Disclaimer: In case this message stirs the pot, I want you to know these words are not intended to point fingers at anyone but myself. I’m thankful to be the citizen of a nation that offers homeschooling as one of several fantastic educational options for our children. I believe, as parents, we have to choose the best choice for our families that fits our individual circumstances, gifts and personalities. Homeschooling isn’t right (or even possible) for everyone. Whether you have decided to send your kids to public or private school or teach them at home, I’m cheering you on. Let’s walk together, encouraging one another and trusting God each step of the way.
I was late for work. As usual.
Even the traffic lights were against me it seemed. Hitting one after the other, I sat there gritting my teeth with knots in my stomach and white knuckles on the steering wheel.
By the time I made it onto the military installation where I worked, all of the best parking spots had been taken. I’m pretty sure smoke was coming out of my ears as I navigated my way around the one way streets, looking for another place to leave my vehicle.
Five minutes later, I made a mad dash to gather my belongings for the trek up to my office building. It really wasn’t that far, but every little thing grated on my frayed nerves.
Before locking my car, I glanced at the backseat to make sure I hadn’t left anything behind, and what I saw stopped me in my tracks: a tower of bowls filled with several days-worth of half-eaten frozen waffles and crumpled juice boxes.
Physical proof of the rushed lives we were living.
I felt like I’d been punched in the stomach.
Out of nowhere, tears clouded my vision, and I climbed back into my car to let them flow freely.
The truth is, this frenzied chain of events had become my typical morning routine. I’d gotten used to feeling hurried and stretched thin, and it had just taken a moment of guilt to crack the mask I’d been wearing.
The start to our days had become so rushed, we’d begun skipping pajamas and dressing the boys in their clothes for the next day so we could let them sleep as long as possible (it hurts to write this). It saved us time and laundry; win-win, or so we thought. Now, I realize it came at a cost.
Our two sons had been coming home at the end of the day exhausted and overstimulated. Even though we had great experiences with the elementary school and child development center they attended, my kindergartener had been complaining of frequent headaches, stomach aches and mouth ulcers, and dropping my youngest off at school each day nearly ripped my heart in two. For more than a year, he would cling to my leg, cry and tell me “I need you, Mommy” as I kissed him goodbye most days.
I’d been having lunch with them, volunteering in the classroom, and attending events when I could to let them know I was there for them, but it never felt like enough.
The days, weeks and months went by in a blur.
As I sat there drying my eyes in the parking lot, I checked my mascara in the mirror and took a good hard look at myself – on the inside and out.
I loved the work I was doing.
Even though the pay barely covered the cost of preschool and after-school care,
getting to my desk and writing my heart out while enjoying a still-warm cup of coffee was a dream come true.
I’d been learning so much from my amazing co-workers, and I was professionally fulfilled for the first time in my life… and yet I had this longing to be at home full-time with my children.
When we were stationed at Fort Bliss, I had the pleasure of observing and getting to know two wonderful homeschooling families. Since then, I’d done my fair share of research “just for fun,” all the while living with this gentle nudge at my heart that said “you should really see what this is all about.”
My mind, on the other hand, had other things to say about it.
What is wrong with me?
Why am I not satisfied?
Isn’t this what having it all looks like?
You couldn’t homeschool as well as those other moms, anyway.
Quite frankly, the thought of quitting a job I loved to teach my kids at home sounded a little nuts to me.
The more I considered it, though, the more I realized trading in a career to educate my children wasn’t a waste of my hard-earned degrees and experience… it was an opportunity to use them in a different way.
A few weeks later, I received a seemingly too-good-to-be-true job offer out of the blue.
I could continue doing what I loved while working part-time from home for another company.
So, with my husband’s full support (I couldn’t have done it without his encouragement), I took a leap of faith.
I accepted the offer and turned in my resignation at work.
Still, I waited ‘til the last week of summer before sending an email with a letter of intent to homeschool my first-grader.
The day after I left my job, my husband started working night shifts. Three weeks later, his vehicle broke down, and we ended up having to share my car for the next six months as we waited for the right parts to arrive in the mail (the beauty of living overseas!).
Looking, back, I’m not sure how we could’ve made things work with both of us working out of the home during this time, but God knew all of this.
He knew we would be dealing with car issues.
He knew we would be going through another stressful move.
He knew we needed the kind of rest that only He could give us.
For the first few months, I found myself still rushing through our days. As soon as I noticed gaps in our schedule, I began taking on additional projects and over-committing myself all over again.
It wasn’t just a habit I had to break; I had to change my entire way of thinking. Home education is not just a list of lessons to complete and check off. It’s a way of life.
At the beginning of the year, I’d created a strict schedule that I did my best to stick to.
I would get irritated if we got behind or veered off track, until one day it hit me…
Why am I in such a hurry?
What am I hoping to accomplish by rushing through each task?
It doesn’t. Have. To. Be. This. Way.
Living in Germany and observing people who know how to savor a slower pace of life has been perspective-shifting for me.
I’m working to be more intentional with our time, and I’ve revised our routine to give us enough structure to keep us on track with plenty of freedom to bend and breathe when we need to.
I’ve also begun to say “no” to new commitments, and I have had to let go of things I piled onto our schedule at the beginning of the year. It has been humbling to let down people and organizations I have the utmost respect for.
It turns out, those gaps in our schedule? They are good and necessary.
Yes, I hear “I’m bored” more often (sometimes, it’s from my own mouth), but I’ve realized boredom is an opportunity to rest and breathe; to be creative.
It’s been a tough lesson to learn.
Now, instead of peeling the boys out of their warm beds at the crack of dawn, they are able to sleep as long as their growing bodies need.
Most days, we have a warm, balanced breakfast before beginning our lessons.
We still enjoy frozen waffles from time to time, but being able to eat them fresh out of the toaster, along with big glasses of milk, warm syrup and sides of eggs, bacon and fruit, while we sit together at the kitchen table has made all the difference.
The beauty of unrushed mornings is what I value most in this first year of homeschooling.
It has been healing for our entire family.
We needed these months of rest. Soon, we will be in a much busier season as our lives are turned upside down by yet another move. We’re already feeling the strain.
Whether or not we choose to continue homeschooling next year (or the year after that), the last six months have been life-changing for all four of us, and I’m so thankful we decided to take this leap of faith together.
Let’s talk! I would love to hear…
Have you ever felt a nudge on your heart to do something you’re afraid of?
What did you do about it?