The Burden of Comparison: Part 1

Even if you’ve never wanted to homeschool, you’ve probably heard or asked these questions:

What do you teach?

When do you do it all?

How does that work?

Homeschooling can seem like this nebulous thing that only a few seemly, well-put-together families have figured out while the rest of us have to bust our rears on a daily basis just to make sure each child has clean underwear.

This is why I’m writing this mini-series on comparison. Good can come from comparison if it means that you learn more about yourself and if that knowledge helps you move forward. Comparison isn’t about discovering what is illusive about someone else, but it’s useful for learning what you don’t know about yourself.

Thomas a Kempis quote for comparison

At the beginning of my homeschool-motherhood, I was constantly hungry with questions for any other homeschool mom. I wanted to know what they had tried, what they had researched, and how they structured their day.

I didn’t do a lot of comparing because I had only just begun, and I hadn’t done enough to weigh myself to their standard. So while comparison can hide discontent in its wake, I was met with a different setback.

I took it all on.

If one program worked for this family, and another for that, then I should try both! My hunger for understanding the inner workings of homeschooling in each family, quickly became a hunger to do-it-all.

Thankfully, I have since dealt with this in my own life, and as a positive side effect, this hunger led me to write the Educational Theories Defined series because I wanted to know more about the camps that the curricula I was hearing so much about were coming from. Knowing the theory behind the resource helped me to quickly judge if it was worth my consideration or not.

As you can imagine, taking it all on led me to great failures. Here are some but not all:

Financial stress. I bought way more than we needed or could even use.

Physical stress. I have now moved whole boxes of unused curricula 7 times. (Let’s chat about my need for Marie Kondo some other time.)

Personal stress. Buying something and not using it is poor stewardship. Taking on more than I am able to bear is burdensome. These may seem like no-brainers, but I didn’t just fall into these poor choices – I ran head long into them – and it hurt.

Relational stress. I subconsciously held my kids and husband to blame. (Sin nature is so gross sometimes.) I wanted to do this “good thing” for them by leading my family on the educational path, but as I cluttered the path with so many resources and choices, we all stumbled and felt confused.

All this stress took its toll on me, and I slumped into homeschool-mom-failure-mode. I thought (wrongly) that I would never measure up, that I wasn’t disciplined enough for this lifestyle, and that I was ruining my children. Stress has a way of preying on weakness (and having a weakness isn’t a bad thing).

Through this process of coming to terms with my weaknesses and trying my best to forge on, I learned from other more wise homeschool moms that I needed to separate my times of planning into seasons, and that the bulk of my efforts on a daily basis should be put into just doing the next thing.

What I lacked most was experience, and I couldn’t get that experience by avoiding the daily work. In effect, I was hiding from the doing by staying in planning mode. My fear of failure tricked me into thinking that I was engaged in a good thing, when really I was avoiding the best thing.

Want to know what I learned next about homeschool mom comparison? You’ll have to come back later this week. For part two: The Freedom to Compare.

Did you see the discussion going on about accountability on my personal Facebook page? Click over and read it all, then let me know what you think.

Don't miss a post - subscribe to The Home Learner for more real life conversations on the learning journey. Coming soon: An Accountability Solution (per this post). You won't want to miss out on finding out what it's all about.

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