Christmas was over. The ceaseless cold set in and once again I dreamed of boarding schools in Switzerland that would take my children until they’re eighteen (or even twenty-one) and send them back as well-mannered functional human beings capable of bringing untold benefits to all of society.
More realistically, as I do every year around that time, I pulled up the websites for local private schools and called the public school for a kindergarten information packet. This year I went so far as to fill out and drop off applications for three of my kids at a local private school, go to an open house, and schedule a meeting with the principal.
Maybe I shouldn’t admit it, but homeschooling can be tedious drudgery. In all the articles that I read telling me I should homeschool, this was never mentioned. I’m tired. I’m worn. Sometimes I want desperately to quit.
I’m no homeschooling newbie; I’ve been at it for eleven years. But, at times it is so much, too much. It defines my life and the person I am. I feel that homeschooling has eclipsed me. I spend all day with my children but wonder if they even know me.
Am I selfish in wanting to pursue dreams so long on hold? I’ve written four novels and published none. I want to sit in a coffee shop sipping mocha as I edit a manuscript instead of worrying about gaps in my kids’ education.
At my third INCH Convention I went to a session by Christine Field entitled “Is it Time for a Change?” She addressed this very issue: throwing in the towel. One thought stuck with me all these years. Christine said (basically), “As much prayer and soul searching should go into your decision to put your kids back into school as went into your decision to take them out in the first place. If you felt led by God to start homeschooling, you need to wait for the same leading to quit.”
This year more than ever I prayed and sought counsel. My friend Linda Hall said, “His will could be a number of things as long as I’m doing them with a clear conscience and covering them in prayer. He can bless a multitude of paths if they aren’t contrary to scripture.”
This was very freeing to me. There isn’t just the one right path which I must somehow decipher, but possibly many.
“But,” I told Linda, “I want to follow the BEST path, God’s best plan. I just can’t figure out what it is.”
The homeschooling path is difficult. It’s work. It’s selflessness. It’s deciding to do for the kids instead of for yourself over and over and over, and it’s a path I finally decided to continue to travel.
Why am I going to continue when it would be so much easier to quit?
Because a path being difficult doesn’t make it the wrong path, and the reasons I began homeschooling in the first place still exist:
- I don’t want to spend eight hours a day missing my kids.
- I think homeschooling will give my kids the best chance to draw close to God. One day I will be held accountable for the choices I made and how those influenced my children’s hearts for (or against) Him.
- I want my kids to learn independence, not to follow the crowd. Homeschooling is making that happen.
- We’re having good results. With two in high school now, we can see that it has actually been working.
- I like taking vacations during the off season and scheduling appointments during the less busy times.
- I like my kids having plenty of time to run wild and free. (Though I do wish they would do it with less mess.)
- I have a lot of great curriculum I’d really like to keep using.
- My kids take care of each other. I don’t think they’d be as close if they were in school.
- The other day my seven year old and five year old spent hours playing with my friends’ (homeschooled) fifteen and nine year olds. Meanwhile my sixteen year old and one of their twelve year olds were hanging out in the next room. I love how with homeschoolers age so often is not an issue.
- My fifteen year old makes me breakfast. He couldn’t do that if I were putting him on a bus every morning.
Anyway, let’s be honest, I’m not really cut out for the school system: the daily commute, packing lunches, and don’t get me started on dress codes. My girls wear an odd array of dress up clothes, leotards, scraps of cloth and blankets every day. I don’t really want them to be stifled into khakis and polo shirts.