Encouragement for Homeschool Moms
from Patti Love Johnson
O.K. You began homeschooling with shaky knees, much prayer, and tentative high hopes about being able to do more and go farther in the educational and character development of your child than the current educational alternatives.
The first thing you noticed was you actually enjoyed your children when you planned time to focus on them. They are pretty neat little people. In fact, you almost feel sorry for those who have not yet discovered that full time Christ directed motherhood is THE MOST REWARDING career you could possibly dedicate your life to. Your children tell you you’re the best teacher/Mommy in the world. You glowl Your little one is actually beginning to sound out words. Hey, this is really working! It all feels so right, so “in the will of the Father.” You are warm and fuzzy all over.
Then it happens.
They wake up grumpy. You wake up grumpy. Not one morning, but all week long. They are falling behind on their work and YOU are the one feeling all the pressure. They tell you ALL their friends get to go to public school. They inform you that they have decided they HATE school. They yell at one another and then in a moment of unguarded frustration, they yell at you. You, in all your godly self-control (not!) yell back. This is NOT how it was supposed to be. You begin to wonder if a stranger would do a better job teaching your child than you are. You wake up too tired for your own quiet time and feel like there is no longer time for Bible and devotion with your children when they are struggling to finish all the other ”mandatory stuff”.
You feel your focus slipping and your enthusiasm waning as you have missed your spiritual nourishment recently. You don’t understand the math teacher’s guide so how can you possibly explain it to your child. You wonder what you were thinking when you thought God wanted you to do this in the first place. You must have misunderstood! You really would like some time to yourself without all the little people in tow. You look in the mirror and realize you haven’t had your hair done, nails done, or even your makeup done the way you used to in far too long. Your friends are all meeting for lunch and shopping and you are on your fourth straight day of Peanut butter, jelly and flash card drills. You pour your heart out to your husband: your doubts, frustrations, concerns, guilt, and trepidation only to have him look at you and say, “I have noticed you have been looking kind of frazzled lately. By the way, since you are home all day with all of this time on your hands, couldn’t you find time to run the vacuum a little more often?” You decide that perhaps he is not going to be the source of encouragement and strength you had hoped for. (My apologies to all the “sensitive” husbands out there, This case in point is a compilation of the experiences of many women, so please, hear me out?) You are beginning to feel like a mix between a martyr, a grump and a frumpy housewife, The Mom-child mix is suddenly clashing rather than meshing.
This homeschool ship is sinking fast and you aren’t even sure if you want to bail the water and try to stay afloat. You are now having warm, fuzzy childhood memories of your childhood school experience. “It can’t be all that bad,” you tell yourself, “I turned out all right.” If you ever felt this way, I applaud you for hanging in there (I assume you hung in there since you are in this service!) If you have never felt this way before, trust me, you will. It is only a matter of time. If you are currently in the boat I referred to a moment ago and the water is pouring in. grab your life jacket throw the oars overboard, hoist the sail and read on.
I have been there, friend. I started home schooling for lots of wonderful, lofty reasons. It did not take very long for my resolve to begin to crumble. I looked around and began to notice all the little leaks in my vessel and they seemed to be getting bigger. At first, I desperately tried to plug all the leaks, but my effort was useless.
Then came the day I threw my hands up, began to sob as I felt the full weight of my failure, and confessed all my frustrations to my God. “I am a failure. I cannot do it, Lord!” Then my sweet, sweet Savior came to me and said, “You are right. You cannot do it. Not in your own power I put you on this boat not so that you could teach your children, but so I could teach you. Your children will never grow in wisdom and knowledge until you do. They will learn and blossom as they see you daily depend on Me. You see, all wisdom, knowledge and virtue comes from Me, not from a text book. And the only way you can possibly hope to train your children is in the same manner I taught people when I walked among them, by LIVING the example.
“My sweet child, I know that this is more than you bargained for. You thought you would be able to find all the answers and explanations in some text book or answer key. You thought your children would be so impressed with (or at least appreciative of, cooperative with) all that you planned and prepared for them. The truth is they will only care when they see how very much you care. Not by your elaborate lesson plans or in-depth knowledge on every subject, but by your moment by moment dependence on Me. If you try to convince your child that you have all the answers, your dishonesty will be quickly discovered. So what is my plan for your homeschool for the godly instruction of the precious children I have entrusted to your care? It is that you be where you are right now. Standing at the crossroads of failure and success, realizing that you can do nothing. Because at this point, you can now make the choice. will you choose to allow ME to teach your child through you? Are you willing to admit you don’t have all the answers, apologize when you “blow it” and more than anything else, point that child to where the answers can be found – in Me? I have given you the best text book of all, my LIVING WORD! And the whole world is the classroom I have prepared for you and your child. You cannot teach your child, but I can leach both of you. Not just the education that the world values so highly, but also the priceless wisdom of my Father.”
As I sat with tears streaming down my face, I realized for the first time that we did not bring my children home to “school them”. Rather, my loving heavenly Father had brought our whole family together so that He could teach us all. And on that day, I threw my oars overboard (for they were what I kept using to try to turn the boat on my own power). And I hoisted the sail and sat back and allowed God to turn the boat in the direction He would send it. And from that day forward, I have seen a new attitude in all of us. And whenever things seem to be getting rough on our little boat, I check myself first. It is often because I am trying to “tell the children” rather than “asking my Father”. From time to time my children try to rock the boat, but if I am relying on Him, I can redirect and correct with quiet confidence rather than near hysterical frustration. And my children respect and respond to godly correction. They are certainly able to discern when I am correcting and training from His word rather than my own frustration.
How about you, my friend? Are you feeling frazzled, burned out, stressed, or ineffective? If you are, consider making tomorrow a teacher’s work day (they have those in every school) and give yourself a time of prayerful renewal and direction. When we seek Him first, He has promised to add the rest. If you are not currently struggling, PRAISE GODI You may want to save this message for the day you need it or pass it along to a friend who needs a verbal hug.
However we choose to educate our children, we must always be mindful that we as parents are the ones who will stand accountable before the Lord for what they were taught, and what they weren’t. May that day find us faithful.
Because He first loved me,
Patti Love Johnson copyright 10-98