The Gift of Homeschooling

 

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I have never been the mom that celebrated my kids returning to school. I hate waking up early, making lunches that inevitably came home uneaten. And despite all my best intentions, the morning hustle usually ends with me yelling at my highly distracted kids to get out the bloody door.

I also just really like having them home with me.

I love the easy pace of summer.

Last September came like a storm. Instead of my kids happily going off to school, I found myself homeschooling. I don’t do well with a sudden change of plans. I like well thought out decisions. I like to research. Plan. Then thoughtfully make my decisions.

But during our little up-heaval, I began to feel led to homeschooling, which I thought, was utterly ridiculous. Having dropped out of junior high, I was pretty sure I would be leading my middle schooler into a future of flipping burgers in a fast food joint.

There was also this. I have been battling depression for the last few years, and although I never liked sending my kids back to school, a part of me had been feeling they would be better served. I was beginning to doubt myself as a good mom. With them back in school I could then commence with sticking my head in the ground and hiding. But,the idea of homeschooling began to feel like a second chance. My kid needed me. Maybe, I could take back what I felt depression had stolen.

When we made the decision to homeschool I had never felt so ill-equipped and unprepared in my life.  Despite being terrified, I said yes, and my life felt like it began again. I had that sense of it being so much bigger then I could imagine. But, there were no breaks from the bickering, quarreling. The moodiness of my hormonal tween was defeating me. If it wasn’t for his happiness in our decision to homeschool, I would have happily dumped him at school some days (we still have those days).

In my decision to homeschool, I had also met with a lot of resistance from those close to me. My ability was doubted, my intentions were questioned. I realized a lot of the doubt I was hearing was echoing my own fears. I knew some of the closest people to me felt I was ruining Owen’s life. I was one of them. That was depressing.

I tried to make up for my fear by hyper-scheduling Owen’s day. We were up by 7:30 am and hitting the books by 8:30. I packed so much nonsense into his day. He was miserable and so was I. I tried to overcompensate my fear by trying to give him an education above what he would receive in traditional school. I was trying to out-do teachers with years of education. I felt lost and knew despite my efforts; I was missing what was important. This was about me and my kids.

I pleaded with God to help me. And in the desert, I found water.

My eyes began to open to what mattered.

Owen and Oliver cuddled up on the couch together READING. I saw their brotherhood tightening. I had often worried with their seven year age gap, that they would not grow up close. The last year has allowed these two to bond in ways I could not have seen.  I see them being kind to one another. It’s enough to outweigh the bickering.

The last year has brought a lot of  tears. Arguments. I didn’t understand why Owen could not sit still when I was teaching him. So while he slept, I googled. I discovered Owen is a kinetic learner. He needs to move to learn. Our school system doesn’t allow for moving and learning. (I get why.) I began to understand why school made him feel miserable.

I learned to sit down with Owen. Stop filling him with “busy” and we began to  share “aha” moments together. There is something amazing about seeing the light go on in your child’s eyes. When the impossible math problem suddenly becomes simple.

Some days, school for my family means spending the day in our pyjamas, my bed becoming a nest as we snuggle and learn together. These days are filled with giggles and closeness. They are so good for my mama soul.

Some days we wake up and decide it’s a great day for a day off.

I gave up my ridiculous schedule the last term of the year. We get up when we are ready. We eat breakfast. And then we do what needs to be done. I got rid of all the busyness I was using to overcompensate for my fear of failure.

I feel like my life is one big summer now. For the first time ever this year, I found myself looking forward to school starting. There wouldn’t be backpacks and dreaded uneaten lunches.

We eat breakfast in pyjama’s, and create learning nests in mom’s bed. There are brotherly cuddles and reading books. There are time outs, and tears. There are “I’m sorry’s” and heart to hearts.

It’s not perfect. But it is what my family needs.

I’ve discovered that in a season where I felt incapable, God has made me able. I wanted to hide, and God reminded me of the most important task he had given me. The one already in my hands. My children.

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