For Hard Homeschooling Days

Originally published Monday, 07 August 2017.

Whenever I meet someone new, they inevitably ask what grade my children are in and what school they attend. When I answer that we homeschool, I often hear in response, "I thought about homeschooling once. For about five minutes. I decided not to because I just don't have the patience. I am impressed with anyone who can do it."

I smile and nod. Sometimes I leave it at that. Other times I tell them the truth, "Yes, it is hard. In fact, I quit about once a week." This usually makes them laugh.

But really, I do quit once a week.

To be honest, homeschooling isn't hard just because my patience gets stretched. It's hard because everything is stretched. The longer I do it, the more I realize what I've sacrificed. Because I homeschool, it means I'm not employed in my profession, the one I worked so hard to learn and attain. Because I homeschool, I miss out on engaging with other adults. People are often concerned that children who are homeschooled miss out on social interactions. The truth is, I miss out on social interactions. There are ministry opportunities I can't participate in. Not only that, but it's hard to squeeze in all the necessary things of life when your day is filled with lessons—like personal doctor's appointments. 

When my kids are having a hard day, when they resist their school work, when neither of us can figure out a math problem even after trying for an entire hour, when I'm tired, and when the day seems to drag on forever, I sometimes want to quit and take back my normal adult life. 

But then I remember all that my children have learned these past six years. I look at their academic growth and progress and I'm amazed at what they've learned and what we've all learned together. I reflect on the amazing things we've been able to see, do, and experience. The fantastic books we've read. The wonders of God's world we've explored. The Bible verses we've studied and memorized. The missionaries we've learned about. The ways my children have been able to stretch and move beyond a box like subject, age, or grade.

And especially when my kids turn to me and say, "Thanks Mom. I'm glad we are homeschooled."

Some might say, "Well if it's so hard, why don't you give up?" The truth is, anything we are called to do in life is not going to be easy. We shouldn't resist things simply because they are hard. If we did, no one would run a marathon, no one would finish medical school, and the gospel would not have spread beyond the walls of Jerusalem.

I never expected to homeschool and in fact, used to scoff at the idea. And I probably used to say the same things that people now say to me. Yes, homeschool is hard. No, it's not for everyone. It doesn't fit every family's situation. It's not the best educational option for every child. But it's also not something to give up simply because it is hard.

Whatever task God calls us to, we can be sure that He will be our wisdom and strength. He will make us sufficient for the work He gives us. We are weak vessels and nothing highlights that more than homeschooling—or parenting for that matter. Yet, God's glory shines as he works through us, doing the impossible through unlikely people.

Will I want to quit homeschooling next week? Maybe. Possibly. Will we homeschool until my children graduate? Maybe. Possibly. I really can't say. If we stop, it won't be because it's hard. It would be because God has called us elsewhere. Which, in all reality, will also be hard. God isn't concerned about what's easy for me or easy for my kids, but about what is best for our holiness. Whatever he calls us to, wherever he directs us, it will all be used to make us more like Christ.  

So the next time someone says, "I don't know how you do it. You must have the patience of a saint," perhaps I should say, "Actually, I don't. But if we keep at it, that might be just what God develops in me!"