The day I quit homeschooling didn’t feel particularly dramatic.
Still, relief poured over me as I called the little Montessori-inspired school and asked about enrolling my son after Christmas.
Because I was NOT cut out to homeschool.
I had given it an honest try. I had put my whole heart and soul into it, and it hadn’t worked at all.
I felt like I was pushing all the time, which was entirely against my nature.
And my kids were NOT doing what it said in the books and on the blogs. Oh – especially the blogs!
Every blog I looked at showed sweet little cherubs, sitting so peacefully, working together …
Not one showed kids arguing. They never showed a sweaty mom, trying to gather her children to read a book … exhausted from wrangling a couch-jumping 4-year-old and nursing a squirmy 1-year-old who wanted to dump blocks – not listen to a book originally written in 1377.
And I had reached out for help!
I had asked in the Yahoo group – “why won’t my kids …” and “what do you do if your children …”
And the results had been condescending and rude.
I was NOT Waldorf enough, they said, and so I couldn’t be in their club.
Forget that that particular Yahoo club was made up of people who seemed kind of mean and judgmental and harsh.
I still wanted in because of what it promised.
I wanted the peaceful children and the lazured walls and the bread-baking.
But I couldn’t handle it. I had tried for 4 whole months, and so that phone call … it was like hearing really good news from the doctor.
If we hadn’t been so broke, and it hadn’t been December, I would have taken everyone out for ice cream.
The worst day
The day when I finally decided it was all too much wasn’t particularly loud or stressful.
It wasn’t like I had a full-on meltdown.
In fact, my kids were quiet as I made the call to the little school, requesting enrollment.
People always tell homeschoolers “don’t quit on your worst day,” but this wasn’t really my worst day.
It took a lot of time for me to feel so defeated.
And now, looking back after 11+ years of homeschooling, I know where things went wrong:
- I was so terrified of not doing enough, that I tried to do everything. I pushed way too hard with kids who were too small.
- I didn’t have support. And the people who I thought would be supportive were judgmental and mean.
- I thought that to follow a method, you had to follow it completely. (That was the message I was getting). I didn’t know it was OK to take the parts that work for you and leave the rest.
There was a lot I didn’t know.
What I did know, was that I felt bad ALL THE TIME.
I wasn’t doing enough.
I wasn’t doing it right.
Our homeschool looked nothing like the ones I saw online.
What I know now
We just started our 12th year of homeschooling here, and this is what I know now:
I still worry about doing enough.
I’m still not doing it “right,” necessarily.
Our homeschool still doesn’t look like the ones I see online.
And all of that is OK.
Because my kids.
My kids are these cool, interesting, unique people who love making music and skateboarding and rescuing cats and art and gaming and junk food and learning.
We have never gotten into a homeschool routine that includes hours at desks.
Sometimes things don’t work.
But we wake up every day and try again, and so far, that has been enough.
And we love each other, and we enjoy just being together, and OHMYGOSH – THAT is huge.
So if you are struggling a bit this week, feeling like you aren’t getting it right, and that you should be doing more, OK – I think we think those things because we love our kids and take this stuff seriously.
Now stop thinking of your fears as truth and start thinking of them as helpful reminders of just how much you care.
And then brush them off your shoulder and just do the next thing.
And if you feel like quitting – that’s OK.
Just ask yourself if it’s fear talking you into giving up.
And if it is, you know what to do: Tell that fear that you appreciate the reminder of how important all of this is, but you already know that, so please shove off.
And then the next day, get up and try again:
“Finish each day and be done with it. You have done what you could. Some blunders and absurdities no doubt crept in; forget them as soon as you can. Tomorrow is a new day. You shall begin it with too high a spirit to be encumbered with your old nonsense.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson