by Michelle Bosso
I am currently in my third year of homeschooling with Seton Home Study School. This year my preschooler attends a private half-day program. While Brycen is at school, we complete the majority of the work for my 1st, 4th, and 6th graders. Breelyn, my beautiful new baby girl, joins us as we go through the boys’ lessons. Some days are cozy, heavenly days, when all the stars align and the angels sing over us. Some days are tough days—days when I find myself fantasizing about running back to the public school and dropping off the boys.
However, I receive strength knowing that this is God’s Will for our family. Even on a tough day, I find God’s grace. I find my older sons helping a younger son. I find them reading their Seton books together, asking questions and seeking answers. My baby daughter took her first steps from Tyler’s arms to Dylan’s arms during public school hours. What a special moment for all of us, and one we could not have had without Catholicism and homeschooling in our lives.
I’ve always known that I was going to be a mother. My fiancé, Todd, and I had it all figured out. We would have two, maybe three children. I would settle on a major and finish college before we started our family (I chose Elementary Education so I could have the same schedule as my future children). We’d have our last child before I was 30 years old. I would stay at home with the children while they were small and return to work when our youngest started preschool.
Todd was a cradle Catholic and I was Lutheran, but we both wanted Todd’s uncle, Monsignor Bosso, to perform the marriage ceremony. I remember the sunny day when Todd and I pulled up to a beautifully landscaped Catholic Church to meet with his uncle. We were there to discuss our engagement and fill out paperwork. At the end of our meeting, Todd’s uncle handed us a form to read and sign. We had to promise in writing to raise our children Catholic! We signed the form and promised to give the Catholic Church a chance for the sake of our future children.
We did give it a chance, a very short chance. There were traditions I didn’t understand ,and I felt like an outsider during Mass. Why couldn’t I accept Holy Communion? I wasn’t familiar with words like the Eucharist or homily. Why do they talk about saints and why is there so much focus on Mary? My husband struggled to answer my questions and ease my hurt feelings. We ended up seeking a different denomination, one in which we could both be comfortable.
A few years later, according to our plan, I graduated college with my B.S. in Elementary Education. I was elated as I walked down the aisle to accept my diploma. I put my hand on my stomach, excited to have our first son, Tyler, walk with me. I was four months pregnant. We had found a lovely Lutheran church for Tyler’s baptism. By Tyler’s first birthday, I was five months pregnant with our second son, Dylan. Fast forward two more years, and I was pregnant with our third and final child, according to our plan.
I lost that baby when I was approximately six weeks pregnant. I was devastated. I had already become so attached to that little being. How was that so? The child wasn’t even born yet. A dear friend of mine, a Catholic convert, brought me a sweet gift and a handwritten card that spoke of my “angel baby.” That was the first time I had ever heard of an unborn baby being referred to as if he or she actually existed. It brought me an immense amount of comfort and, I think, planted a seed as well.
A Still, Small Voice
Nine months after the miscarriage, I was pregnant with a fourth child, our son, Cayden. His arrival prompted the decision to move an hour away and build a larger home. We visited many churches but didn’t feel called to become members; I did notice, though, that our town had a Catholic Church. In the past, my Catholic “knowledge” had been derived from opinions and perspectives of non-practicing Catholics. Over these next months, however, I began to learn about the Catholic Faith on my own, and honestly, I became intrigued.
At 30 years old and blessed with an amazing husband, 3 beautiful children, and spacious brand new home, I still felt something was missing. Our days were full, but I felt a void. Our family was complete (I thought), but I often found myself looking in the rearview mirror of my 8-passenger SUV and imagining another beautiful baby in the vacant seat. What was wrong with me?!
I found myself purposely driving by the Catholic church. I continued reading about the Church and asking questions of devout Catholics who truly loved their faith. I would think back to that sunny day, and the promise we made to raise our children Catholic kept whispering in my mind. A seed was trying to bud in my heart.
Not My Will
In the meantime, life was busy. I was entering that phase of parenthood when you run, run, run all day—school to doctor, back to school to volunteer, errands, back to school to pick up the kids and then…HOMEWORK!
I would think of friends who homeschooled and I figured they were all nuts. After all, I couldn’t even get through the homework part without getting frustrated. Then the kids needed a snack before we rushed to their extracurricular activities and then hurried home for a late dinner. They had to finish any remaining homework and then bathe and go to bed later than we wanted. It was exhausting. Weekends came and went, and then I was sending the kids off to school on Monday morning, just to do it all over again and again and again. This was the norm; this is what everyone was doing, but something didn’t feel right.
Another year went by, and while many of my friends celebrated that they were almost out of the diaper phase, I didn’t feel the same. I still had a strong desire for more children. But this feeling went against our plan! Having 3 children was normal, but once you had 4, you started walking a fine line. Todd listened to my struggle, but it wasn’t long before I was ready to try for another child. Todd agreed. A few short weeks later, we were pregnant with our fifth child, another son, Brycen.
This fifth pregnancy carried me to the Church. Although my pregnancy had been greeted with love by many, it had also been greeted very negatively by a few. The negative opinions always weigh the heaviest! I desired to walk away from the negativity and walk towards Jesus. I also felt the need to be a part of a faith that valued every life conceived. With the impending arrival of our newest child, a thirst for the Eucharist also began to develop within me. Thus, on many days, I would find myself sitting in my car in the parking lot of our local Catholic church. That little seed from the marriage vows had finally sprouted.
Our family began attending our little town’s Catholic church. I began RCIA classes. What I thought would be a joyous time ended up being very stressful, as there were several traumatizing events that happened, shaking my soul to its depths. The harsh realities of how other people’s choices could directly affect our family placed us in some difficult positions. I found myself always feeling sick. In addition, I started suffering from anxiety. It was debilitating. The children were incredibly sick that year as well.
I cried out, asking God why this was happening now, when I had looked to His Church with so much hope and trust. I prayed a lot. The seed of faith grew bigger and made me realize that I had to let go of MY plan completely. God had always had a plan for me, and it included Him being in my plan, but I hadn’t been responding with openness. He deserved more than I was giving. I knew it was time to start putting God first.
Resting in the Lord
Todd and I were on the same page. We decided I would not go back to work anytime soon. We decided to list our home and downsize. We decided to start budgeting and live a more frugal lifestyle. We decided to become more involved in our church, and we decided to homeschool.
Seton came highly recommended by the same friend who had touched my heart with the card. It didn’t take long to learn that homeschooling is a lifestyle and doesn’t just begin when the books come out and end when they are put away. Homeschooling is an integration of life and education, where learning happens always. Together, my children and I learn about Catholic culture, and learn to incorporate our faith into each thread of our day. It is such a gift.
The kids are still very involved with their extracurricular activities. They attend a homeschool PE and homeschool art class. They have piano lessons, and a speech pathologist comes to the home once a week. Todd is very active with the children after work. He is a Cub Scout Den Leader and coaches their sport teams. The children have many activities affiliated with our church such as altar-serving, Squires, and Faith Formation. We also have three different co-ops in which we occasionally participate.
My children are growing academically, domestically, physically, socially, and spiritually. They talk to people of varying ages now. They are learning to work as a team so that we can get from point A to point B more quickly. They help me tend to the house now that I am helping them as their teacher. I have grown and continue to grow as a Catholic but also as a mother and as a wife. I am proud to be a witness to God’s graces. I can’t thank Him enough for letting the promise we made for our children bring us back to the fullness of His truth in the Catholic Faith.
We took the plunge and stepped outside of the cultural norm of our society, and our family is stronger because of it.
That feels right!
Images © Bridget Lopez Photography and JB Larson Photography