Wednesday, August 27, 2008

a letter

we are starting our fifth year of hsing. when i started hsing, i had one friend i knew that hsed. she started when her oldest was in sixth grade. and that oldest started her sophomore year at the local public high school this year. this friend sent me a letter after my first year of hsing that she wrote me when i first started. but she didn't send it until after my first year was finished. it made me cry to read it because so many things she wrote were so true. and i was so relieved. and it gave me peace...

in my cyber tribe, there's a mama who's on her second year of hsing. and i think she loves it. but there are definitely times that i think she needs to know she's not alone in...and i want to reach out to her and tell her that she's not alone. i was talking to lanatron about it the other night and we talked and shared and supported each other through so many things that i wished this other mama (from the cyber tribe) could've been there to hear. it just helps to know that some of these things are normal, we're not doing it wrong, and it's okay to keep trying even when it feels like we are (you know, doing it wrong).

so i went and searched through my files for this letter because i knew i still had it. and it still brought me more peace. and i thought i'd try to share some of that by posting it here...

Confessions of a homeschooling mom


There are some things I want you to know. A few tidbits about this homeschooling life you’re about to embark upon. Things you may not read in those “wonderful” homeschooling books. Things I don’t like to admit in the light of day. But, things, I want you to know, as my friend.

Some of these you’ll have to discover on your own. I’ll try not to take that away from you. I just don’t want you to call me and scream “Why didn’t you tell me this?”

There will be days you think the rest of the world is crazy. You may even equate public school with child abuse. Harken, my friend, and hold those comments. There will be days you are ready to pray to the public school god. Days you lie awake, convinced you are screwing your kids up forever. Days you are so completely overwhelmed with the responsibility of their education. You’ll feel you literally hold their lives in your hands. Days where you believe you’re a failure. And, there will be days you fail.

Let me tell you a few absolutes:

While you’re responsible for their education, you are not the only one they will learn from. At some point, as they grow into adults, they become responsible for the paths they choose. If you don’t give them enough, they will have to seek more. If you have given them a positive view on learning, they will seek and find. We have some influence, they have some control over themselves, God has complete control over it all.

While it is easy to badmouth others for their choices, and choosing to homeschool is a noble choice, there are other families out there who make noble decisions every day. Many do not homeschool. While it is important to honor our individual families and their ways of life, it is equally important to support our sisters who are traveling their journey as well. And, besides, as my father-in-law used to say “one who talks shit, eats shit”.

You will have days you don’t want to homeschool. You will be exhausted. You may even raise your voice with one of those little blessings. It is the same little blessing who you want to instill a love of learning in. Maybe you’re different than I and you won’t raise your voice. But, maybe you will. It will be okay. If they didn’t know it already, your children will learn you are human. They will learn exactly which buttons to push and how to push them efficiently at all the wrong times. You will all learn the meaning of consequences.

You will be brought to your knees. When you bend down to look a child in the eye, hoping it helps explain a difficult concept. You will fall to pick up a wounded child – wounded in a sibling battle that rang out through a “wonderful” homeschooling day. You will stumble to your knees when your ankle twists as you step on a pile of legos. Lastly, at the end of the day, you will fall to your knees, before God, because you have been humbled, frustrated, challenged, rewarded, and blessed by those children. Get used to being on your knees – it’s a favorite place for homeschooling moms.

You will blow off school. This is why we homeschool. Because we want the freedom to say “no, we don’t have to do that today”. There are some days your child will not “learn” academically. He won’t be in that “zone”. The best thing you can do, is respect that. Okay, but, as an adult, when we have those days, we have to pursue, and do it anyway – says the little voice in your head. Well, you’re right. We do. But, he doesn’t. He’s not an adult. So, minimize the tasks at hand, build him up for success, call it a day and go to the park, and later, to McDonald’s for supper.

Days like these, will alarm the analyticalized, standardized-testing, comparison-minded individuals surrounding us (i.e. husbands). We then, have to persevere, not only for ourselves, our children, but for our surrounding family. Just as we trust our bodies, to birth, breastfeed and then trust our children’s bodies to sit, crawl, teethe, walk and run, we must combine such trust with faith with homeschooling and learning. I don’t mean the faith that the sun will rise tomorrow, or the kind of faith that says, things are better at the light of day, I’m talking the kind of faith that says we know a man died on the cross for us and rose again 3 days later. It is a faith that learning takes time, learning doesn’t have to happen in just one institutionalized way. Learning happens when playing legos with a little brother, or spending quiet time outside under a shade tree – or (gasp!) at the park and McDonald’s. It’s like the amount of breastmilk a baby gets….how much each feeding? The answer is “enough”.

Whether you homeschool for one week, one month, a year or a lifetime, you will always cherish those days. You’ll remember them as the days you stopped time and spent it with your children. It’ll become the time the dishes piled in the sink for a long time and paper plates became a means of survival – because, well, because N had exams, was never home to study because the kids were there; the time you built teepees in the living room and let the kids sleep in them for a week because s was studying pre-Columbus native Americans; it’ll be the times you crawled to your bed, dragging a laughing e who came with you solely because he could maintain that latch; it’ll be the time you look back on and think…”Why did I worry? How much can they learn in elementary school anyway?”; although, I don’t know for sure, I suspect this is what it will be like.

You will grapple with things. Grapple with issues like peanut butter again or cereal for lunch? Grapple with beginnings and endings….did we study it enough, did we learn it? Is there more? Trust me, there’s always more…..they will tell you when it’s enough….

Much like I grapple with this letter, although I started it last spring, it wasn’t right to send it your way…it wouldn’t have made sense…but now is the time…however, this is not the end…(see: previous paragraph: grappling)…..

And now, this is the letter I told you about, I’m sending it today, a year later, because the Holy Spirit said, “It is time, and tell her to let N read it, too.” So, hey, it’s not just that I only now had the time to download it to a thumbnail drive and then transfer it to a puter where I can email it…it’s because God said “It is time, my daughters.”

Peas and love

i removed her name because i didn't ask her before i posted this. but i am forever grateful that she was courageous enough to write this and share her wisdom and honesty.


LanaTron said...

Thanks for sharing, mama.

JO said...


*Jess* said...

Wow, that was amazing and really touched me! I think you are right... our APU friend (really, all of them) need to hear this!

corscorp said...

You have a very nice, very smart friend. :)

lilizzyykittyymom said...

That's an awesome letter :) I am glad I read it and will probably come back to read it more. I have been a bit worried lately about hsing because it is becoming more real as she is now kindergarten age. But this letter is very inspiring and thank you for posting it.