comments 5

Before It Passes

We wake up in the morning, every morning, to a mad dash. Squirt mustard on bread, start coffee, fumble through the deli drawer for lunch meat, fight with plastic wrapping around the box of juice boxes, find lunch boxes, see incomplete homework on the table (now dotted with milk drippings and soggy Cheerios), and shoes! Why don’t you have your shoes on yet? Lila, your hair! Grab a brush, bring it to the car, Backpacks! Go, go, go, now, now, now, mooooove!

Our lives are divided by bus routines, cluttered by paperwork, by needing to pass our parenting decisions through the proper channels (I’m sorry, but no, Alex will not be in school today. Why? Because I said so. That ought to be good enough, seeing as I am his mother.)

Thing is, I have always had a beef with public school, or with the powers that be forcing me to conform their ways. I resented having to go to school for such long hours, when most of what I felt like I was ever doing was staring out the windows, watching cars drive past and wondering what the world was actually like.

I tested well. I collected my honor roll rewards from my parents. I received praise on my report cards.

But, the truth is, I have retained approximately zero of what I was supposed to have learned in high school. Sad to say, I believe I have retained very little of what I learned in college either. My brain doesn’t hold information for very long if it is only processed via lectures and notes and test-taking.

I know this, because I cannot tell you much of what I learned in AP American History, but I can tell you, in detail (and even some broken Romanian) about Romanian culture and the country where I spent a semester in college. You see, I did not sit in classrooms, I worked with people, I spoke with people, and I learned out of a true desire and need. As it turns out, I need to live, to learn.

And now, as a parent, I find myself again being asked to conform our very busy, very family-centric lives into this small one-size fits all box that doesn’t seem to have changed at all (for the better) since they first put me in it years ago.

There’s a scene in the movie My Best Friend’s Wedding when Julia Roberts and Dermot Mulroney are on a ferry where she feels the weight of a moment as it’s passing. On one side of the bridge is possibility, the other, a closed door. The moment opened, presented itself, then closed.

I’m feeling this weight more and more so these past few weeks, though not in terms of a lost romance or missed relationship (still quite happy with Vinnie, and expect to stay that way), but in terms of my children.

This coming year feels like a bridge moment for us. We are hoping to be moving and will most likely be leaving this town. Pulling our kids from one school system to another mid-school year doesn’t seem very fair.

And their ages now seem to be perfectly aligned to start. At eight, Alex is responsible, a good learner and a good teacher for his siblings. At six, Lila has the basics down and does well when working with Alex. Asher is four and will just be starting preschool, he pulls himself up to the table whenever the kids do their homework, curious and wanting to participate himself. And Evaline, well, she could do with some more structured family time as well.

To have more control over our family, over how and when and where they learn, would be wonderful. That they could learn more in a few hours here than in the seven that they spend away from home, that they could still participate in any social clubs or sports teams, that we could structure our lives around, well, our lives, sounds perfect.

In fact, it all sounds well and good and daydreaming of the fall, being free from the strings and logistics of running on the public school’s plan, it all makes me eager to just get there. To start. To jump off into this adventure, arms wide open.

Then again, not so fast.

Because the reality is this: I am not a teacher. I do not have the skill set or the patience to do the job of a public school teacher. I am terrified of messing up. I am nervous about being forced to sit down and go head-to-head with my strong willed daughters. I am anxious about being lazy, about being busy, about all of the hundreds of thousands of ways I could make a complete mess of this entire situation.

Not to even mention that most days, I count the minutes until my husband comes home, clinging to whatever shred of sanity I have left after hours of trying to cram my full time job and mothering and general household duties into every moment of the day. As irritating as it is to get my kids onto that bus, It’s just so easy at the same time. And sometimes, let’s be honest, easy sounds pretty nice.

Yet, when this paper arrived yesterday in my son’s backpack, my heart was moved again. Best Fit?

What is the “best fit” for my child? For my children? It’s a fantastic question. It’s THE question. They are certainly not one-size-fits-all, and I believe they deserve a better, broader understanding of what life-long learning means, of what education means.

And while if we do go ahead and do this homeschool thing, I am certain we will have many, many failing moments, and that my children will be leading and educating me nearly as much as I am them, I cannot in my heart find a better answer to the question of what is the “best fit” for my child than wherever God leads.

And flawed as I am, terrified as I am, I want to be obedient to whatever it is that He places on m heart as best for my family.


  1. Karen L

    I believe strongly children learn best when doing, seeing, feeling and experiencing. I encourage you to do the homeschooling. Even if for one year. You may find it doesn’t work for one child, but works well for another. Every child is different. It may work for a few years, but not beyond that. A family across the street from my mother’s home schooled only 2 of 5 children. The other 3 did very well in the schools they were placed in. The kids will still receive opportunities to participate in sports & extra activities through the public schools. You, will likely have to meet with the principal of the school they would attend if they were in public schools to go over curriculum to make sure they stay on track. There are wonderful homeschool kits that aren’t overly expensive that can get you started.

    • Thanks, Karen. My sister-in-law homeschools her children (all eight-going-on-nine of them) and has had great success. I also have good friends here at church who are homeschooling too, every family does it differently and that’s what I like about it.

      I believe NH’s laws regarding homeschooling are different and I won’t need to consult the school with my choice of curriculum or do any mandatory paperwork for them, though I do need to research this further. (If it is the case, it’s just one more reason fro me to love NH.)

  2. Brenda

    I will be interested to hear what you decide. I have gone over this many times in my head and wondered if I could and if I should. My older girls are well on their way in school and I feel in the older grades with the different teachers they can get more than I am capable of but I still wonder…
    Molly did not go to pre-school, I taught her and a friends’ daughter numbers and math and my friend did letters, reading and writing, it gave them some social time and learning time without going to pre-school.
    I will be going through all of these thoughts again soon for Kacey, I should probably start thinking about it now, I don’t make decisions easily or quickly!

  3. Mella, I too would highly encourage homeschooling. If the Lord is prompting you in this direction, it is for a reason.
    While you might at first be nervous about how well you can teach, you will be surprised at how much of your education comes back to you. If you are already managing a full time job, trust me, this you can handle.
    Yes, there are days when things get a little crazy. Yes, there are times we all need a moment to breathe. However, what we receive in return is worth those moments of discomfort. Our children will have amazing memories and stronger ties to their family. They will learn in a way which fits them best (and actually takes less time). Most importantly, their relationship with their God will grow and the foundations of their faith will be solidified.
    Managing all our responsibilities can be a challenge, but we quickly learn to develop routines and make it all work. Even homeschooling the higher grades is workable. Most junior colleges allow high school students to join in for classes, this gives them high school and college credits at the same time!
    Keep it in prayer, that the Lord would give you very clear directions and that your husband would be behind you 100%, no matter the decision. We’ll keep this prayer for you too! Keep us posted on how things progress.
    Once the Lord opens the doors, the rest is just details and God is great with details.

  4. Mel

    This is a VERY interesting blog. First off, I am an advocate of homeschooling. I’m leaning very strongly towards it for my 3 yo. My mother, a teacher, homeschooled my brother and I for quite a while and I thoroughly enjoyed it.
    However, the teacher in me (ironic that I’m a former teacher, huh) in me cringes at the thought of some people homeschooling. I fully believe, from everything I read of you, that you will do a wonderful job! The fact that you express doubts is good! It will make you think and plan more. It will tear down the box and open new doors for you and your kids.
    The ones I worry about are those that brush off all worries, their kids end up spending all day doing everything BUT schoolwork!
    I’d love for you to keep us updated on curriculum choices & the such (I’m already stressing about this for Hila Fay).

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