by Lorraine E. Espenhain
Tonight I’m making chicken noodle soup for dinner. I need the comfort that it brings to me because today my meds aren’t working.
One of the hardest challenges that I face as a homeschooling mother is dealing with hypothyroidism (an underactive thyroid gland). Anyone who has this condition knows how debilitating it can be. There are days when my body responds to the meds, and days when it does not. The fatigue, depression, brain fog, and inability to articulate myself can make homeschooling extremely challenging.
I’m not alone. There are many homeschooling mothers or fathers who deal with physical challenges. Some are struggling with cancer or diabetes. Some older women with young children are going through menopause and having to deal with the plethora of physical changes that take place in their bodies due to fluctuating hormones.
Homeschooling can be challenging on a good day, but how does one deal with it when he or she is battling a chronic condition?
One of the things that I have learned over the years is that sometimes, “you have to do what you have to do in order to do what you have to do.” This means that you have to be flexible, and you can’t feel guilty or beat yourself up because of it. On the bad days, you have to make adjustments. This might mean starting homeschooling lessons later in the day. It might mean (dare I suggest it?) taking the day off and giving your body a chance to recoup. It might mean just cutting the lessons in half – doing the first half one day, and the second half the next day, which is something that I have had to do on the really bad days.
The biggest mistake I have made in the past is trying to push myself when my body refuses to come along for the ride. When I’m overly fatigued because of my hypothyroidism, I easily lose my temper, and I have no patience. That’s why I’ve had to give myself permission to pull back on the really bad days and not feel guilty about it. I don’t feel guilty about it because my kids are worth it. What is to be gained if I can say, “Phew! I did it!” but I’ve got a kid crying in the bedroom because I yelled all morning and another one picking shrapnel out of her self-esteem?
I refuse to allow my physical condition to keep me from homeschooling. What I do for the Lord and for my children is a labor of love, and I will not let this disorder rob me or them of it. I have simply learned how to work around it, and sometimes that means making changes and adjustments and not feeling guilty about it. What is the alternative? Putting my children in a school that teaches them things that clearly go against our Faith?
As I bang out this post on my keyboard, tears are streaming down my face because if you are doing your best as a homeschooler while struggling with a debilitating something or other, I feel for you. I know the cross you carry, and I know how overwhelmed you feel. I know what it feels like to want to give your best but to be trapped in a physical body that simply will not let you.
I want to encourage you to keep on keeping on! Go with the flow, be flexible, and don’t ever be afraid to make adjustments when necessary. That dark shadow that never ceases to leave you is not your sickness, beloved; it is the shadow of your Lord, hovering over you, walking with you, working with you, teaching you, and protecting you with arms perpetually outstretched in case you should fall. Who would escape such a Shadow? Who would want to?
When we are forced to do things in a body that wishes to rebel, we are forced to rely on Christ’s power to do what He has called us to do. And when we do what we do through His power, and not own, we have come to the place where God wants all mankind to be… whether in sickness or in health.
Chicken Noodle Soup
2 lbs. chicken pieces (thighs or breasts)
10 cups water
1 large onion, chopped
2 ribs celery (cut each rib in half)*
1 bay leaf
salt and pepper to taste
1 lb. bag carrots, sliced
1 bag wide egg noodles
2 tablespoons parsley
Skin the chicken pieces.
Combine chicken, water, onion, celery, bay leaf, salt and pepper in a large saucepan and bring to a boil.
Cover and simmer 1 ½ hours.
While soup is simmering, cook your noodles in a separate pot and chop up your carrots.
Remove chicken and celery from pot. Remove bones from the chicken and cut chicken up into smaller pieces. Discard the bones and the celery and return the cut up chicken to the pot.
Add carrots and parsley. Cover and simmer for 15 minutes or until carrots are tender.
Add cooked noodles to the soup just before serving.
*Celery doesn’t need to be sliced. Just cut each celery rib in half and put in the pot. You’re only using it to add flavor to the broth. At some point, you will be removing the celery from the pot, and the last thing you want to do is spend time picking out a bunch of tiny celery pieces.