Written by Kara Anderson
It happened so quickly.
Just eight weeks ago we were part of a homeschool group we loved. A group that had been home for more than four years. A group that had become like family.
I write this post from a place a deep sadness, because we found ourselves stepping away from that group last week.
It had just become too much. I call it poison, although some disagreed with that analysis.
It doesn’t matter. What matters is that when we took some time away, just the four of us in our little family, it became crystal clear what we needed to do.
What isn’t as clear is how to deal with the resulting heartbreak, and what to do next.
Homeschool heartbreak is a tricky beast.
It doesn’t always look the same. It can come from unsupportive family, friends who don’t understand your path, a spouse who isn’t in your corner or even fellow homeschoolers.
And it can be incredibly hard to get back up and keep fighting, when you feel like something that matters so much to you has been used against you.
At these kinds of low moments it’s incredibly tempting to give up on homeschooling all together.
Guilt and Doubt jump in like a wrestling tag-team, more than willing to take over where whatever or whoever broke your heart left off.
“You can’t do this,” they whisper. “You’re failing your kids.”
I can’t tell you with any certainty exactly what works in these situations because this is something I am navigating myself right now, every day.
Overcoming homeschool heartbreak feels a lot like starting over, but with a whole new bag of worry and self-doubt on your shoulders.
Some mornings I wake up ready to take on the world on behalf of Team Anderson.
Other mornings, I feel like getting caught up in a Facebook-peanut-butter-cup-cyclone, spending the day watching cat videos and typing with chocolate-y fingers.
But I won’t. I can’t.
So here’s what I’m doing now, and it’s helping:
Focus on what is working
It’s important to not get to hyper-focused on the negative.
Just because your co-op isn’t working, or your mother-in-law pointed out a place where your kids are having trouble, does NOT mean that homeschooling isn’t working.
For us: Homeschooling is working. Math is working. Our book selections are working.
My kids are awesome, well-adjusted, social people who have a ton of wonderful friends.
One thing is off-track. That’s it.
One, manageable thing.
Keep your loves close
Am I the only one who feels the need, in times of stress, to pull my people close?
It’s amazing — 36 hours of real, quality time was all it took for us to come together as a family and be able to determine our next step.
And when I falter, I look at my kids, and remember that we have to make the best choices for us.
Don’t believe the doubters. They lack imagination.
Homeschooling is a path less chosen, which means we need to surround ourselves all the more with people who lift us up, not tear us down.
There will always, always be someone who in your weakest moments will be willing to step in and tell you that you are right — You should give up. You aren’t equipped to do this. I told you it wouldn’t work.
Don’t listen. Please, please don’t listen.
It’s OK to be mad
Guilt is such a stinker — it can both pull us backwards, and keep us from being fully open to what’s next.
So don’t let it.
As my friend Denise so wisely puts it: “You get to have a voice too.”
And you shouldn’t feel bad about it.
So let your homeschool voice roar. Even if some days, you are the only one who hears it.
Surround yourself with good
Pull out good movies, good music.
The day after our last homeschool group meeting, I cleaned our entire house. I used lots of essential oils to literally clean the air.
The kids and I have spent many afternoons recently cuddled with good books.
And I’ve had good, heartfelt conversations with the good people in our lives.
I don’t think it’s just a coincidence that as events in our life were unfolding that I read these words written by Heather Caliri:
… persistent negative emotions are like lanterns. They shed light on what’s not working, on things that need to change, on the ways we’re feeling trapped and afraid. They prod us to be honest.”
Good words have been my touchstones lately.
Melissa’s book feels like a guide for starting over to me. And as it read it line by line, I begin to see little glimpses of what could be next.
Just keep moving forward
This may be the very hardest thing of all when overcoming heartbreak. It can be easy to surrender to sweatpants and Oatmeal Scotchies.
But our kids need us to be strong.
They need us to show them that heartbreak happens, but it doesn’t have to stop us.
In fact, heartbreak can help us find what feels right; it can help us discover who we were meant to be.
When my son was very young, he said something funny.
Mom, what is it again? ‘When God closes a door, he breaks a window?’”
Sometimes, it feels a little bit like that, doesn’t it?
But you know what’s cool?
The light still shines in.
Has someone or something ever broken your homeschool heart? What helped you to move on?