A friend had mentioned that she was surprised how much she was missing her Kindergartner during the day and my response?
"I could stand to miss Miraclegirl a few hours a week!"
What mother says that!?
And when examined, probably most home schooling moms--for other than a few rare dates in which we leave the children, and the weekly Awana and Sunday school hours, there is no break.
There. is. no. break.
It is a 24 hour, 7 day a week commitment to being with your children, and even for the most attachment parenting minded parents, it can be a lot sometimes.
Not because we're bad parents.
Because we're human parents.
We get tired sometimes. And even doubt we've made the right decision as we briefly linger on imagining what it would be like to send them to school.
In the first three weeks of our home school, the highlights and lowlights have clearly manifest themselves in this decision my husband and I have made.
~ It requires a self-discipline, that frankly sleepless nights due to nursing babes, bed wetting, nosebleeds, nightmares, and our own insomnia, fights every step of the way. Just when it is the most enticing to grab a cup of coffee and curl up with a good book, the hardest subject is at the head of the queue, needing to be taught.
~ As home school Mamas, we often put a higher pressure on our children to do well at their school work because we feel a subconscious need to "prove" to those who aren't fully convinced that we can do it, that we will do it well, and our children will excel at knowledge.
This pressure can result in losing patience and a frustrated--and even broken---child in tears because we are pushing in an area they instead, need to be gently guided and encouraged in.
~ The time factor. If life was already busy and overwhelming, it is even more so now. A good three to five hour chunk of the day is now given to education. Not keeping the house tidy, not hobbies, not social relationships, not books, not baking, not shopping, not even the heartbeat of ministry---but to teaching school.
For the task-oriented mother, this is one of the greatest struggles of all.
~ School is home and home is school.
This is the every-day scenario for approx 180 days out of the year--other than some field trips or co-op days. Even for the homebody, it can feel a bit "stifling" at times to look at the same four walls day in and day out.
~ Did I mention there is no break?
You are now, not only the nurse and maid and cook . . . you are now the teacher.
With no classroom aids.
With no gym break, for you do the gym.
With no lunch break for you fix the lunch and eat the lunch with your student.
There is no break room (unless you count a locked bathroom door as you sob on the floor for a minute before picking yourself up and stepping back into your life.)
When the school day ends, your shift isn't over. It's not the end of the work day. It's simply time to change roles into Mama-only until it begins the next morning.
~ You learn self-discipline. For it to work, you find a new self-control and inner drive to be on top of your game, from menu-planning and learning how to streamline household chores and shopping to realizing just how much time was wasted at the TV and computer because now you don't have it to waste.
Not only is your child learning, you are as well. You are learning about a disciplined, self-controlled, deny-the-flesh, faithful life--because living like that is the only way home school is going to work.
There are no options here. There are no do-overs. This is it. You need to figure it out sooner than later and commit to the every day decisions that kill the flesh and what it would rather do than keep to a school routine.
~ We learn about ourselves as mothers, our wounds and our faults, because of the very things we do wrong in the classroom. We realize we place our own perfection onto our children, we expect them to make us look like a success, our patience needs refining, our gentleness and encouragement needs growth.
Without the home classroom and what transpires within it, these realizations would take longer to reveal themselves in our lives and would linger in the necessity of them being dealt with.
~ The time factor.
There are no books to place on a child's head to stop their growth, though we often threaten it. They are growing and they will soar into the world tomorrow. This is our time with them. Our beautiful, precious golden time.
Instead of being apart from them 6-7 hours a day, we are with them, watching first-hand as they develop and grow. We get to be the ones to pull them onto our lap as they cry in frustration. We get to see the light bulb moments when they come. We get to watch their animated faces as they learn. We get the hugs at the end of the day with the "You're the best teacher ever Mommy!" We get to saturate them in a Biblical world view, even as they are exposed to the world as we do afternoon shopping or attend swim at the Y with those who do not share our faith or a book from the library introduces a concept that is not in line with that which we hold to.
We're going to release them soon. Until we do, we get the moments that someone else would get if they were in school.
~ School is home and home is school. . .
~ It's a second chance education for us. What we didn't appreciate back in the day, or didn't grasp, is now being presented to us again, even as we study it in order to teach, and this time our adult mind gets it and we appreciate the knowledge more. We now realize how precious knowledge is and we embrace everything we missed during our school years.
We find our own minds quickening and sharpening, even as we review the material to present to our children and a renewed love for learning.
~ The clincher?
We live in the peace that we know that we know, we are doing exactly what God called us to do. Even when faced with criticism for teaching at home, even when faced with doubts that we can do it, even when the brief daydream tempts us to go down to the local school that afternoon and enroll our child, we step back, evaluate in prayer (and often with tears), and come away with the knowing this is what God has laid out before us and there is a sweet peace that only can come from doing His will, as difficult as it is.
The times of wishing I could miss Miraclegirl and locking myself in the bathroom to escape for two minutes, are going to come. They are inevitable. So are the moments of feeling as if there is more to do than I have time for and that I just am not going to be able to do all that I have on my plate. And the, "I need a break!!!" will probably occur at some point daily.
That's ok. It's part of being a very human, home schooling Mama. A Mama, who if given the choice, wouldn't change what she's doing even in the midst of the exhausted, frustrated tears---because she has heard the words in her ears, "This is the way, walk ye in it" and have claimed, "He who called you is faithful to perform it."
*Isaiah 30:21; I Thessalonions 5:24