain someone needs to hear. 🙂

    • Thanks Kari! Thanks for being one of my trusted friends, I so appreciate you!

  • Melina Asher

    I was homeschooled, so I saw how hard it was. All those hats a homeschool mom has to wear – wow – they are real and they are hard. I vowed I would never homeschool!

    But here I am – loving it! Not that I do it perfectly, or that we don’t ever have a hard day, or that I never stress-out about it. But I am thankful for this opportunity and wouldn’t desire to change it.

    That said, I am a firm believer that there is no one, perfect way to educate children! The options are as diverse and endless as there are children to be educated. Good educations and bad educations come from all methods. Godly adults come from all methods of education. Education is not the reason children grow up to walk worthy of the calling we pray for them!

    This is not a Biblical issue. It is so sad that it is so disruptive in church fellowship. The passion and guilt are felt on both sides. We need to be ok being different in this. It’s ok to even think differently and set different goals. It needs to be as comfortable as being ok with serving different things for breakfast.

    Kudos to anyone who is willing to prayerfully live the adventure of jumping out of their comfort zone to the other side.

    • Thanks for sharing, Melina! I honestly sometimes feel a little bit jealous of the moms that love it–I think I really wish that I had loved it as much as some. But I love what you say about how it shouldn’t be disruptive of church fellowship. So true!!! And I love when you said “It needs to be as comfortable as being ok with serving different things for breakfast.” Such a good way to look at it. Thanks again, I love your thoughts, always!!!