Jamie Martin, editor of Simple Homeschool, also blogs about intentional motherhood at Steady Mom
“I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I–
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.”
~ Robert Frost, The Road Not Taken
I stood, staring down the two roads. One, worn from much use, seemed like the most obvious option. I knew exactly what lay ahead on that route. A classroom, my newly adopted daughter with special needs, IEP meetings, therapies, early morning wake up calls, experts who know what to do when I don’t.
Predictability and my comfort zone awaited me in that direction–time to myself, time with my two little boys, someone else to share the responsibility for the results, for her learning.
So much of it sounded good, so why did my heart sink in my chest when I looked down that road?
The other road cast scary, unfamiliar shadows around its bend. Labeled the homeschooling path, you could tell only a few went that way. Gazing in the distance of our future if we stepped out, the trail was rocky and uncertain. This road led into a dark, hazy forest.
My heartbeat quickened with both fear and excitement, with responsibility and overwhelm, as I stepped out slowly, carefully–a tiny baby step.
Then another, then another, then another. Those steps took courage, yes, but you should also know that I often glanced over my shoulder at the other road–making sure it wasn’t too far away. We could easily get back there if we wanted to.
But something happened on that less-taken road after a year or two of timid baby steps.
It became more and more beautiful. The bend up ahead didn’t lead to a dark forest after all, but to a playful, babbling brook. In fact, it turns out the further down the path we went, the more gorgeous it became.
What if we had never started at all?
Long ago I stopped looking over my shoulder altogether. The beauty of the road ahead has diminished our interest in the one left behind.
As the years have passed I realize just how far off the path we’ve traveled. We even speak a different language: While friends talk of grade levels, test scores, and Common Core, we talk of inspiration, freedom, and mission.
This homeschooling route fills with possibilities the deeper in we go. We’ve navigated and carved it wide open ourselves–our own alternative that allows our whole family to thrive.
Not that the way is always smooth. Some days it is, and filled with wonder and joy I dance down it confidently. Sometimes the way is rocky and hard, and I have to stoop down and crawl just to move the tiniest bit forward.
Sometimes I just stand still and take in the view, letting worship bubble up inside for all we’ve been given.
But smooth or rough, the path is always worth it. I’m immensely grateful for the One who led us here, for the faith that gave courage to take that one frightened baby step.
Five years ago we took the road less traveled by.
And it has made all the difference.
“If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears the beat of a different drummer. Let him step to the music which he hears, however measured or far away.”
~ Henry David Thoreau, Walden
Originally published October 21, 2013