Fathers, you think you’ve have a bad day.
Let me tell you what your wife’s day has been like.
8:47AM. The dog ran into the house and tracked mud on the living room carpet—delaying the start of the home schooling day for 20 minutes.
9:07AM. Your wife sat down to try to administer a verbal quiz on The Lilies of the Field, but your six-year-old daughter got into a shouting match with your four-year-old son because he colored St. Joseph’s face green in the Art 1 for Young Catholics book.
11:49AM. Papa John’s Pizza delivery man rang the door bell. He attempted to deliver three hot, delicious-smelling pizzas to your house, except they actually got the address wrong, and meant to deliver them next door. Your 8-year-old son insists that there was, in fact, no mistake, using the term “Divine Providence” correctly in a sentence for perhaps the first time in his life.
11:50AM to 2:44PM. 8-year-old spends this time wondering out loud why mom “cheated him out of pizza.”
12:13PM. Your wife discovered that you forgot to get bread on your way home last night, and is forced to give the children grilled cheese crackers. (She never actually eats lunch herself.)
1:08PM. Your wife misplaced the Quarter Report Forms and tried to print them out on-line—except for the fact that the printer is characteristically dysfunctional.
1:59PM. It is discovered that your fifteen-year-old son left his copy of The Merchant of Venice at his cousin’s house, so your wife asked him to read some similar work of literature to satisfy class time. Recognizing no appreciable difference between Shakespeare’s classic and the book he wants to read, he proceeds to read one chapter of Maze Of Deception (Star Wars: Boba Fett, Book 3).
2:07PM. Your wife spends the better part of the next forty minutes trying to get the song “I Listen to the Whistles” from the We Sing and Chant book out of her head, but is unsuccessful.
3:03PM. Your wife takes the coffee pot to the sink with the intention of brewing a cup of coffee for herself. While filling it, the phone rings, and your wife answers it. Her mother is calling to inform her daughter that she just heard about this “good Catholic school that is opening” in the area and was wondering if your wife would consider sending the children to that school. “After all,” reasons her mother, “your oldest is starting college soon, and he needs some ‘real classroom time.’”
3:06PM. Your wife launches a spirited defense of home schooling, pointing out that the reason her children will go to college in the first place is because she has taught them well for all these years.
3:07PM. Her mother tells her that she has to go because she has “something on the stove.”
Let me tell you what didn’t happen this day. Your wife’s relatives didn’t call and tell her what a “great job” she’s doing “home schooling the kids all these years.” Your wife’s traditional-schooling friend didn’t stop by the house for a last-minute fashion tip (After all, why would you ask advice from someone who seems to use jelly as an accessory?). Your children didn’t run up to their mother, give her a hug and say: “Thank you mommy for saving us from the pagan culture so prevalent in today’s educational system.”
As the school year commences this September, and the thrill of picking out new pens, paper, and school supplies at Staples wanes to the harsh reality of sentence diagramming, let’s all take a few minutes to realize one central truth: your wife has given up a lot to home school your children.
Let me say that again: regardless of her family background, interests, education, or anything else, your wife has made a great sacrifice to home school your children. As a husband and father, your recognition of that fact will probably be directly proportionate to the success of your home schooling program.
You don’t necessarily needs to help your son with geometry, or correct your daughter’s math quizzes, or administer a spelling test to be a successful home schooling father—but you do need to recognize that, in the home schooling story that plays itself out day by day, your wife is the hero.
When my wife and I took our pre-Cana classes, our priest told me: “If you want to be a better father, love your wife.” I would extend that to this: if you want your home schooling program to be successful, the most important component is the love and recognition you have for your wife.
Listen to your wife’s concerns. Ask her how her day went. Compliment her on how well she’s teaching one of the children. Babysit the children one night a week and suggest that she go out with her friends to coffee or dinner. Thank her. Remind her that your successes would be impossible without her.
As this new school year begins, let’s all of us fathers ask Our Lord to help us love our wives better, and to remember that we are not only home schooling fathers, but also home schooling husbands.