Written by Jamie Martin of Simple Homeschool and Steady Mom
Instead of focusing on giving our children a complete education, or a perfect education (neither of which are necessary or possible), let us strive to awaken in them a love of learning. If we can help them to develop an attitude of lifelong learning, we will have done enough.” ~ Suzie Andres, Homeschooling with Gentleness
There’s a homeschooling mom who lives in my head, and she is simply THE best.
She does all the things and does them well. As a result, her kids progress in a straight, forward-moving line. She is organized, unfazed by emotion, doubt, outward circumstance, or moody children.
She is my hero, though I also despise her.
I am not that woman. Oh every once in a while, I come close. The stars align and the inspiration flows…for a few hours, maybe a day or two. But inevitably real life signals to me from the sidelines: “Remember me?!”, and here we go again…back into the realm of imperfections and inadequacies.
Yet incredibly, even then I’m still on track.
When real life comes along with tough times, it’s not THE best I give to my children, but it’s MY best all the same.
Are you crossing a field or climbing a wall?
Photo by Nicholas_T
My friend Lisa Grace Byrne once described this distinction in a way I could beautifully visualize. She explained that in certain seasons of life it’s like we’re walking through a flat, grassy field. We cover a lot of ground that way, making measurable progress one step at a time.
In other seasons, we reach the borders of the field to find a steep, rock wall towering before us. Turning back isn’t an option, and the only way to continue moving forward is to climb–one slow, shaky grip and foothold after another.
It’s still progress, of course, but it looks nothing like the grassy field.
The best we can offer our families in the meadows of life varies drastically to the best we bring when we’re scaling walls.
For the past couple of weeks I’ve been climbing, and I know I’m not the only one.
Your personal best
Photo by Adam Kubalica
God hasn’t called us to be successful, just faithful.” ~ Mother Teresa
Your personal best looks different every day, every hour.
It looks different if you’re facing a chronic health condition or recently had a newborn, if you just started homeschooling and you’re still finding your way, if you have a child with special needs or a teen with an attitude, or if you’re dealing with the loss of someone you love.
We’re not called to give up when things get hard, but we do have to play the cards we’ve been dealt–whatever that looks like in our unique circumstances.
You know inside that what you’re offering really is the best you have to give, however inadequate it may seem. If it is, what else can you do? Why not fall into the arms of grace and rest?
What’s your other choice?
What to remember
When you worry about tomorrow, you are, in effect, saying that today is not worth enjoying. That is not a message I want to send to my children.”
~ Sally Clarkson, Seasons of a Mother’s Heart
In rock wall-climbing seasons, I return to my favorite homeschooling books. I look through where I’ve underlined or written “Wow” in the margins. I feast on truth instead of self-doubt. I’ve scattered a few of those quotes throughout this post, to pay the inspiration forward.
It also helps me to remember, in times like these, that all conscientious parents feel a weight of insecurity and responsibility–no matter where their kids go to school.
One time I wrote out my deepest fears for each of my kid’s educations. Then I wrote out what my fears would likely be if my children were in traditional school. I found it incredibly freeing to realize that doubts and fears would still exist, though the specifics might differ.
Take a moment to remind yourself of all that your personal best, as limited as it is, has already offered to your kids. What are you giving them by homeschooling or by being their parent, that they wouldn’t have without you?
Perhaps you began homeschooling because of bullying, and now your son is safe from daily torments. Perhaps the classroom was overstimulating for your sensitive daughter, now she’s slowly returning to the happy child you remember.
It doesn’t have to be that dramatic, though. Your personal best also includes your natural strengths, the things you’re so good at you no longer count because they seem “normal.”
But normal for you isn’t normal for everyone–don’t disregard those gifts. Instead build your homeschool around them when you can, letting your best stamp personality across your home:
To become peaceful and happy, you’ve got to figure out what’s true about you. What creates an environment in which you can thrive? How can you work with your own innate strengths and weaknesses so that your homeschool will be happy and humming, even if you never construct a sugar cube pyramid or help your kids put together a single diorama?”
~ Sarah Mackenzie, Teaching from Rest
THE best homeschooling blog writer (who also lives in my head–it’s so crowded in there at times!!) would offer you these words in a few well-organized bullet points, complete with a lovely, colorful printable that she designed herself.
But MY personal best, today, is to send out these scribbles with a prayer for each person who reads them.
When we really consider it, isn’t that what we need most? Not an expert who knows it all, but someone to walk alongside us, to say “it is hard sometimes, you’re right.”
Someone to encourage us to keep right on climbing.
Come to think of it, isn’t that the type of teacher our kids need, too?
If you enjoyed this post, check out Jamie’s new book, Introverted Mom: Your Guide to More Calm, Less Guilt, and Quiet Joy.
And if that’s the case, miraculously our broken best might just be THE best after all.
Then it dawned on me. It wasn’t the meager five loaves and two fish that fed the crowds, but their offering combined with the blessing of Jesus. And Jesus was telling me to give him my five loaves and two fish, my insignificant efforts, and he would bless them, and the needs of my family would be met.”
~ Holly Pierlot, A Mother’s Rule of Life
What kind of wall are you currently climbing? If you need prayer, please leave a comment here. I’ll make it a priority today to pray for each one of you by name. Keep giving it YOUR best, whatever that looks like in this moment!