Jamie Martin, editor of Simple Homeschool, also blogs about motherhood at Steady Mom
“My crown is called content, a crown that seldom kings enjoy.”
I cried. At least once a day. For years.
No, I wasn’t suffering from depression. Nor did I have a chronic eye watering condition.
I was homeschooling.
Five years ago, Steve and I made the “official” decision to homeschool. It was scary, of course–a move into a completely unknown world.
But our hearts, souls, minds and spirits pointed in this direction so we stepped out.
The educational philosophy that resonated with us most, Leadership Education, advocated delayed academics in the early years–letting children learn through play and allowing their own internal motivation to direct their education. We would “inspire, not require” instead of following a rigid program.
“Our kids are so lucky,” I thought more than once. (And still do.)
Not having to spend our days entrenched in an impersonal institution, we would all be so happy with our growing freedoms together.
Except we weren’t.
“Happiness is not a goal; it is a by-product.”
~ Eleanor Roosevelt
Now that I think back, the struggles make perfect sense. I lacked a solid understanding of child development, and I had a five-, four-, and three-year-old. I had no family in the area to pitch in when needed and a husband who often traveled for work.
I didn’t have battles over academics, true. And that’s good–because I just wouldn’t have been able to handle any more battles.
I spent all day every day teaching my little ones about character and kindness, settling sibling squabbles to infinity and beyond, emptying my introverted mama cup only to desperately look for ways to fill it again before the next wave of exhaustion hit.
Photo by Gisela Francisco
“I can make it until bedtime. Just until bedtime,” I would coach myself, when thoughts of the next decade pressed in upon my tired mind.
We did all this each day and then–like goldfish in a bowl–we’d wake up and do it again the next, without a lot of fruit to display for our efforts.
Each day a step of faith.
Not that these were miserable years, mind you. They were just….hard. I blogged throughout them, honoring the struggle and counting blessings at the same time.
I learned a ton about looking for the good, changing my mindset, taking responsibility for my own thoughts, feelings, and moment-by-moment decisions in the process.
And in the midst of the hard, I also questioned myself deeply. If I was really on the right path would it feel this difficult, I wondered?
So I researched and visited schools, looked at the options, cried some more.
And each time my heart led me right back home again. Into the hard. Right where I was meant to be.
Photo by Wapster
It turns out I wasn’t doing anything wrong; I was living the life we had chosen. The life we deeply wanted. The best life God had for us.
Out of my comfort zone in a major way, but with deep faith, an incredible husband, and a firm conviction of the rightness of what we were doing for our family, we persevered one day at a time.
“If only we’d stop trying to be happy we could have a pretty good time.”
~ Edith Wharton
I share this today because some of you know exactly what I’m talking about. You’re wondering where you’ve gone wrong–while your son isn’t reading or your daughter still throws tantrums. You’re questioning if you could really be a good parent and feel the way you do. The parent guilt weighs heavy.
Here’s the truth: Homeschooling is hard and sometimes it will feel hard. This could mean it’s time to make a change, but not necessarily. It could mean that you’re right where you–and your kids–need to be. It’s supposed to be hard.
Five years later, I’m now homeschooling an eight-, nine-, and ten-year-old. We still have plenty of challenges, being imperfect people walking this life journey together, mind you. But in the past two years we’ve turned a corner.
All those seeds of kindness and compassion I spent years watering have started to bud and flower. My incredible children have started to fall in love with learning, and that is a joy to watch. I have more time these days to fill my own well, too, with writing and reading and study.
It’s true, these days I am happier. But I never would have gotten here if I hadn’t been there.
Each step, each day, each moment–entirely worthy of the struggle.
I’ve learned that happiness rarely comes when you seek it. Instead it brushes against your shoulder when you’ve stopped looking. When you’ve started to value doing what’s right over your own personal satisfaction.
When you can live in the moment without analyzing it to death and find joy in your children whether or not they’re “performing” according to your standards or anyone else’s.
My happier ever after began long ago, though I couldn’t see it at the time.
And looking back, I’m so, so grateful that I didn’t give up.
“Happiness is like a butterfly which, when pursued, is always beyond our grasp, but, if you will sit down quietly, may alight upon you.”
~ Nathaniel Hawthorne