As mothers of young children, who doesn’t look forward to that day our youngest child starts kindergarten and you can send all your little ducklings off to school for the day and *sigh* enjoy using the bathroom without interruptions? The list of things I imagined myself getting done during that time was long and I got giddy just thinking about it. Of course I would shed the traditional tears on the first day of kindergarten, but goodness, it would be a small price to pay. Let freedom ring!
Children are taxing. To nurture and discipline them requires a lot of energy and sacrifice. That’s just the way it is. Sure, there are women out there who would disagree, you know, those women who were wired to be the perfect mom with patience and long suffering radiating all about them (and the rest of us try not to hate them). But for the rest of us, motherhood is a continual struggle.
Homeschooling was not in my future plans when I dropped my oldest off for his first day of kindergarten. I was doing exactly what society expected of me. I wanted to be that amazing mom that teachers loved. I wanted to see my children thrive in school. It would be a testament of my awesomeness!
Not so. That little dream began to chip away the first time I felt it. It was that feeling you get when you know something just isn’t right or good for your child. The first time I felt it was during my first parent teacher conference. The teacher told me that Eli had a hard time following all the rules and was a little too rambunctious. He didn’t stay in line and liked to interact with others too much. I felt sad at this news. Not because Eli was being the imperfect child, but because of the conformity the classroom setting required of him…for SIX hours of the day! It just felt wrong. I was almost rooting for him, “Don’t conform Eli, be a yourself!”
Having twenty to thirty children in a group to be managed by one or two adults (who have known the children for a small period of time) is simply not a natural situation. Obviously it would require children to comply to an unnatural standard of stillness, quietness, and conformity that is beyond their years.
There were many other things that continued to chip away at my dreams of freedom and relaxation. But what was my alternative? Homeschool was that fanatic thing people did when they wanted to shelter their children from the world. It was for parents who tended to be ignorant, afraid, and closed minded (so I thought). Most of the children I knew who were homeschooled where indeed socially awkward. Besides, I was already having trouble keeping up with my parental duties, how could I add more?
Fast forward a year and a half and I’m sitting in a meeting with Eli’s first grade teacher trying to explain why I don’t think public school is what is best for him academically while she is trying to talk me out of it. I felt terrified of what trials the future would bring because of this decision. I felt like there was a mountain of expectations on my shoulders. I was afraid of failure and worried about what people would think.
If I could only go back in time and give myself a little pep-talk. I would say: “You’ve got this girl. You are doing EXACTLY what is right for your family. Yes, it will be hard and there will be tears but the rewards will be far beyond what you can imagine. You will have extra time with your children to learn how to be a better parent. You will whittle TV time down to a few hours a week and watch your kids figure out how to entertain themselves. Your circumstances will require you to transform into a more disciplined person. You will see miracles in your life as you witness God’s grace make up for your weaknesses. Most importantly, you will have more time to build a relationship with your children.
I homeschool because it is what’s right for OUR family. Is it for every family? No. I’m glad I had the courage to dive into the unknown. It has been hard but worth it!