“The most extraordinary thing in the world is an ordinary man and an ordinary woman and their ordinary children." G K Chesterton

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Three Easy Pieces

When I started homeschooling I approached it with all the brashness of youth. I was super-confident that it was the only way to go and that it almost guaranteed that all my children would turn out to be a cut above.

I began reading aloud chapter books to my oldest when he was 5 and his Kindergarten year still brings back fond memories. We went fishing everyday at lunch time.

Things went along pretty well until I had my 5th child and then I entered about 10 years of intense child-bearing, child-rearing and pretending to farm.  One year I gave up completely on Morning Time and regret it to this day. Why didn't I give up math or science or that blasted farm? One year I bought Lifepacs for everyone. Everything was an experiment as far as our school went. Each year I tried whatever new thing I could afford. But except for that one year, I kept Morning Time.

The last 10 years things began to change. The boys started to grow up. 10 years ago they all lived at home. There were no more babies waking me up in the middle of the night, and then no more diapers and then one day I had taught all 9 of my children to read and to this day I consider that my greatest life achievement. But things were still very intense, even more intense.  Launching children into the world is stressful. Give me a toddler any day.

Over all these years some of my students have been easy to teach and some difficult. Almost across the board 12th grade homeschool has felt like a giant tug of war with some give and take on all parts and anger and tears and second guessing.

Over those 10 years I lost all of my confidence, hubris and bravado about homeschooling. I squiggled and squirmed and looked for a way of escape and then mostly just muddled through.

And you know, all of sudden it seemed like everything was all right. None of my boys so far have grown up to be nerdy professors but they really did learn to understand and appreciate the value of learning.   During the last 10 years boys have left our home to do all sorts of things most of them pretty amazing and dangerously worrisome. We have had 3 weddings and now almost 7 grandchildren. 3 are still in college playing baseball.

For years I was the mom with a homeschool of 7 or 8 students and a toddler.  To tell the truth when moms with only a couple of students were weary, I didn't quite get it. Of course, it only takes one difficult child to disrupt a homeschool. 

But this semester my school dropped from 4 students to 3. 3 easy pieces. It feels so good! Suddenly I am not madly treading water or standing at the edge of a cliff waving my arms in an insane attempt to steady myself from falling to the depths below.  In 10 short years I went from overwhelming intensity to normalcy.  Most days I am happy with what we have accomplished.

For years I went to bed deeply aware of all that had not happened during the day that should have. It was a bad feeling. And yet in spite of all the subjects I missed and holes I left in the education of my children, it still turned out all right. And now I know that even though I have everything nicely laid out and working well, that is not what really matters after all. Don't get me wrong. I LOVE IT but is not the thing.

The thing is that we are a Christian family and we live and love and learn, all of us, near and far, everyday, good times and bad. Homeschooling didn't save us after all; Jesus did that. But I am thankful God blessed us with this life.


  1. Thank you. As a weary mom of just a few, I appreciate the encouragement.

  2. Ah, the brashness of youth... without it,we would never be brave enough to begin the most worthwhile things of our lives!

  3. Amen to all of that, sister.

    From joy to joy,

  4. "Homeschooling didn't save us after all; Jesus did that."

    AMEN! (Speaking as someone who started with a goofy notion that homeschooling would produce "perfect" children.)


  5. Very well said...thank you for the encouragement. I say "amen" to teaching all of them to read. That is my fall-back position: I've taught all five to read...if we do nothing else, they can learn on their own. : )

  6. Cindy, how I thank you! I only have four children, but I am in those years where most days I feel like I am failing. I want to relax and treasure every moment, but I feel such weight of responsibility for them! Thankfully, I do have an encouraging husband and a couple of other encouragers in my life, but I don't want to wear everyone out talking about it every day. I try to encourage myself in the Lord, as David did. It is SUCH a blessing when moms that have grown children share encouraging words! By the way, what did you think of Lifepacs?

  7. I've been meaning to write and thank you, Cindy, and this post reminded me. You've helped me focus on what's most important, and I love that your boys have grown up as they have (says the daughter of a Marine, wife of a veteran and former SWAT team sniper, and mother of rugby players). God bless you for taking the time to encourage those of us still madly treading water. :o) It helps immensely.

    P.S. Your TV post made me laugh. Psych, Downton Abbey, and Justified are our must-watch shows here.

  8. My mom did a year of Lifepacs, also.

    Thanks for the encouragement. I feel like I *should* be able to have everything working well, since it *was* all nicely laid out. I'm wondering if it's even possible to have nicely laid plans work out when there are preschoolers and toddlers in the mix. I've been looking at "keep your toddler busy" ideas lately, and all I can do is either laugh or cry. They are all only for toddler girls, I swear. I just extricated my almost-2yo-son from a tangle with an upside down chair. Baby gates wouldn't slow him down and he'd rather put beans down the vent than sort them into muffin tins. Can I wait 2 more years before attempting homeschool again? The oldest will only be 5th grade by then. Sigh. There'd probably just be another up and coming toddler anyway. :) Math and reading happen. I'm turning into an unschooler, just like I knew I would, even though I fought it for so long. :)

    Just heard a crash, better run!

  9. "Homeschooling didn't save us after all; Jesus did that. But I am thankful God blessed us with this life. "

    Amen to that. I needed this encouragement today so thank you. I'm hoping for two easy pieces next year. In the meantime, I pray a lot, do the next thing, and trust God for the results. No matter how hard or tiring it gets though, I love this life and wouldn't trade it for anything.


  10. Thank you so much for this, Cindy. We're about to begin our school year again next week and I have 6 'students' plus a 3-year-old tornado and a 6-month-old. Last year was a bit of a nightmare, but good just the same. I enter this year with much trepidation but I know that the Lord called our family to this journey and I know (deep down, somewhere) He will equip us as we go but my 'confidence' is all gone. That's probably just as it should be. Yes, Jesus is the One who saves us.

    May you have a wonderful year with your three 'pieces.' Thanks for the encouragement.

    In Him

    Meredith in Australia

  11. Laura,
    The Lifepacs were OK. We only got through about 3 of each subject, typical of all my efforts to do something against my nature.
    But I do think the concept of Lifepacs is a great idea for getting an overwhelming situation back on track.