A few months back, I got an email from a homeschooling mother of little ones. She was frustrated about her homeschooling efforts. The following was my response to her.
Dear young homeschooling mother,
Before I share my thoughts, please know that I am not trying to "talk down" to you, or belittle the struggles you're having. I know they are real, and that you just want to be the best mom you can be. After 14 years of homeschooling, 19 years of parenting, and birthing 12 children, I just want to help young moms like you who are feeling like you will never measure up-- I've BEEN you! ;-)
Ideals are good, goals are good, high hopes are good. But we live in a telestial world on borrowed time, and we simply can't do it all!!! I'm not talking about giving up, I'm talking about not expecting the celestial to happen regularly in a fallen world. We have celestial moments, yes! But they are few and far between. And that makes them all the sweeter when they DO happen.
There will be books you and your kids will never read, knowledge they will never scratch the surface of, topics you will NEVER get to. That's what LIFE is for! Kids learn more at home than they ever will in school. Life is learning. It happens whether or not a child is at a desk working.
You have little ones, and I know it seems that they need to know everything right now. But you all have TIME. The things that REALLY matter need to happen now; love, trust, kindness, security, wonder, joy, family, truth. If little ones don't learn those lessons in their formative years-- those years when they learn the most with the easiest amount of effort-- they won't be able to make good choices when they are older. Academics are good, but those early years are so precious. I am trying to keep my priorities in the right place.
Trust me. My teens have reinforced this to me over and over again. (Good thing I have lots of other kids to work on!) Now, don't misunderstand me, my big kids are wonderful! (Ages 19, 17, 16, 14, 12) They are doing good things, making good choices. But I see all their flaws, and I see where I could have done better. So I'm going to try again with the younger ones. :-)
Two things I read today helped me keep things in perspective, and I hope that they can help you, too. The first is a wonderful article about mistaken parenting habits we American parents keep perpetuating:
Article: American Parents Have Got It All Backwards
The second is something a friend shared on Facebook recently:
For the days we are running on empty. For the days we just don't think we have it in us to read one more story, play one more game of Uno, wash one more round of sheets. For the days when we think everyone else has it together. For the days we're sure anyone else would do this job better.
For those days. You know the ones.
Repeat after me:
1. I shall not judge my house, my kid's summer activities or my crafting skills by Pinterest's standards.
2. I shall not measure what I've accomplished today by the loads of unfolded laundry but by the assurance of deep love I've tickled into my kids.
3. I shall say yes to blanket forts and see past the chaos to the memories we're building.
4. I shall surprise my kids with trips to get ice cream when they're already in their pajamas.
5. I shall not compare myself to other mothers but find my identity in the God who trusted me with these kids in the first place.
6. I shall remember that a messy house at peace is better than an immaculate house tied up in knots.
7. I shall play music loudly and teach my kids the joy of wildly uncoordinated dance.
8. I shall remind myself that perfect is simply a street sign at the intersection of impossible and frustration in Never Never land.
9. I shall embrace the fact that in becoming a mom I traded perfect for a house full of real.
10. I shall promise to love this body that bore these three children out loud, especially in front of my daughter.
11. I shall give my other mother friends the gift of guilt-free friendship.
12. I shall do my best to admit to my people my unfine moments.
13. I shall say sorry when sorry is necessary.
14. I pray God I shall never be too proud, angry or stubborn to ask for my children's forgiveness.
15. I shall make space in my grown-up world for goofball moments with my kids.
16. I shall love their father and make sure they know I love him.
17. I shall model kind words to kids and grown-ups alike.
18. I shall not be intimidated by the inside of my minivan this season of chip bags, goldfish crackers and discarded socks too shall pass.
19. I shall always make time to encourage new moms.
20. I shall not resent that last call for kisses and cups of water but remember instead that when I blink they'll all be in college.
... with love from one tired mother to another.
I can promise you that your little ones will learn all they need to know for their lives. Just let go and give them to the Lord. TRUST the answers you receive. Your children are the Lord's first, and your's second.
Stop second-guessing your decisions and your choices. Move forward with faith.
LOVE your little ones. Laugh with them. Pray with them. Dance with them. Splash in puddles, read books out loud, and just sit back and appreciate who they are. They will NOT leave your home as ignoramuses, unsure how to function in the world. THEY WILL BE FINE.
God trusts you with His little ones, so why shouldn't you?
You do NOT have to finish the curriculum. The curriculum should conform to your family's needs. You do not have to beat yourself up for going on a nature walk that runs into "math time." You do not have to be perfect.
YOU DO NOT HAVE TO BE PERFECT.
Which is good, because you won't be. ;-)
Trust Father. That's enough.