Hi. My name is Hala…and I’m a homeschooler.
There. I said it. It’s out.
The truth of the matter is, I never really wanted to homeschool. I’ve always admired it. Supported it. Defended it. But, it wasn’t a path I had any desire to go down myself. But alas, after many trials and heartache, here I am – homeschooling. I would love to say it was because I felt strongly about so many of the reasons homeschoolers choose it – the flexibility, the control, wanting to spend more time with their children, wanting more opportunities to provide hands on learning, etc. But in reality, this was a last resort of sorts.
My oldest was struggling in school. He was strong in some areas, maybe even “smart” by some standards, but he had definite weaknesses in others. Yet regardless of those strengths, the only thing anyone (including myself) could focus on was his difficulty transitioning, adjusting, and conforming to the norms expected in a typical classroom. He needed more attention than any school we tried could give him, and when he didn’t get it, the end result was a lot of stress for him, for me, and for his teachers.
I found myself emotionally exhausted. Our interactions were becoming more and more negative. I was constantly cast in the role of “getting him to work”, disciplining, etc. and after a while, it become a job – a chore really, and we found ourselves caught in a loop of negativity. I had forgotten what my child was like on a good day.
We kept looking for other options and kept coming back to homeschooling. After a lot of soul searching and Istikhara (prayer for guidance), I decided to take it on.
So here I am homeschooling. Me. I still can’t believe it sometimes. It’s been a roller coaster of sorts. I used to dream of the day when all my kids would be in school and I would get “myself” back. And yet, here I was, willfully and consciously, taking a “step back” with regard to myself in order to take a step forward for my son.
I know once I’ve gotten my groove, and found a rhythm, I can fit my own projects back into my life - maybe. But right now, I need to be a mother. I need to put my children’s needs before my own, and find the path that works best for our family. It’s humbling to have to stop and step back, and rearrange your priorities- to put yourself second. But, to my surprise, in exchange, I’ve gotten back the funny quirky kid that I’ve missed for so long. The kid who used to love to learn before learning became “work”. The kid who laughed the most beautiful laugh for 10 minutes straight when I asked him, “True or False, the Qur’an was sent in Chinese.” (“Mama! the Qur’an isn’t in Chinese!”) I found myself laughing with him, and in that moment, completely overwhelmed by just how beautiful he was, masha’Allah.
Allah truly doesn’t take one thing without giving you another in its place – something more beautiful - and better for you. I needed to be reminded of that – to have faith and to trust in Allah’s plan for me.
This new experience has been therapeutic in some ways. I see the good and the bad, rather than having the negative constantly taking center stage, and that in and of itself is a gift – to see your child as a whole person.
The good news is, that in some ways, life is more relaxed. No deadlines. No expectations other than our own. Yes, it is a lot of work and I’m not even referring to the academics. That’s actually the easy part. But spending that much time with your children, no matter how much you love them, is emotionally exhausting. But nothing is perfect – nor should it be. A little struggling makes us all a bit stronger and a bit more thoughtful, and much more humble insha’ Allah, regardless of the path one chooses. On the bright side, there are more and more mothers finding strength and empowerment by having homeschooling as an option. For the mother’s like me, it’s an option when you feel like you have none – and a surprisingly great one at that.
Hala is a full-time mom of 3 boys, homeschooler, occasional blogger, avid reader, closet superhero junkie, tea-enthusiast, chocolate-eater, aspiring foodie and founder of the Muslim Mom Network. She resides with her family in NJ.