The end of this school year was awful! It was not what I had wanted it to be, and I felt like a failure.
I was homeschooling two elementary students and my special needs daughter with my preschooler always present. I also had a son catching the bus early to a private school, plus a middle schooler and a high schooler doing cyber at home, plus two adult children going in and out.
I love being home with my children and I enjoy homeschooling. I am thrilled to investigate new wonders or to travel to storybook worlds with my children. My joy is complete when they are thrilled right along with me!
We started in the early summer, so we took our laid-back time. We enjoyed field trips, reading books, and doing whatever we wanted. How I adored homeschooling then!
In the fall we settled into a good routine with the Pledge of Allegiance, prayers, Bible reading, flashcards, workbooks, and reading out loud to each other. The children were excited to have new workbooks, and they worked happily beyond what I assigned each day.
However, as the year went on, we got a little tired. I should say that I felt exhausted, and the children felt bored. We took a break from the normal routine for Christmas and studied Swedish customs, food, and Kristen, an American Girl from Sweden. In early spring I took a week and a half off, hoping that I would regain my joy and strength.
The problem was life kept on going with all the same errands and doctors’ appointments to attend to. I love being at home with the children. I despise giving up that time to get the necessary things done. Somehow, I had scheduled more appointments than usual right before our evaluations this year. Other events popped up and accomplishing days toward our required 180 became like feats of great strength.
“It will be fine. It always works out,” I kept telling myself.
Still, I felt so overwhelmed that some moments I could hardly remember the next thing I should be accomplishing. A wild mob of other tasks were on my calendar and on my mind, taunting me ruthlessly. Every time I had to leave the children with their workbooks to tackle another pressing concern, I felt like a failure.
“This is not what homeschooling is about!” I would lament. “It is not about workbooks and crossing off days. It is about a love for learning, a love for God and each other.”
The love was growing cold. I was stressed out and my children were noticing. My children were not excited about school anymore and I was noticing. Were they learning anything at all? What about that travel video I wanted to watch with them that we never got to? Had they remembered all the states in the US, or had they forgotten them already? Annalise just flew through her 1 grade math, but why couldn’t she remember her addition facts? Was school doing any good for Ashlyn as she remains at a preschool level year after year, or should I just graduate her already and admit defeat?
These questions were plaguing me one morning, about a week away from our evaluations. I felt like a horrible teacher and a very un-fun mom. Courage (who was completing 3rd grade) turned to me and said, “You’re the best mom ever!”
He had been saying this a lot lately. He had even taken up the habit of making it a song, “You’re the best mom ever!” He would sing out raucous notes while bounding through the house. I hadn’t given it much thought other than, “How am I supposed to think around here?”
But just then I stopped and let the moment sink into me. Courage truly thought I was the best mom ever. He was sitting next to me smiling and hugging me ferociously, and I finally just relaxed and received it.
I felt the Holy spirit Remind me, “You are not a failure. Your children love you. And they love me. What could be more important than that?”
As I began compiling all the homeschool logs and workbooks and writings and field trip pictures, I began to remember the joy again.
The Joy of exploring Virginia for the first time on vacation.
The joy of butterflies and kids’ games in the sunshine at Paulus Orchard.
The joy of listening to Dr. Dolittle on CD for the first time, and then the second, third, fourth….
The joy of learning about the ocean and then taking our very first family beach day.
The joy of celebrating Santa Lucia day with our own Annalise as Santa Lucia.
I was still feeling nervous about the evaluation. We really hadn’t accomplished very much in my mind. No large projects or epic masterpieces. But as our sweet, wonderful evaluator looked over our logs she said, “My, you have been busy this year, haven’t you?”
It was a busy year! But only what was done in love had any value. As I look back, I can say that MOST was love. Perhaps next year ALL can be love and joy!
I figure I have a month to soak in summer and God’s loving kindness before I need to plan and begin again. Perhaps I will feel so refreshed that I will finally be able to write that article that was alive and active in me two years, “I was a Homeschool Dropout, what I learned that allowed me to begin again with joy.”
Blessings to all you homeschool moms! Your love and faith are never in vain, and you are not a failure!