As the last rays of sun set on our first year of homeschooling, I found myself reflecting on the many challenges that we faced this past year. Never would I have imagined that homeschooling would be as difficult and rewarding as it has turned out to be. It is, without a doubt, the best decision we have ever made.
But… despite the joy educating our children has brought, I have been forced to take a long, hard look at myself in the process. And let me tell you, I didn’t always like what I saw.
Homeschooling your children, it turns out, is as much about growing up yourself as it is about raising your kids.
I Lacked the ‘Important Things’…
When my wife and I first started out on this journey nearly a year ago, we both were a little scared and more than a bit hesitant, terrified at what the year would hold. The simple things we had figured out: crayons and construction paper, lots of glue and safety scissors. About the rest, we just weren’t sure. And as all great journeys usually begin, we set out with little preparation and a whole lot of determination!
But as the year rolled by, I learned that one of the most important things in successfully navigating the homeschool waters was one thing I distinctly lacked… selflessness.
When we started, I thought I was Mr. Selfless: bathing the kids before bed, cleaning up the kitchen, helping out my wife by cooking dinner most nights. I thought that was enough; surely, it had to be. After all, past keeping the kids and the house clean and food in our bellies, what else was there?
I Got This!
But before I go any further, let me back up a step. When we started the year, my wife and I decided we would take the “divide and conquer approach” to homeschooling. She stays at home with our five beautiful children while I go sit in an air conditioned office all day. It’s not a bad job. I return home before six most nights and have several hours to spend with the kids before they scamper off to bed.
But let’s face it, by staying at home, I knew she would do most of the heavy lifting. Besides, between the two of us she has all the beauty and most of the brains. Who better to teach our kids?
But, being the wise and knowing wife that she is, there were some things that she wanted me to do. Not because she couldn’t handle it, but because she wanted me to be involved. And I did too! I just didn’t realize what that would mean at the time.
After working all day, I often came home grumpy and tired. The last thing I wanted to do was sit and do homeschool. So, since my wife loves me and didn’t want to dump too much on me at once, she left me with the easy stuff: physical education, music, and religion. “That’s it?” I said. Just come home, run around the yard a little, show them some cool songs, and maybe read a little before bed.
No problem, I got this!
Struggling with My Feelings
Well, as it turns out, easy it was not. It wasn’t that doing these things with the kids was all that hard. Quite the contrary, once we got out in the yard or knee deep in a music lesson, I had a great time and so did they. My oldest daughter even took to begging me to do Religion before bed. She loved the stories, the pictures most of all.
But the problem wasn’t with the kids, the problem was with me! I would come home, plop down on the couch and maybe watch some TV. And then my wife would remind me.
What? I have to get up and do PE with the kids? Is it already time for another piano lesson? I just did that the other day! I know that sounds bad, but after working all day, plus tired and grumpy, I didn’t always feel like doing these things. I mean come on! I worked all day! Do I really need to do this now?
I didn’t want to admit it, but I was being pretty selfish. I was putting my feelings ahead of my kids’ needs. For months I struggled with this. I kept telling myself, “Who has that kind of time?” Well, as it turned out, I did. All along.
And what should have been an “Ah ha!” moment was really more of an “I’ve known this all along, I’ve just been too stubborn to admit it” moment. All those days that I was coming home, grumpy and tired, putting myself first, the kids were there, waiting for me. Just like God was there, waiting on me, patiently tapping his fingers, wondering when I’d decide to start listening.
Don’t Keep them Waiting
And that’s when I knew. I couldn’t keep them waiting any longer. Either one of them. God had prodded us for years to homeschool our kids. And here we were, living it, day in and day out. And whether I had a good day at work or a rotten day at work, it really didn’t matter. When I came home, my responsibilities were still the same.
But those responsibilities, all five beautiful little heads just waiting to be filled with knowledge, were just one of God’s many gifts to me. I get to come home to them every night and share with them my knowledge. I get to teach them. I get to do PE with them. I get to read the Bible to them and teach them about God. And when I finally stopped thinking about what I had to do and started wondering at what I would get to do, my whole world began to change.
Now, I still have my days where I sigh in exhaustion, wondering how I’ll get through another session of PE. But hopefully as we look to the fall and the start of our second year of homeschool, my little gem of wisdom will lodge somewhere in the front of my brain, reminding me to be joyful and look to their education with wonder and anticipation.
Father and Son Photo © nadezhda1906 / Dollar Photo Club