I recently sat down with a mother who homeschooled her eight children in the 80s and 90s to hear her incredible story and possibly gain some insight and encouragement. In the end, I gained more information than I was planning on.
But I also gained a mentor and a friend.
And after our conversation, I told her she could have written a book about her life… I actually hope she goes on to do just that. We could all use her advice.
Over tea, she let me in on her backstory –– the dark secrets and the truths she’s held on to for years – the moments she had zero control over that tore her family apart.
You see, her husband had been with roughly 15 other women during her marriage.
She eventually found out about a secret child he conceived with another woman while she was at home, homeschooling their kids.
Then she got a divorce, fought for custody of her children, moved to the Pacific Northwest, took a job and did what she had to do to survive.
Four of her eight children ended up having to go to public school but you could see the tears well up as she told me how she’ll never forgive her ex-husband –– not for his infidelity – oh no.
But for taking away those precious years she could have had at home with her youngest children.
She was able to move on and eventually continue homeschooling but so much time had already been lost. Her younger sweet children were altered forever. Their hearts were broken and left exposed to peers and teachers who didn’t understand and honestly, didn’t care.
As a mother she felt helpless. All she wanted to do was to spend her days with them and tell them she loved them and that everything would be okay.
Thankfully, she’s able to now look back and offer advice to those of us who get to homeschool without all that anxiety, transition and heartbreak.
Yes, this brave woman homeschooled after a tremendous shock and a sorrowful move. She homeschooled even though everything about her family was torn to pieces.
She homeschooled amid major brokenness.
She homeschooled without a partner’s support.
But she homeschooled because she wanted her kids to know their HEARTS where what mattered most.
Our conversation continued to revolve around us, as mothers, educating our children in a world full of uncertainty and darkness threatening to tear us apart as mothers and neighbors while constantly wondering how our children will turn out in the end.
It’s no small task. So amid everything and the heartbreak, what did she focus on?
She focused on what felt natural to her at the time – she loved her kids deeply and helped them pursue their passions.
She didn’t have time for much else.
And you know what? Her children are all doing swimmingly well now. Most of them graduated from college or are currently enrolled in a university or have families of their own. A few of them are now also homeschooling their kids – her grandkids.
Probably more often than not, we question whether we as moms are enough for our kids.
First of all, she assured me (and all of us): You are, in fact, doing it right.
No matter what style you choose, no matter how much or how little time you spend on math and literature and writing and French in any given day, month or year – you’re doing what’s right for YOUR family.
She sympathized with how nowadays, we have too many options. The amount of resources for homeschoolers is completely overwhelming.
We not only battle social pressure but online pressure now as well.
While she didn’t receive the support many of us experience from connecting with other like-minded mamas on social media, my new friend also didn’t have to compete with mega-moms on Instagram and Facebook, or worry she wasn’t including her kids in enough programs or co-ops, and she wasn’t concerned with the amount of hands-on activities she had in her cupboard, or whether she had all the best documentaries downloaded on YouTube.
So mamas, if you homeschool, please consider her plea.
Don’t get caught up in the minutia and details of math and grammar and memorization and facts or what other homeschoolers are doing that you aren’t.
Get caught up in the daily love.
Get caught up in the joy that YES, we GET to do this!
And then let your husband know how much you appreciate him.
Now I think of my new friend when I sink into the our daily rhythm and feel like the daily quicksand of teaching two young kids might suffocate my ability to be a human again.
I think of how she battled to keep her kids close so she could enjoy each and every moment she had with them.
She reminded me to love our kids for who they are now, not for who we think they should or could or might become.
HOLD THEM and tell them you love them a million times a day.
And when it’s time for their wings to grow, they’ll be strong, capable and nearly indestructible.
We can do this.
YOU can do this.
No matter how you do it. Just be YOU and be THANKFUL.
Next time you feel the pressure to be more, to do more, to offer more opportunities to your kids than you ever possibly can. Just know you don’t need a million materials to remind you that you get to be with your kids today.
Because the best thing we can offer our children – bar none – is LOVE.