Written by Jamie C. Martin, editor of Simple Homeschool
“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
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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
Beautifully Said. I couldn’t agree with you more.
I couldn’t agree with you more. We took the road less traveled as well, in our whole lifestyle, not just in homeschooling. I never look down the other road anymore, because I no longer have a need to compare my life to others. I wouldn’t want it any other way.
I’m sure the other road is lovely, too, but it wasn’t for me.
I agree with your response. Even though we don’t homeschool, I also resonate with the road less traveled. Our lifestyle is unlike most of our peers in that we are open to living almost anywhere in the world. Canada is my fourth country to call home, and as challenging as our life is, I still would not trade our international experiences for home equity and a traditional career path for my husband.
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I know both roads well as we didn’t start down the homeschooling path at first, but crossed over to it much later. Once we had crossed over and discovered the beauty and freedom of moving off the beaten path and discovering our own way, we have never looked back, never wishing to return to the worn down path we were on because now we are on a truly joyful journey we would’ve missed otherwise.
Thank you so much for this beautiful post. We are about 10 weeks in on our new homeschool path and I’m still looking over at the path we just left. I needed this encourament to keep going on our new path and to give it time.
I’m so glad this helped, Christy. Keep moving forward!
I keep looking back too, this is wonderful encouragement. Thank you!
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Beautifully said! It describes our journey as well. Your posts gave me the inspiration to travel the less travelled path! It is getting easier the second year now, less looking back. Love to read your post, esp abt your sweet family.
I love this. Looove it. Beautiful and true.
Beautiful and true for us too. Thank you for putting it into words and reminding me on the hard days.
There is so much truth here.
I also loved the post you referenced on “All Kids Have Special Needs”.
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This was perfect for today. I had one of those rough homeschool days and this just made me smile. Thanks for being an encouragement. 🙂
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I so appreciate your honesty and the way you can also use that to encourage others. What a great testimony of God’s working in your family.
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Beautiful words. I am at the fork in the road at the moment, even though my children have no learning issues as identified yet, I am wanting more for them. I, however, have a big boulder on my homeschooling road, namely my partner and family.
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Thank you for this post. It will be almost a year now that I began homeschooling my son who has special needs. I often find myself looking over my shoulder to make sure that the road more travelled is near, just in case I have to change course. I find that I often feel the need to explain my choice to homeschool, as if it needs explanation, and I still have not even broached the topic on my blog. As we approach a year however, I find myself gaining confidence in our decision to homeschool. I must say that I often find myself stopping by your blog for inspiration. Thank you!
I’ve always loved that Frost poem and it does fit so perfectly for the decision to homeschool. Not everyone understands my decision but I went running down that path embracing the sunshine and freedom. It’s definitely not the easier choice, but it was the right one for my family and I am so glad I have found the strength and courage to carry on despite the questions and doubts of others. Thank you for sharing your perspective on this, it was lovely to read.
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We have this poem memorized! I have been home with my (now) 6-4-2yo for the past three years and we are starting out on our homeschool road little by little. Thanks for the post.
Thank you so much for your honesty. We’re in our first year and I will admit to looking over my shoulder just about every day (and sometimes looking at school websites). But my heart says the same things yours has. I’m thankful to know the “looking back” will lessen as time goes on.
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I really needed to read this today. Thank you so much for posting. This momma’s heart has been soothed and encouraged to keep going down that very path you speak of.
Your post is beautiful and inspirational. Thank you. As someone who tends to do things differently from the norm, sending my daughter to school has been very difficult for me. I always thought I would homeschool, and I may in the future, but for now a good public school is working for us. We did homeschool her for the last half of last year and it didn’t work as well as I had hoped. She entered into 2nd grade at the same level as when we pulled her out, but she’s making progress again. We are in very unsettled circumstances right now, so perhaps when we are able to settle down we can try again. Hopefully.
But as beautiful as Robert Frost’s poem is I feel like it is misunderstood. If you read the beginning of the poem both roads are traveled the same, they look the same at the crossroads. But as with life, we must choose. Agency is a dilemma. And that’s what this poem is about. You really don’t know which each path will hold until you go down one…and then you really won’t ever know what was on that other path, because an individual can only travel one path at a time, not two simultaneously. The author sighs at the end of his life, as if trying to convince himself, that the road he travelled “made all the difference”. Of course it did, because he choose to travel it and not the other. The title of the poem is “The Road Not Taken,” not “The Road Less Traveled.” Whatever path we choose will “make all the difference”.
It is so difficult to make a decision when we really don’t know where the path will lead. But I do believe “all the difference” lies in seeing the beauty in our decision, altering that decision when necessary, and doing our best through the struggles. Not just going against the norm.
Rachel at Stitched in Color
Such a lovely post!
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Your words are as apples of gold in settings of silver… Your words are spoken in right circumstances. Thank you. We have been a homeschooling family for many years now yet this post is so applicable to another area/season of our lives that we are currently journeying through. It’s what I needed to remind my unsettled heart that even though others see our peculiar decisions/choices as “lacking”, God desires us to press on to take hold… It’s He we follow, not the world.
Wonderfully written post and a terrific way to describe the journey. I had not thought about our different vocabulary, but wow! We do have such a different vocabulary. I also love the thought of one baby step at a time! So many people ask how we homeschool, I say, “one day at a time.”
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Thank you so much for this beautifully wriitten post! I have just started homeschooling my adopted son with special needs. We have taken this new path without the school based IEP and it still seems a little scary but wonderfully freeing. He is already sleeping so much better and showing other signs of being less stressed during the day. Thank you for the encouragement that we will see other benefits down this new road.
So beautiful! How wonderful to raise your child in warmth, love and helping them with both their strengths and weaknesses. We are now happily on our third yr of our homeschool journey and looking back to the school path much less! You and your blog/ family gave me the inspiration that I could do this as well
This brought tears of encouragement to my eyes. Thank you so much for your obedience. And for your bravery. I know it’s by His grace you walk, but it’s your journey none the less and please know how greatly it encourages the heart. Bless you
Thanks SO much, Kailey. Bless you and yours, too.
Poetic and wonderful. It’s almost like a marriage or a baptism. You must choose each day to recommit yourself.
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Beautiful words. I love this poem, and you relate it so beautifully to homeschooling! We are 4 years into our homeschooling journey so far and the road less traveled by grows more beautiful everyday.
Thank you so much for sharing your inspiring experience. I have in my hear homeschooling but I am still scared of not being good enough for it ,patient enough, not giving my kids a good enough education ..I am from another country ( Italy) so I am not sure I can give my kids a proper American education ..but on the other hand I hear how much public school lacks in too many aspects…And my first grader son really is not enjoying his first school experience. He looks like he his being slowly” tamed”and his joy for learning is slowing disappearing..
Also I a bit afraid about the social aspect..not letting the kids socializing with their peers at school..Is this a problem fir anybody that homeschool? And about the testing and scoring ,people who homeschool do not have to do them? But then ate ‘t They requested to enter college? Just lots of doubts..I need more advice from homeschooling Moms.
I love this; it speaks to me. I have been on this road less travelled for three years, yet sometimes I find myself looking over my shoulder at the other worn path. Other times I feel that I am trying to walk both roads at the same time and I end up in a ditch of disparities. To wholeheartedly choose the road less travelled, would be a delightfully terrifying yet freeing adventure. For now I’m going to keep walking and enjoy the babbling brooks as they appear, and one day I’ll forget to look back. Thank you for your words of wisdom and encouragement.