Over the years I’ve had the opportunity to speak at dozens of homeschooling conventions. Speaking is an honor, of course, but getting to meet homeschooling mamas is the real treat.
So often I hear a similar thread from them. It sounds something like this:
- “This is harder than I thought it would be.”
- “I can’t manage to keep up.”
- “I don’t know how to fit it all in.”
- “We’re not doing enough.”
- “I’m not doing a good enough job.”
And every single time, I want to say, “You are way, way better at this than you think you are.”
Somewhere along the way in our homeschooling journey, we all seem to start believing that if we use the just-right curriculum and teach it in the just-right method, if we listen to just the right experts and stick to our plans for just one year, then we’ll finally get a handle on homeschooling.
We’ll finally feel satisfied with the job we’re doing.
We’ll finally be enough.
We get caught up in checking all the boxes and making sure there are no major gaps in our children’s education.
We start looking at homeschooling methods and curriculum plans more than we look at our children. We forget we’re teaching children, not books. We’re teaching humans, not lesson plans.
We let false expectations crowd into our lives and take over- expectations to do more and be more, and we struggle as we try desperately to live up to expectations we were never meant to take on.
My friend Erin Loechner says something about this in her book, Chasing Slow.
She says, “The answer is not to lower the expectations we have created. The answer is to live up to the expectations we have been created for. Live up to the expectation that you are what your child needs.” (emphasis mine)
If you are a homeschooling mama who feels:
- she isn’t doing a good enough job…
- homeschooling doesn’t look like you thought it was supposed to…
- it’s all more cumbersome and frustrating and far more joyless than you hoped…
- you just aren’t living up to the expectations set out for you…
Then ask yourself:
Whose expectations are you trying to live up to?
Are you trying to live up to the expectations thrust on you by your lesson plans, your homeschool co-op, your in-laws, your parents, your school district… yourself?
You cannot serve two masters. So whose “well done” are you working for?
God is not asking us do this homeschooling thing perfectly. He’s never asked us to do this homeschooling thing perfectly.
He is not asking us to make sure our kids have memorized their times tables by a certain age. He is not asking us to make sure our children have read a particular list of books before they graduate, get a particular score on the SAT, read at the 4th grade reading level when they are in the so-called “4th grade”, or perform any other such feat in order to prove that our children are getting a better education than they would otherwise.
This is what He asks of all of us: to love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. And to love your neighbor as yourself.
Education, then, is for love.
Somehow, I don’t think God is impressed when our kids outperform their peers. I’m not sure He’s most concerned with whether our kids can translate Latin to English or read the fattest books with the greatest ease. I’m not convinced that he wants math curriculum to keep me up at night, as I toss and turn and worry about whether my child is doing enough, becoming enough, excelling enough.
But he is pleased beyond measure when my child loves and is loved. That’s what He asked me to do, after all.
Do you know what I bet you’re doing exceedingly well, even if I’ve never met you?
Even if you didn’t get to half of the plans you made for your last homeschool year?
I bet you loved your kids more than any other human walking the face of the earth loved them.
I bet you laughed with your children once or twice. Cried with them too, most likely. I bet you offered a hug, a smile, a listening ear, a late-night tuck-in. I bet your child went to bed at night knowing they are wildly loved by you, and in turn, knew they were wildly loved by God.
See? You’re better at this than you thought.
All that other stuff comes along for the ride. The memory work, the read-alouds, the math drills, the paragraph edits, the history timelines and science experiments and oral presentations and spelling words: it is all good, but it isn’t nearly as important as you probably think.
But YOU. You are.
If I could look every single mom at that homeschooling convention in the eye, I would tell her the same thing: YOU. ARE. AMAZING.
And you’re better at this than you think you are.
So keep on. Make your plans for another homeschooling year. Know that you won’t check all the boxes, you won’t finish all the books, you won’t be able to live up to the expectations you are setting for yourself today, and that’s okay.
Live up to the expectation you’ve been created for. The expectation that you, simply loving your children and coming alongside them as their greatest ally, is more important than all the rest.
And you’re better at it than you thought.
top photo credit: Graeme Pitman