Living in a house with five (F-I-V-E — I need one scoop of coffee grounds in my french press for each kid)
loud, in-your-face megalomaniac dictators hell bent on driving me to drink more coffee sweet, precious children is an exercise in grace and patience.
I say these things every day more than I care to count:
“Eat your food.”
“Be quiet, the baby is sleeping.”
“Do your schoolwork.”
“Use the interrupt rule, please.”
“Why is that Lego in your mouth?”
Sometimes I mix them up. “Eat your food!!!” I
yell say, while the children are flapping their gums and not doing their schoolwork. Then they errupt in giggles and we start back up at square one with getting them to focus.
Oh, Lord Jesus, have mercy.
Why did I WILLINGLY sign up for this?? Why do I torture myself day in and day out and continue this circus act? Welcome to the life of a homsechool mom.
See, I know it’s like this in other homes, too. Just those “other” homeschool moms don’t want to admit it. Because if we don’t say things are awesome, and beautiful, and every day is wonderfully filled with obedient, grateful, cheerful children and a super content, put-together mommy, and rainbows are perpetully shooting out of the room and unicorns prance around endlessly, we feel like a failure.
Yeah. I know it. All the other homeschool mommies out there are also yelling at their kids to focus and stay on task. They’re probably still in jammies at lunchtime and have spitup on their shirt, too. And their hair hasn’t seen a brush in a million years either. Oh, I know it. I KNOW these things.
At the risk of discouraging those of you who are remotely thinking about it, I’d like to give you a super transparent, VIP pass, fly-on-the-wall kind of glimpse of our homeschooling journey. Then you get to decide if this is your kind of rodeo. And those of you who already homeschool, take heart. I speak your language.
At this moment, I have three kids in school. THREE. That means three different, separete, unique human beings learning three different, separate, unique things. AT. THE. SAME. TIME. It’s exhausting.
My oldest is nine. He’s currently doing fourth grade stuff. Difficult kind of fourth grade. “Difficult” because it’s stuff I didn’t know. Like how to diagram a sentence. Or long division. Really, that’s just hard. For me. He’s pretty much on his own with school, but I do explain things to him and teach him new material (from the teacher manual) when he comes up to it. I find myself “reading” the teacher manual script sometimes going, “Whaaaa???” and then I’ll ask him the scripted questions off the book and he’ll answer them correctly. Man, I friggin ROCK at teaching this subject I have no clear understanding of! HA! My second is seven. She’s blazing through second grade when she decides to focus and finish her stuff. She’ll literally sit down to do schoolwork at 9:00 a.m., and still not be done by dinnertime. She’s my current drive-me-to-drink-more-coffee child. She’s able. She’s soooooooo able. She just doesn’t wanna. We tend to skip through stuff with her just becuase she understands it. She’s bored, I know it. But we’re working on obedience and diligence with her more than just school. It’s tough, y’all. Then there’s my third. She’s five and has begged and begged and begged to start first grade. So she’s in first grade. And she’s learning to read and add and subtract, and she loves loves loves loves school. She would sit and do school forever and ever amen if I let her. I guess she makes up for her big sister.
That’s how we roll.
Here’s the deal: it’s hard work. It’s SUCH hard work. There are days (more often than not) that I want to quit and give up and send those kids off to public school. There are days that I have to just go outside for a mommy time-out. There are times when I realize how far outside my expectation this homeschooling journey has been.
I bought into the lie that it was going to be rainbows and unicorns; that well-groomed, content children would quietly sit and learn; that I was going to be the Mother Theresa example of humility and kindness and patience and self-control.
It’s not. It’s not like that at all.
But see, the main reason why I continue to homeschool despite how utterly difficult and exhausting it is, is because it pushes me. I pushes me to really get to know each of my children: what they like and don’t like, how they learn, what motivates them, where their heart is, what their hurts are. It pushes me to mother them, 24/7. I’m not only their mother, I’m their teacher. And so their education is also my responsibility. I don’t get to rely on Mrs. So-and-so from Such-and-such Elementary School.
Homeschooling pushes me to be a better person. I’ve caught my feisty #2 yelling at her siblings many times. And she sounds horrible. She sounds just like me. It’s awful, this mirror image of a crazed, hysterlical woman. She is pushing me to be better than that, to deal with the difficulties in life with more grace, with more patience, with more Jesus.
And so we continue this circus act because this is where the Lord has us, this is the life we’ve been blessed with. And truth be told, it’s not always hard. There are days like diamonds in the rough that scream awesomness and bad-assery and rainbows and unicorns. Yep, those days are like the pictures of beautiful, hair-combed, smiling children properly sitting at a desk joyfully completing their schoolwork and their proud mommies standing next to them with a content, peaceful smile. Those glossy pictures from the homeschool curriculum catalogs? We’ve had a handful of those days. Sometimes it’s a fleeting moment. But they’re there like the elusive unicorn. But as my hubster always reminds me, anything worth doing is going to be tough.
Ain’t that the truth?
Homeschooling and parenting are like building cathedrals. Beautiful, strong, tall buildings where the weak and weary can come and find rest, peace, comfort, and where God dwells. That’s what we’re building.
If we are steadfast and do things right, and by the grace of God, our children will one day become big, beautiful cathedrals, oozing the greatness and majesty and awesomeness of God. But building cathedrals is tough, and those builders who spent entire lifetimes chipping away at rock rarely ever got to see their life’s work complete. So we chip away at our own flaws — and our children’s — and mold and perfect ourselves to be more cathedral-like.
If we were comfortable, we would take it for granted. If it was easy, we wouldn’t be transformed. If we weren’t pushed, there would be no great purpose. And if it wasn’t difficult, it wouldn’t be worth doing. That’s why we homeschool, and why we stick with it when the going gets tough. Well, really there are a bunch of other reasons. But that’s for another discussion.
Anyhoo, in the future I’m going to add several more posts on homeschooling, specifically our year-round school schedule. Why not take a moment to subscribe, that way you won’t miss it? 😉