The Hardest Decision I’ve Made as a Homeschooling Mom

kids crayons

 

I have a confession. For months, I’ve felt uncertainty, uneasiness, and just a general sense of feeling unsettled. I haven’t been able to pinpoint the exact reason why I felt discontent toward our future.

After all, everything seemed to be fine. Fine at home. Fine at the farm. Fine at church. Fine at school. Until I realized I wanted more than fine. We’ve been in a season of change, constantly adjusting to a new schedule and it’s been hard. I can hardly keep up with the changes and my stress left a strain on my family but I didn’t want to be just fine anymore.

I pushed for excellence from myself and everyone around me. I found it difficult being a working homeschooling mom, trying to teach our children while simultaneously watching the twin toddlers and assisting our farm customers. I lost count of how many times I heard, “All these kids are yours?”

A polite smile hid the hurt that my heart felt when I just wanted to put my head in my hands and wail, “Yes! My hands are full! My heart is full! My life is insane!” But I didn’t.

THE COMPARISON CHECK

Day after day we struggled through our schoolwork, shifting our schedule to accommodate the farm work. And day after day, we fell further behind despite my insistence that we stay ahead because that’s what homeschooling moms do. They stay ahead, striving for academic excellence so their children outperforms their public school peers, testing grades ahead of where they should be.

The pressure to join the ranks of these perfect homeschooling moms cracked me and left me in a bad place. I felt less than them. Why couldn’t we manage to finish our lessons at noon much less excel at them and then fill our afternoons with golf lessons, violin or singing lessons, boy and girl scout troop meetings, gymnastics, and horseback riding?

That’s what my friends did.

So why was I unable to do all these things they were doing?

Sure, our kids can cook at age six and do their own laundry at age five because that’s how moms of big families manage–by teaching responsibility and teamwork at an early age. We survive. I wanted to thrive–in every area–but it wasn’t working.

We excelled at life lessons but not academics. The same child who helped in the kitchen had a hard time reading. Math didn’t click for the girl who could do her own laundry. Science was fun for everyone but mama who stayed up late the night before trying to make sense of a subject she isn’t fond of.

The summer flew by and countless friends asked what homeschool curriculum we chose for the fall. They wondered if we would rejoin a co-op and jump back into sports or the girls’ scouting troop.

I couldn’t answer them. I didn’t know what we were doing for the fall or if we would even continue homeschooling. I couldn’t order next year’s curriculum when we hadn’t mastered the concepts from the previous year.

So I stopped answering their questions because I didn’t know what we would do. Was sending them to public school a choice? Was it the best choice? After all, we couldn’t very well send them to a private school because they were all ours and the cost exceeded the budget.

The intense anxiety I experienced when I was pregnant with the twins returned. Late at night, I lay awake, desperate for a deep breath and a plan. No matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t breathe deeply. My stomach was in knots and my mind refused to rest. What were we supposed to do? Public or private or homeschool? And would this decision affect them for the rest of their lives?

After much prayer and fruitlessly searching the Scriptures for a verse that said, “Amanda, this is what you shall do,” the answer became clear and obvious.

Repeat last year.

What?!?! That was definitely not even an option at all. Next year’s curriculum was already in my online shopping cart and the arrow hovered over the checkout button. Repeat last year? Like, start over?

That would mean I’d failed.

MOVING FORWARD

But the more I thought about it, the more it appealed to me. I’ve always said we won’t move on until we’ve mastered each concept so this was clearly becoming the perfect answer.

And just when I felt most like a homeschool mom failure, I received a package in the mail. Eagerly I tore into it and out fell a black t-shirt with the words, “You are enough.”

I was enough. The anxiety I’d felt all summer melted away. I felt like God himself reached down and hugged me letting me know I wasn’t a failure and this wasn’t a bad choice to repeat last year.

That evening, as I continued studying the creation of the earth in Genesis, these words stuck out more so than ever before.

And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness, and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps upon the earth. So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him, male and female created he them. Genesis 1:26-27

These are verses I’ve read dozens of times and heard countless times growing up in church but this time it hit me. I was created in God’s own image. I wasn’t less than any other mom. I wasn’t a failure. I was created in God’s own image and so were you.

And in verse 31, we read that God saw everything he’d created, including man and woman created in his own image, and it was very good. Not just good. Very good.

I don’t know about you but I desperately need that reminder on a daily basis that I’m enough and valued and created in God’s own image.

REFLECTION

Maybe you’re a fellow homeschooling mom and you struggled through last year too. Why don’t you consider a re-do? If you do, you can be sure you’re not a failure. You are enough.

Maybe you homeschooled and decided this year, your kids will attend public school or private school. It’s a change and not without an adjustment period, but guess what? You’re not a failure if you stop homeschooling. You are enough.

Maybe you’re not a homeschooling mom at all and you just read this because you’re curious, but you’ve struggled with some things this year. Please hear me –you are enough. On those long days when you feel like quitting, you are enough. On those days when you serve your family another dinner of cereal because you have no energy left, you are enough. When you choose fried over grilled or chocolate over fruit, you are enough. When you say no to your kids because you cannot possibly run them to yet another sporting event, you are enough.

You are enough.

Nothing you can do changes the fact that we were created in God’s own image so when you hit those hard places this week, let the words from Genesis fill your soul knowing that you are a very good creation and you are enough.