(While fear is something all mothers face, this post is dedicated to the many wonderful homeschooling moms, some that I am blessed to know personally, and meant to address my experience with fear as a homeschooling mother in hopes of helping someone else struggling with the same issue.)
It was the fall of 2012. Several weeks into our homeschool year, I found myself sitting cross-legged up in our attic. The hot tears tracing a long path down my face emerged out of flashes of sheer anger towards an unknown offender, deep sorrow, and utter confusion as to where this new path was headed.
Sorting what seemed to be endless stacks of papers, priceless memories left undefined by ink raced unrepressed through my mind. Grimacing, I experienced what it meant for the human heart to hurt; enduring an emotional pain that left me unable to catch my breath as I mentally tried wrap my thoughts around the question, “Why?”.
“Why God, am I so sick? Why have I been brought to this place in my life? Why must I do this?”
Engulfed by boxes of worksheets, writing assignments, tests, drawings, crafts, and pictures; it was the image of a mother’s hands, my hands, diligently weaving Truth and a love only I could provide into the very hearts of my children that filled the emptiness of that hollow room.
I was in the process of being taught the most valuable lesson I have learned thus far as a homeschooling mother; a lesson that would drastically (and permanently) alter my perspective as a home educator.
Yes, Krysta, you are enough…
Many years ago, a lady asked me how long I’d been homeschooling and I explained to her that we were just starting. After glancing at the boys and curiously back at me she said, “Well, it seems to me as if you’ve been teaching from the time they were born.” I realized there was a lot of truth in that statement.
As mothers, we are nurturers the day we are blessed with the arrival of a new baby. Even from the time they are in the womb or simply a dream carried deep within us, we cherish a life we cannot yet hold and begin a relationship of love that is unconditional. The greatest attention is given to shaping tiny hearts and guiding curious hands through an unfamiliar world. We delight in our child’s innocence and laughter as they discover the beauty of a flower or experience the feel of water splashing through their fingers.
But somewhere in the beginning, tied up in our desire to “mother” properly, we begin to separate being the mom and the teacher. This women, this nurturer, no longer exists as the same entity within our minds but two completely different beings. Suddenly, the title of “mom” is not enough to educate and instruct. As a homeschool parent, we begin to doubt our abilities and often find ourselves in a needless struggle to prove our competence to outsiders and please an often insatiable critic…
Shouldering a pack full of impractical expectations and unrealistic goals that were formulated in an attempt to smother doubt and alleged inadequacies, we step out onto an invisible battlefield. Rooted somewhere within our minds, an unseen war is begun where we will never stand victorious.
We will lose. Our children will lose.
As we trace each lie back to its origin, they hinge on one word–one solitary word that stands to rob us from obtaining the infinite blessings of homeschooling our children:
FEAR makes us disregard our purpose for homeschooling in the first place.
FEAR wears us out as we desperately try and mirror another homeschool family, instead of trusting God to show us the design He desires for our own.
FEAR drives us to take on too much within our classes so we don’t “miss” anything, causing everyone to become overwhelmed and burned out.
FEAR compels us compare our children to others.
FEAR finds us concerned about how people might perceive us.
FEAR lures us to give heed to Satan’s whispers of, “You’re ruining your kids.”
FEAR says, “It’s just not enough” until we believe the lie and throw in the towel.
Fear is paralyzing — rendering our homes unproductive.
Fear is NOT from God!
2 Timothy 1:7 – “For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.”
Choosing to safely tuck away a painful memory, I sometimes allow myself to crawl back up those attic stairs and reflect on the day I realized I was homeschooling my children from a place of fear.
Swallowed so deeply by that unforgiving monster, I had traded in prayerful direction for the ugly lie that I was incapable of providing my kids with what they needed. Compensating with ridiculous standards, my tainted view eventually transformed “success” solely into what could be seen and impossible perfection. In short, I had created a situation where I was incapable!
Anytime fear is given a voice in the choices we make, there will always be toxic consequences that bleed into every facet of our home.
Being saturated in a daily, self-inflicted stress, I eventually ceased finding joy in homeschooling. The normal conflict that occurs as a child is trained to stay on task and complete their work cheerfully became a sign that I was failing. Instead of working through those times and seeing them as an opportunity to produce lasting growth, I stood overwhelmed and consumed by a constant feeling of inadequacy.
In truth, my spiritual body was riddled with parasitic fear long before my physical body began to struggle with illness. Our homeschool was in a tailspin–we were on course to crash and burn!
I may never fully understand the “whys” of sickness, “whys” of being brought to a crossroads, and “whys” of having to send my children to public school but those unanswered questions no longer matter…
I praise my God, my Refiner, for His purifying fire! For it was through difficult trials–a road I would never have chosen to travel–that I was finally set free from fear!
1 Peter 1:6-7 – “In this you greatly rejoice, even though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been distressed by various trials, so that the proof of your faith, being more precious than gold which is perishable, even though tested by fire, may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.”
As Christians, we readily acknowledge that we will undergo hardships, obstacles, sadness, growing pains, uncertainty, and at times complacency. While each of these things may present a variety of challenges, we recognize they also serve as a means of cementing our reliance on God and an increase in spiritual maturity.
James 1:2-4 – “Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.”
What I have learned is that homeschooling is much the same.
We will endure rough spots, high walls that appear to be impassable, frustrations, low points, muddled priorities, and in moments, the temptation to cry out in defeat. Yet full reliance on God, replacing fear (lies) with complete Trust in Him, will carry us through those tribulations. On the other side, we will emerge strengthened and refreshed in Him as through our weakness, He is able to accelerate spiritual growth within us.
We will be victorious. Our children will be victorious.
2 Corinthians 12:9-10 – “But He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”
May we as homeschooling mothers embrace that as God’s intricate handiwork, we were situated carefully within His design–our homes–for a supreme purpose. That special place crafted for us is lovingly called, “Mom”. God has provided moms with His Word and a Spirit that intercedes, to equip them in all tasks. He created “Mom” to be enough.
You are enough!
[If you find yourself struggling as a homeschool mother (and we all will), prayerfully assessing your decisions for curriculum, schedules, extracurricular activities, and goals is a wonderful way to weed out problems. In practicing this, I often discover I am forcing a piece that doesn’t fit our family in that particular season. While homeschooling is not always easy, the blessings that flow from implementing God’s superior framework for our homes instead of our own are priceless!]