Welcome to my musings...

After a 3 year hiatus from blogging (too busy parenting teens to have time to write about it!), I have decided to revive my blog. I look forward to sharing my perspective on mothering as I am at the tail end of my child-raising journey. Nothing could be more beautiful, more full of joy and pain and anguish, than the divine calling of motherhood. I pray my musings will bless you on your own journey, and that you will feel encouraged and equipped!

Friday, September 26, 2008

Whatever You Do, Don't Ask Me About...

Ever since we started homeschooling, I’ve been bombarded with questions everywhere we go. Checkers in the grocery store, other parents, curious neighbors all seem to feel led to ask me many questions about our choice to educate our children at home. I used to feel like an oddity whenever I’d take my children out in public with me in the middle of the day. I almost felt guilty, like we were doing something wrong and people were looking at us thinking, “Those children should be in school!” I found that there were many preconceived notions about what homeschooling families were like, and that while some were admiring of our choice, others were quite judgmental and disdainful of us.

Most of the time, people were genuinely curious about what our life looked like. I have to say, we received more positive comments than negative, (such as “Wow…that’s great. I wish I could do that.”), and people were usually supportive (“good for you”). Occasionally, however, someone would feel it necessary to give me their very biased opinion on why homeschoolers were ruining the public education system (excuse me?) and berate me soundly for pulling my children out of the government-run schools. I usually tried to move on as quickly as possible, before my temper overcame my Christian charity. Fortunately, those instances were few and far between, and I soon became comfortable going about our business, no matter what time of day it was that we were out in public.

I have found that I genuinely love it when people ask me legitimate questions about homeschooling. There is nothing that gives me more pleasure than mentoring a new homeschooling mother, sharing tips I have learned and helping with curriculum choices. I don’t mind people’s curiosity, either. I know we look different than the average family and that people want to know what we do every day. I love what we do, and am thrilled to share what we’ve learned and how it has dramatically changed our lives. I do have to confess, though, that there are questions that set my teeth on edge.

First, my very least favorite question about homeschooling…”But when do you have time for yourself?” I’d love to just answer with the truth, “Well, I seldom do”, but I wouldn’t want to scare off prospective homeschoolers with the unvarnished truth! The truth is, yes, I’m very busy. If I’m not teaching my kids, I’m grading their work or planning for the next day’s or week’s lessons. If, by chance, I’m caught up on all of that, then there is always laundry to do or bathrooms to clean. But, honestly, so what? We have chosen to home educate our kids because we feel it is what God has called us to do. We think it is best for them and best for our family. How could that possibly compare with time for myself, to scrapbook or go shopping or get my nails done? I love my kids, and I love spending time with them. Sure, there are days when I’d love to just go to the bathroom without hearing, “Mo-o-o-o-m!” outside the door. But God has given me an understanding that the day will come, all too soon, when my job as a mother will be complete. Maybe then, there will be time for things I enjoy doing. But for now, my job is to teach and disciple my children, and I will happily devote myself to that task. Does that make me a saint? Of course not. I confess there are times when I hide in my closet (it’s a BIG closet) to have private phone conversations with my friends, or times when I beg my husband for a few hours off by myself, which he graciously provides. But I refuse to buy into Satan’s lie that I deserve “my time” when God has bountifully provided three beautiful children who need me, and are so much more important than anything else I could choose to do with my time. Because I asked Him for it, He has also given me a true love for homeschooling. It is definitely the hardest task I have ever undertaken, but I truly enjoy both the process and the results I see in our family.

Another question I cringe upon hearing is this: “How can you do that? I could never do that.” My answer to that one is: Yes, you can. God has never asked us to do anything that He is not willing to provide the ability or character to fulfill. If God calls you to homeschool your children, it doesn’t matter if you are a gifted teacher, or extraordinarily patient…He is all of those things and He is able to do “immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us” (Eph. 3:20). Don’t miss out on a huge blessing that God could have for your family because of fear or feeling incapable. If God can slay a giant through a little boy named David, surely He can render you capable of teaching your children! After all, public schools have only been around for a couple of hundred years…for centuries before that, parents taught their children at home. I’m sure that all those parents weren’t “natural” homeschoolers!

The one question that is probably the most commonly heard by homeschoolers is this: “But what about socialization?” The definition of socialization is “the adoption of the behavior patterns of the surrounding culture”. Our answer to this question is simply this: We choose to have our children socialized by us, and by well-chosen companions, not by their peers. Proverbs 13:20 says, “He who walks with the wise grows wise, but a companion of fools suffers harm.” We have no desire for our children to look like the surrounding culture. Our children have plenty of friends, and are very comfortable spending time with not only their peers, but adults as well.

On the lighter side, here are some questions I have actually been asked:
--“Do you really only have 3 children? I thought all you homeschoolers had 12 children!” (Many homeschoolers do have large families since we view children as a blessing, not a curse—God chose to bless us with three.)
--“Don’t you homeschoolers all grind your own wheat and bake your own bread?” (Nope…whatever wheat bread is on sale is what graces our table.)
--“What went wrong at your house? Your kids are so polite.” (This one left me speechless.)
--“How did your kids get so smart?” (Yes, that one insulted me.)
--“Aren’t you worried that you can’t teach them high school?” (Well, I graduated high school and college with honors, so I must know something! Surely I haven’t forgotten everything I learned, or how to look up what I don’t know.)

So, if you’re curious about homeschooling, please feel free to talk to me. Just, please, keep in mind that we are just like you…trying to do the best we can for the children we love. And, please…don’t ask me when I have time for myself.


Michael G. said...

As I have said many times before, I love the fruit which God has blessed you with in your family. Your labor has not been in vain. It has blessed your dad and me with well-behaved, respectful, caring, and, yes, intelligent grandchildren. We are proud to show them off anytime!


Carletta said...

Great post! The one annoying question I always get asked is, "So, does the school system give you lesson plans? Don't you have to get them tested?" I actually don't mind the question, it is the shocked reaction I get when I answer, "No, we don't have to report to anyone," that I find annoying.

SmallWorld at Home said...

Great post! For this question: “How can you do that? I could never do that.” --I always have to bite my tongue not to respond with, "How can you send your kids to public school?" But I just smile and answer nicely.

Marbel said...

Very nice post! When people say "I could never do that" I say "I could never get my kids on the bus with packed lunches."

Dana said...

I enjoyed reading your post AND your beautiful poem on your sidebar. I recently had a checkout clerk at a grocery store that I don't frequent comment that my homeschooled children looked "healthy". Wow- how do you respond to that!

~Dana @ oursunnyside

mavibu said...

I'm just getting started on my homeschool journey. I find that when talking about it, I'm walking on eggshells so as not to offend those who public school. Then I realized THEY don't walk on eggshells so as not to offend me with their opinions! So the gloves are off now...