I don’t mean to sound morbid, but the parish graveyard right outside my kitchen window speaks volumes to my homeschooling heart.
Day in and day out, it reminds me of the “why” behind the piles of crumpled math pages that are only 3/4 done, the collection of pencils we hoard that have the most stubborn tips, and the emergency diaper changes that always happen right during the most profound moments of Religion class.
While some women have blooming Lilac trees and quaint neighbors waving at them outside their kitchen windows, I happen to have St. Clement’s Catholic Graveyard.
A Dismal, Grateful Reminder?
As dismal as it may seem, I am grateful for the experience I have whenever I wash dishes. That graveyard really helps me keep myself in check. Time and time again, it reminds me that my children have a destiny beyond math problems they just can’t comprehend, or essays that have flopped on them.
It reminds me that my kids have a truly gorgeous, eternal destiny — one shimmering with hope, peace, and glory.
And it’s my job, as a homeschooling Mom, to help them reach that destiny. It’s my honor, and I wouldn’t give it up for anything. A homeschool is a secure environment where little members of the Church Militant can develop their talents so that later they can shine out in the world, glorifying their King.
St. Clement’s Graveyard, which is over 150 years old, has tremendous tales to tell. Our family has already buried three of our children in the graveyard; we gave our conjoined twin infant girls to the arms of Jesus in 2013, and a miscarried baby in 2012.
Women Tough as Iron
Rickety gravestones share tales of pioneer families who roughed out homesteading land in makeshift log homes and sometimes just didn’t make it through alive. They tell tales of mothers who died during childbirth like I so easily could have, years ago.
And they tell tales of heroic mothers and fathers of large Catholic clans that spent hours upon hours teaching their children the ways of the Faith when there were no Saint DVD’s, stellar religion texts, or Catholic toys to help them through. Often these parents couldn’t read, but they taught their children the beauty of Catholicism by working hard in grueling conditions, being open to life, praying many family Rosaries, going over memorized Catechism questions, and staying married even when things got rough.
These tales remind me that although we homeschooling moms need to be tough as iron, we aren’t the only women who have had to be so.
Life was anything but easy for these pioneer women, who had to make it through the harsh winters by gathering together whatever wood scraps they could find to toss into the heating stove.
Their husbands were off finding work; they didn’t have a phone to call anyone if it got too cold to breathe; and they only hoped they could find enough wood to make it until the spring.
Only One Childhood
The graveyard’s stories also remind me that life passes so quickly, and so does the childhood of our children. I have a little sign above my sink that says, “My children only have one childhood, and I have only one chance to give it to them—now.” As Psalm 90 says, “Teach us to number our days aright, that we may gain wisdom of heart.”
I want my children to have what I never did—a pure, precious, and deeply spiritual childhood.
I don’t want rank disrespect, immodesty, and drug paraphernalia to be part of their daily mental diet (the Lives of the Saints stories can get wild enough, thank you!). I want our children to laugh, play and learn as children should, and I believe that the warm atmosphere of the home is the ideal place for them to do so.
I want to be able to take advantage of every moment I have with them; I want to embrace every chance I have to learn about the love of God and the beautiful world He has created right alongside of them.
When seen in such a light, I think I can handle messy handwriting and the all-too-intense sibling squabbles over who gets the neon eraser with Bugs Bunny on it.
I think I can handle the comments from people at the grocery store about how my kids must wish they could go to a real school, as well as the loneliness that so often accompanies my homeschooling days on the prairie.
I know the real reasons I homeschool, and they are just too extraordinary—and eternal—to ignore.