I was homeschooled and I loved it. My mother was passionate about homeschooling and viewed it as her chosen vocation when my siblings and I were growing up.
All my best friends were homeschooled by women who were as passionate and dedicated as my mother.
Although I don’t remember it being said in so many words, I somehow gleaned this message in my growing up years, a message about motherhood and truly loving your children.
It went something like this: Good mothers homeschool their children. If you really love your children, you will homeschool them.
After all, my mother really loved us and she really loved to homeschool. And I loved being homeschooled. It was just logical.
I loved to learn and I loved everything “school.”
My children would too.
But my twins were not like me.
I had to bribe them to sit and listen to me read; they hated coloring, and could not care less about the “Letter O” worksheet. Trying to teach them to write their names usually ended with somebody crying. They struggled to hold scissors and were bored with clay and play dough.
Frustration and impatience ruled my days.
But I was determined. I would be a good mother. I Just needed to be more creative.
I doubted my abilities to teach them. But dug down even deeper and tried harder, harder.
But nothing worked.
They resisted me at every turn.
I finally gave up. I reached an all-time educational low: I resorted to a DVD to teach them phonics (“LeapFrog Letter Factory”) and what do you know? They loved it. And it worked.
All I could do was shake my head and say, “Whatever. Whatever.”
But it hurt because I realized a DVD was doing a better job than I was.
The year they turned 5 I reached a terrifying crossroad: Homeschool or public school?
The pressure was crushing:
Good mothers homeschool their children.
If you want the best education for your children, you will homeschool.
If you really love your children, you would want to homeschool.
But I had tried and tried and tried to do all the right things and at the end of the day, it was just too hard. We chose Public School. I tried to put on a brave, happy face but I felt like a failure.
Public school was a good fit. My boys loved it and we were blessed with amazing teachers.
Maybe my boys learn better from other people, I conceded.
The summer before first grade I was determined that Kindergarten would not fall out of their brains so I made them practice their new-found reading, math, and hand writing skills each day.
And most days, it was awful. Sure, we had some good moments, but overall, the frustration, head-butting, and fights over those stupid summer lessons, chip, chip, chipped away at my mother-worth.
I felt like I wasn’t enough. If I was, then I would homeschool, because that is what good, dedicated, passionate, creative mothers did. And I knew (or I hoped) I was all of those things but the disconnect between myself and my sons infuriated and baffled me.
The first week of first grade, my wounded soul came pouring out at a ladies church group.
I burst into tears. It was the angst of back to school, of doubting the public school decision again, and the fact that 9/10 of my personal friends homeschooled their kids: why couldn’t I?
“I don’t feel like a good mom…because I don’t even want to homeschool!” I wiped my cheeks and shrugged. “But, I mean, really. If I homeschooled my boys, I would kill them!” A laugh bubbled out of me and everyone at the table joined me.
A wise, older woman–-a mother, grandmother, and long-time teacher–-quickly quipped, “Well, then–-there you have it. You love your kids enough not to homeschool.”
We all laughed at her cleverness but the truth of her words shocked me. A peace slowly began to sooth that long-forged wound.
The peace grew deeper when we learned that Benji has a language processing learning disability.
Then my hindsight sharpened to 20/20 when Benji was diagnosed with Autism and Micah with ADHD.
Slowly and suddenly, all our struggles from all those years just made sense.
My sons’ needs are complex, both as individuals and twins, but their needs are being met in their separate classrooms with their great teachers and support staff at their public school. Someday, our situation may change, and another schooling option may be best. But for now, public school is exactly what they need.
It’s exactly what I need.
I have finally accepted the truth:
I love my children, but I don’t need to homeschool to prove it to them…or myself.