SummaryMary Donellan offers a heartfelt tribute to homeschooling dads, and reminds us to honor these unsung heroes in a special way this Father’s Day.
Picture two sisters. One is blue-eyed and one is brown-eyed; one devotes herself to ballet barres and one gleefully hops on western saddles; but both sport dimples and southern drawls at about ten and eight years old, respectively.
Picture dull gray morning light spilling through a beach condominium as a family packs up their pell-mell clothes and luggage and prepares to head home from vacation (always a tragic day).
However, this departure is not happening quite yet . . . and for the moment, imagine a dad and a grandfather taking “seats of honor” at the condominium table, while the dimpled girls stand anxiously in front of them, and the remaining attendees hover in the background.
The girls twiddle their fingers, sway in their flip-flops, and their eyes can’t quite land on anything concrete . . . yes, it’s the Quintessential About-To-Recite-Poetry-Look.
And then they begin (trying not to drawl too much):
“Only a dad, with a tired face,
Coming home from the daily race,
Bringing little of gold or fame,
To show how well he has played the game,
But glad in his heart that his own rejoice
To see him come, and to hear his voice . . .”
(the entire poem is linked here)
The Unsung Champions of Homeschooling
It’s early morning on Father’s Day, many years ago, and these dimpled girls are myself and my younger sister. My father and grandfather sit at the table, probably a little misty-eyed.
The poem we learned and recited to them in honor of their fatherhood is the famous “Only a Dad” by Edgar Guest.
While the memory itself is hazy now, as the calendar once again approaches Father’s Day, “Only a Dad” thrusts itself forward into my conscious thought, stoutly reminding me of the heroic role of fathers, and urging me not to forget that they are often the unsung champions of homeschooling.
Let’s take a moment to consider all that homeschooling fathers do for us!
“Bearing the Whips and Scorns of Life”
I think it’s safe to say that there are many different ways homeschooling fathers contribute to the homeschooling endeavors of their families.
One dad may shoulder the majority of the educational load. Another might conduct science experiments on weekends, or take over PE, or help with the logistics of extracurricular activities. Many fathers must pour all their energy, time, and skill into the task of simply providing for their families.
Some fathers might have even worn all these hats at different times, fluidly moving from one role to the next as the needs of their families dictate.
But no matter the specific details of their contributions, all fathers are the champions, the hidden knights, the sometimes unnoted heroes of the homeschooling family.
My mother has always been the forefront educator in our homeschool, while my father goes out into the work world five days a week to provide for and safeguard us in our domestic church.
There are many homeschooling fathers who also fill this role: as Guest describes it, “one of ten million men or more” who bear the brunt of the world on their shoulders, who carry the stress and toil of providing, “the whips and scorns of life” “for the sake of those who at home await.”
Can we begin to imagine what the fate of homeschooling would be without these heroes who go out into the work world and fight for their families?
“Neither Rich Nor Proud”
The father who supports his wife in the mission of homeschooling in a sense automatically forgoes what the world would call success: in the words of Guest, “Only a dad, neither rich nor proud/ Merely one of the surging crowd.”
There are costs in all forms of education, including homeschooling. Simple things add up.
The extra groceries needed for the family to eat all three meals a day in the home, the bills of electricity resulting from the house rarely being empty or dark, and the cost of curriculum are just a few of the needs the homeschooling father must work to provide for.
The dented wall, the plugged toilet, and the general wear and tear he often has to see to on weekends might not be there if his enthusiastic, energetic children attended public school!
In addition, let’s not forget that the father sometimes face criticism from coworkers because of his family’s homeschooling values. But as Guest says, he “bear[s] it all for the love of them”.
Above all, homeschooling fathers are champions of openness to life—and this is perhaps the greatest example of their heroic generosity.
“The Best of Men”
“Only a Dad, but he gives his all/
to smooth the way for his children small.”
What better closing description is there for the homeschooling father?
No matter what he does, whether at work or at home, the homeschooling dad pours out all he has to provide, protect, and bring up the children he loves. He is the leader and backbone of his family, who sacrifices much and asks for little.
While each family knows and honors this truth about their own hero, perhaps in the general homeschooling picture, the toil and love of homeschooling fathers are at times forgotten.
So let’s bring their praises to the forefront this Father’s Day (nothing wrong with lining up your dimpled children for a recitation, I might add!), as Guest does at the end of his poem:
“This is the line that for him I pen/
Only a dad, but the best of men.”