To Homeschool or Not? A Snapshot of Peace.

Last week was the big back to school week around here.  Every time I checked facebook I saw adorable photos of children in Catholic school uniforms (and some without) smiling and marking the milestone.  As a homeschooling mom, I felt just a tad bit jealous.  Not that taking a cute back to school shot is a reason to send your child to school (it isn’t)…but I thought about all these moms with less kids on their hands, moments of quiet as babies and toddlers took afternoon naps, time to do food shopping with just the baby or toddler, and I felt just a little bit jealous.  I was drinking my morning coffee is chaos, as three children asked me questions at once and two more children cried and threw things and disrupted big kids trying their best to learn.  As I reheated my cup of coffee for the second time (which is gross), I felt the pressure of another school year, and the pressure of responsibility for my childrens’ education.  I felt the pressure of a job unfinished, a job newly begun.

It isn’t as though teaching elementary school children is complicated — it isn’t.  But it certainly wears on your patience.  It requires discipline, consistency, and passion.  I felt in short supply of all three last week and it was only the beginning of September.

And then on Friday as I was doing the dishes after lunch, I looked out the kitchen window and saw this.

What back to school looks like around here.

And I was reminded of why I homeschool.  My heart suddenly felt very grateful that on a beautiful, crisp fall day, my children were learning like this.  And all the doubts and jealousy suddenly departed.  God, my Father, handed me a special grace, a confirmation of my vocation as a homeschooling mother of 5 young children.  The grass in my own backyard is actually pretty great, and I had a front row seat to its beauty.

In today’s digital world, it is so easy to think that the grass of our friends and family members and acquaintances is greener.  But it isn’t.  That cute kid in the Catholic school uniform — his mom was filling out a lot of forms last week.  And she was signing up for lots of things at school that she thinks are a huge waste of time.  Life is full of tradeoffs.  And we all have to discern and then make hard choices.  And after we have made those choices, we can’t spend time wishing we had the best of someone else’s world.

I know you all know this, but it is easy to forgot.  And I’ll forget it again too.  Come February, I will start thinking and praying about sending my children to school.  I may even call around and crunch tuition numbers and spend hours talking to my husband about it. So yeah, it’s complicated.  And with a decade of parenting under my belt, I know that the moment I start to think I’ve got it all figured out, God will throw me a curveball.  But on Friday he threw me a sweet fastball.  And I nailed it.  And I even have a photo to remember how it felt.

 

  • Kat0427

    I love this photo of your children, Kellie! You’re right, it’s all about trade-offs, and we reevaluate our choices every year as well. Thanks for a great post!

  • Mrs Gregory

    “The great thing, if one can, is to stop regarding all the unpleasant things as interruptions of one’s ‘own,’ or ‘real’ life. The truth is of course that what one calls the interruptions are precisely one’s real life — the life God is sending one day by day.”

    I don’t have school-aged kids yet, but I delight in this quote as I potty-train, change diapers, read little books when I want to read big ones, etc.

  • Kathleen

    If it makes you feel better there is something worse than sending kids to school or homeschooling, it’s called doing both. I’ve got both those forms, volunteer jobs at school in addition to the lessons at home with toddlers wreaking havoc. It’s crazy, but somehow it’s sort of working. Great thoughts here!

    • http://www.buildingcathedrals.com/ Kellie

      I did both for the last 2 years, and this is my first year with all 5 at home. That’s how I know about the paperwork and volunteer assignments!

    • Mary Alice

      Kathleen, I am in the same boat for the first time this year — boy, is it tough! I think it will get easier, but these first few weeks of homeschooling and getting the school kids on a routine, plus forms, is wiping me out. I think that ultimately the ones at home will benefit from the structure imposed by the school schedule. We have to be up and organized most days, and that is all good.

      • Bethany

        Alice, I think this idea here strikes at the heart of most of my wannabe-homeschooling fears–sticking to a schedule and getting our act together enough to learn. I know if I got serious about it, we might be better at keeping to a schedule. I can see how having some on a school schedule would definitely keep the rest of the crew honest! But wouldn’t be easy either!

        • Donna

          This is my first year to have my older two go to school and the others are home with me. I definitely think the getting up early and having to be ready to run has helped our homeschool get going (okay- helped ME get going, which made homeschool get going), but the trade off is that in the afternoon when I was usually completely done with all school now I have the big kids coming home with homework. But so far- I am still extremely happy we went to school this year.

          • Mary Alice

            totally, Donna, I now feel like I am really “on” from 6 am to 9 pm. When big kids want to talk to you about what they learned in health class, you have to be there to listen. Overall, it is the best situation for all of our kids, but it is taking a lot out of us right now.

    • Cotswoldsrose

      Me, too! That’s what I dealt with for a few years, now, and it’s crazy. But not this year; all are in school, except for my 4-year-old.

  • MaryAnn Gaffney

    Hey Alice, I read your article and I loved it! As a homeschooling mom of five I know that it can be stressful at times, but I must say that your photo says why it’s so worth it! Keep up the good work.

  • buildingcathedralstexasmommy

    Awesome!! Definitely bookmark to come back to on those other days! I often get so caught up in getting it done that I miss the sweet moments!

  • qpillari

    Thank you! I just started homeschooling this year, and this is exactly what I needed to hear! God Bless you!

  • Juris Mater

    When I see YOU sunbathing in your yard with a margarita while your children are working in the schoolroom, I’ll be sold.

    • Bethany

      I just want to say that I’ve been living the long-awaited dream–sunbathing for 15min. increments the last week to erase tan lines for a bridesmaid dress. Every time I sit down to do it, I think, “This is not really happening, is it?!” I am incredulous and so happy! Small moments for a mom!

  • Cotswoldsrose

    Cherish every minute! I had to give up homeschooling this year after eight years, probably for good, and it’s a very painful transition. God has blessed us with a good school alternative, but I sure wish I was in your place.


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