Today, I'm sharing the hardest part of my home school journey for the SimpleHomeschool.net series. My hardest part may not be similar to yours, so be sure to click over and check out all the wonderful, vulnerable posts - I'm sure there will be one or two that provide support and encouragement to you.
“Many people die at twenty five and aren’t buried until they are seventy five.”
Everything about home schooling was difficult for me after my marriage fell apart. From teaching letters and sounds, to describing how electricity works, to balancing free play with engagement, and constancy of the work required for both home and school – everything was burdened by the weight of my broken heart.
Each day, I would gear up. I tried to get my head in the game. Doing everything I could to be ready for whatever my day might require of me.
When my children were babies and toddlers, I would hide from them when in the most pain. PBS Kids and Curious George provided happiness and discovery that I didn’t have the strength to produce on my own. I allowed them to indulge while I built up my strength to make another meal or pack another diaper bag.
But hiding my broken heart proved to be a challenge I could not overcome.
I developed a clock-in/clock-out mentality. When I had built up enough strength I would clock-in and do the work of being the best mother and teacher I could be. When I was on the clock, I felt like I was in control and able to do what was expected of me. I would count the hours until bedtime, always ready well before the time for my little ones to go to sleep so that I could clock-out and mend my broken heart again.
As my children grew, they began to see me crack under the pressure of pain more and more.
Because pain isn’t tame. It doesn’t come in manageable doses, it doesn’t schedule it’s arrival in advance, and it doesn’t behave the same way from one day to the next.
At first, I got angry with the pain because I felt like a failure when it caught me off guard. I felt embarrassed. I didn’t want my children to think less of me. I couldn’t bare the thought of them not wanting to rely on me – I felt like I needed to always appear strong for them to do so.
Always trying to hide my broken heart from them created a barrier between us that hurt me even more. I could see the pain beginning to form on their little faces because the joy, laughter, and easy hugs they needed from me were gone.
Somewhere in my process of hiding my broken heart, I clocked-out from my own life.
Sure, I still made peanut butter and honey sandwiches, we still went to the library, and I still read to them every night before they went to bed – but I was only there in body. My heart and soul were hidden behind the shell of me. I felt weakness throughout the entirety of my being.
From this place of weakness, I tried to build a foundation for our days which ended in complete failure. And from repeated failure came shame and defeat. From defeat came lies in and hypocrisy out.
This is what it looked like: Monday – I planned to sit down with my children to read 2-3 books, review letters, colors, and sight words. If I still had their attention, then we would go over the calendar and weather.
But it was hard to get their attention, and they didn’t want to do the same things at the same time. They would begin to argue and fuss with one another, and the noise and chaos of it all exaggerated the pain and brokenness that I already felt to the point that I couldn’t take it.
I wave the white flag in surrender, and they go back to their pretend play and puzzles.
Then when a well-meaning friend or family member asks: How’s school going? I say, it’s going great! Because I don’t want to reveal the pain on top of the pain. I desperately needed school to be going well so that I would have one good thing in my life. I couldn’t admit defeat, and I had no clue how to recover from the daily battles that left me in the constant state of it.
“Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.”
– Winston Churchill
This was all before my first trip to the Great Homeschool Convention*. The sessions I went to were so helpful in strengthening me to be the mother I needed to be in order to be the teacher I wanted to be.
Also, time and truth built courage into my soul. The more time past, the more I was saturated in truth, the more I was able to endure the pressure of pain in my everyday life. That isn’t to say it isn’t still a struggle, but I’ve learned how to still love and nurture my children without being afraid of them seeing me in pain. I’ve learned to let them know me. I’ve grown to appreciate their presence and embrace the humiliation of feeling defeated again.
“The world breaks everyone and afterwards many are strong at the broken places.”
— Ernest Hemingway
The hardest part of my home school journey has taught me more than any textbook or online course ever could regarding love, growth, self-control, and personal discipline. I would not change one thing about the path that I have had to walk, and I no longer dread each new day for the fear that somehow there will be more pain that I won’t be able to hide from.
Because the hardest part of my home school journey has brought me to a place of strength I never would have found without it – on my knees. The place I avoided – the weakest place – has become my strength.
Because of the hardest part, I’ve learned the sweetest part. I’ve learned the surrendered place, the ordered and disciplined place, and the place where prayer lives. Open, honest, and ready to receive – no longer hidden, counting hours, and avoiding connection.
I’m reminded of what Steve Lambert said at this past year’s GHC*, Homeschooling is an invitation only party… he went on to explain that it is an intimate call from God to home educate your child. God intends to change you (the parent) for your good and His glory through the hard work of it.
Yes, I thank God for the hardest part.
* Affiliate link.