Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Zoom Out: It's the Big Picture That Matters

The other day in a Facebook group, a friend linked to this great, old post from Sarah McKenzie, and a few of us then talked about how important it is to keep the big picture in mind (and that applies not only to homeschooling but to parenting in general, and to life.)

I'm a big fan of the big picture. Bad days have a way of tricking us into thinking the picture is minute, localized, and doomed. Sarah's post reminded me of an old post of mine, so I shared it with my friends, and am sharing it here today.


Does Happy Homeschooling = No Worries?
(I originally posted this October 18, 2010 -- my girls were 16, 14, and 8.)  

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.


Christy from fountains of home said...

So good! I needed to read this today! Or everyday. Thanks Karen!

Karen Edmisten said...

Thanks, Christy! As always, I am preaching to myself, and when it helps someone else, so much the better! :)