Monday, October 18, 2010

Does Happy Homeschooling = No Worries?

The short answer is no. The long answer is a blog post.

I am a happy homeschooler. But "happy" is not equivalent to slaphappy or to sporting a perpetual smile.  I was thinking about this today as I batted a few worries around in my happy head. I wasn't feeling particularly chipper as I thought about:
  • math
  • ACT scores
  • teaching cursive to an eight-year-old
  • balancing my unschoolish approach with my husband's English teacher ways
  • a daughter taking online classes at the community college
  • a daughter who suddenly cares about a grade
  • a daughter who rightly and admirably cares about her grade
  • a daughter who isn't 8 years old anymore
  • needing bifocals (me, not the daughter)
  • trying to be everything to everyone every day
  • feeling that there's never enough time for all my roles and that I want to hire a stunt double
Let's be clear: homeschooling is not perfect. It can inspire cloudbursts of anxiety, worry, doubt, insecurity and fear about the future. (I suppose parents who send their kids to school could say the same thing? That any parent could say the same thing of parenting?) Homeschooling sometimes feels overwhelming, and then I begin to  wonder if I'm up to it, if I can give my kids all that they need.

Then, I remember that we are to pray, "Protect us from all anxiety." And so that's what I pray:

"Protect me, Jesus, from the fear that I can't do it all. Because I can't. That's why I need You."

As Scripture tells me:
Have no anxiety about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which passes all understanding, will keep your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
-- Philippians 4:6-7
It also helps to have a husband who listens, friends who listen, a confessor who listens. St. Francis de Sales knew that:
The heart finds relief in telling its troubles to another, just as the body when suffering from persistent fever finds relief from bleeding. It is the best of remedies, and therefore it was that S. Louis counselled his son, "If thou hast any uneasiness lying heavy on thy heart, tell it forthwith to thy confessor, or to some other pious person, and the comfort he will give will enable thee to bear it easily."
                            -- Introduction to the Devout Life

St. Thomas Aquinas also apparently knew a few homeschooling mothers:
Sorrow can be alleviated by good sleep, a bath and a glass of wine.

Being a happy homeschooler does not mean I'll never feel sorrow, anxiety, worry or dread. I have. I do. I will.

It does mean knowing where to turn when those spectors try to haunt. Jesus gives -- and He is -- the best of advice.

Happy homeschooling for me is not a mood or a mindless game or a steady, even course. It is a way of living, though -- of trusting, and of getting up each day and starting again, knowing that I'm not in charge.


Sara said...


Faith said...

Such a good post! I love St. Thomas Aquinas' line!

Laura O said...

Karen ~ what an inspired post on homeschooling! I guess we could say that life in general is never going to be happy in a Disney Movie way. After a few weeks of visiting relatives who ALL went on and on about why my boys should be in school, I really needed to read someone else's thoughts on worries homeschoolers might have.

I'm tagging you in a fun meme on my blog and hope you'll participate. Here's the post with the details:

Danae said...

If you need some chocolate cake, just give me a call!

Anonymous said...

@Danae--"I" need some chocolate cake!!! :D

Karen, I know you don't know it, or me, but God used you (and the lady who forwarded this post to me) to bless my heart when it was hurting. Thank you. :)

Suzanne Temple, FCPI said...

This is wonderful, Karen. I'm bookmarking it now.

Sally Thomas said...

Boy, do I hear you. I especially hear "math" and "ACT" scores. Right now I'm trying not to think about all those claims about homeschoolers and higher test scores, because sometimes, even with bright kids and reasonably not-stupid parents, things don't fall out quite that way. (Can you tell you've really taken my pulse here?)

Yet we're happy. And hopeful. And, thanks to your timely reminder, not alone.

Karen E. said...

Sally. Yes. It was no accident that "math" and "ACT" were next to each other on the list.

Let's have some chocolate cake. Danae, bring it over and join us. You come, too, Anonymous. :)

And thanks so much to all of you who commented -- such kind notes! Thank you!

Nicole said...

Hi, Karen, I think I'm new to commenting here. (I read often though.) Do you by any chance have a more precise attribution for that saying by St. Thomas Aquinas? I'm lifting it anyway for my quotation collection, but I'd love to read it in its original setting!

Kelly said...

Fantastic post, Karen! Thank you so much. It's good to know that I'm really not alone in my not so "happy" moments.

God bless.

Karen E. said...

Thanks, Kelly.

And Nicole, I have no idea if he actually said anything of the sort. :) I've long seen this quote attributed to St. Thomas, but I've never seen an attribution to original source. Wine companies seem to believe he said it. ;)

Jen said...

When a homeschooling mom is having a worrisome week it helps to talk to another homeschooling mom. I've made the mistake of talking with a "pious" public school mom and found no comfort. Just a quick admonishment about our desire to homeschool and how it doesn't work forever.