I am in the middle of my 13th year of homeschooling. Actually, to be precise, I am past the midpoint of this year and more towards the END of my 13th year of homeschooling. But, who (other than a homeschool mom looking forward to the summer months of NO school) needs to get technical?
Thirteen years. Throughout the years I have experienced, what I have found to be, the stereotypical homeschool mom emotional rollercoaster.
Feeling ahead of the game.
Just dropped the ball.
Mom of the year.
Please, just don't call CPS.
Homeschooling is the way to go.
Let's interview the principal of the Christian school.
Can we call back that yellow school bus?
We could go on and on, but you get it. You've been on the same ride.
During my first 5 years of homeschooling, I was either pregnant or nursing (sometimes, both). During my first 10 years of homeschooling, I had at least one toddler to keep busy at all times. I have a child that I think has some learning challenges, while I have a couple who seem to border on genius. (To be truthful, I am not sure which is more difficult - figuring out the best way for the challenged child to learn or trying to teach children who are smarter that I).
While most days I felt we were doing the right thing by homeschooling, most days I feared what the outcome would be.
Would my children know enough to go on to college?
Would they be able to hold down a job?
Would they still love me when it was all over?
We had sick days and weeks off when a new baby came home. When I was exhausted, we would just take a day off (when the oldest were younger). We did workbooks. We did Unit Studies. We muddled through jr. hi. science. We spent a lot of money and a year on a Math program that ended up being worthless. I made them sit at the table until their work was done, until late at night. Other days, I just told them to put it away - a better alternative than wringing their necks.
I felt like I was walking this path in very dim light. I couldn't see the end...I just had to hope. And, somedays, I had little hope.
Last year, my oldest graduated. I will be honest and say that he has been my most challenging student. A lot of that was because he's my oldest and I really didn't believe I knew what I was doing. Part of it was his personality - namely, he just would rather do anything but school. However, he's worked full-time for almost a year. He's succeeding, his bosses are happy with him, he works crazy hours, but is faithful to his job. And, he often buys me treats when he drives to the store and he enjoys telling me about work and his time with friends. This - from a kid I thought for sure would hate me when it was all over.
This year, my second child will graduate. She has spent her senior year earning dual-credits at the community college getting her pre-requisits done for her intended field of study. She is doing very well and all of her professors are quite happy with her. She also works hard on her cousin's farm in the summer and is currently awaiting the birth of several kids from her growing herd of goats.
My third child will finish her senior year next year, but because she will only be 16 and months away from her 17th birthday, she will not have her ceremony until the following year. She has always been a fantastic student, schedules her own schooling and gets it finished, and gets good grades - even from classes taught by other teachers. She excels in writing and pushes herself to do her best. She has worked several jobs in the past couple of years and is extremely social. She is on the road to success.
I am not bragging about my children. I am grateful for the grace of God. He gave me the strength to keep going and now He is rewarding me by allowing me to see success. With these first successes, I feel more confident as I continue to teach the four remaining children. I still push my kids to do their best, but I don't stress about the same things. I have relaxed much more in some areas, while firming up in others. I know I am not guaranteed anything, but I do know that God has shown Himself faithful and that there is tremendous blessing that comes with picking up that ball each time you drop it. There is reward in sticking with it.
Young homeschool mom, while I know it is almost impossible not to fret, try not to.
Keep at it.
Keep loving your children as no one else can.
One day, you will stand next to that tall boy or graceful girl as you hand them their diploma and realize that you both made it. All the days that seem so long will blur together through your tears as you realize the fine, successful young person they have become.
Trust me. I know.