Written by Kara S. Anderson
A few weeks ago, I made a commitment that we were going to finish the last six weeks of school STRONG.
We were going to buckle down on math, and finish the things that were lingering out there.
I was so serious, that I put it on Instagram. I wanted some accountability.
Pretty much as soon as I did this, my daughter ended up in the hospital for three days. This was after a trip to the emergency room, returning home, and then heading back.
She got home on my husband’s birthday, which we barely celebrated. We still owe him a cake.
Two minutes later it was Mother’s Day, and then came a dead car, a broken toilet, and finally, a window that just exploded.
So as I sit here typing this, my question is obviously, “If God really wanted me to buckle down on homeschooling, why does He keep giving me all this other stuff to do?”
This is not a new idea, of course. My favorite resource when I need to remember that God never intended us to shove 36 hours of homeschooling, parenting, housekeeping, work, etc., into a 24-hour day is Sarah Mackenzie’s Teaching From Rest. (afflink)
In it, she writes:
“Take a hard look at the 168 hours in your week. Now consider your non-negotiables: sleep, eat, shower, pray. Plug in meal preparation, rest and church on Sunday, and enough wind-down time at the end of each day to ensure a good night’s sleep. See what’s left? You don’t get any more than that, sister.”
Although I know that’s true, I kind of hate it.
Because I always feel behind on something. And sometimes the things that fall off the to-do list are the BIG things.
Tuesday, my day started with pre-caffeine pajama toilet plunging. Guess what happened to Bible Study?
Wednesday my son’s window shattered before I had even gotten out of bed. So math was delayed by careful glass clean-up and multiple phone calls.
I can’t beat myself up about this. The window needs to get fixed; we need a car because not having one is keeping us from being able to fulfill commitments and get where we need to go, like … work.
So I don’t think my problem is priorities.
I don’t suspect yours is either, although I know a lot of you are in the same place as I am – always feeling behind – dealing with disappointment as another school year wraps up and you didn’t fit it all you wanted to.
It’s a terrible feeling – and the countdown clock has only gotten louder for me as my kids age and I’ve started to focus on the number of years before they leave home.
It’s all enough to paralyze me if I let it, and yet, I know I am trying. I know my heart is in the right place for these kids. I want to give them everything, it’s just that life keeps getting in the way.
Earlier this year we moved. It shifted everything.
I just realized this past week that I have yet to bake cookies in this house, and we’ve been here six months.
Is it any wonder, then, that school hasn’t yet found its rhythm?
And the harder I push, the harder I get push-back – not from my kids, necessarily, but from LIFE.
There is simply always something beeping, breaking, brewing or barfing (<— usually pets.)
We can’t ignore those things. What kind of parents are we if we teach our kids division, but neglect to buy groceries? Or if we drill them on capitals, but never take them to the dentist?
Any homeschool parent who has been at this for more than 15 minutes knows that home education is different. We’ve all heard that unlike school, homeschooling is a way of life.
But the standards and old rules are still deeply ingrained. Learning still looks like a kid with a pencil, even if that kid is perched in a tree.
When I’m able to press pause, I remember that learning can look all kinds of ways, and can happen anywhere. I remember to look at my kids and see that they are healthy, happy, engaged, smart, funny …
But then I also remember I need to make a radiology appointment.
I feel a little frazzled most of the time lately, and I can point to the exact origin – GUILT. Guilt weighs on me so much that every few months I have to go to get my neck fixed. The diagnosis: “stress.”
It doesn’t help that in 2019, we have people bashing working homeschooling parents. What I see from the working homeschool parents I know is so much effort to get it right, to find a balance … to keep their kids first …
Slinging mud then is just a toxic smokescreen and P.S. I don’t often see dads criticized for working. Ahem.
Intention and effort
And so this is where I find myself, on a Wednesday, when I am writing a post instead of baking cookies; instead of teaching my kids Latin, instead of calling the radiologist:
I am doing the best I can.
I wish it was better and more, but I am working on that – not the better and more part, but the guilt part.
Because now I get to log off, and I get to be with my kids. And dragging residual guilt into our time together isn’t going to help anyone.
I bet you are doing your best too. Not THE BEST. (That’s fancy internet nonsense curated by people with more free time and less puking pets and exploding windows than you and me).
We are real parents, giving real effort, 24 hours a day.
I want to believe that intention and effort is enough here.
I’m sure that LOVE is. But as homeschooling parents, we need to show ourselves love too.
We know this is still a path less chosen. There will be plenty of people who will tell us that what we are endeavoring to do is too hard; that we aren’t capable; or that we aren’t doing it right.
When we add our own voice – the voice of guilt – on top of that, we’re dooming ourselves to failure, or at least to missing out on the beauty in the mess.
I wish I could tell us all that we are enough, and that when we look back, we’ll wish we spent all these hours worrying just enjoying our kids.
The very reason this is so hard in the moment is because we desperately want to get it right.
But then, doesn’t that prove that there is no one out there more perfect for the job?
How do you deal with homeschool guilt? Where are you finding beauty in the busyness of life?
If you enjoyed this post, register now for Jamie’s 2019 summer book club! It’s a literary tour around the world, and it kicks off soon!