"And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience; And patience, experience; and experience, hope: And hope maketh not ashamed" (Romans 5: 3-5a).
I stand at the mouth of a cave. Its shape, its contents, its dangers and joys are hidden in darkness. Part of me does not want to go that way. It is easier to tread the familiar path than to venture out on your own. I feel doubtful, anxious and nervous; but, somewhere inside I also feel exhilarated and determined: we are going to make homeschooling work.
Nearly three months after school began, we pulled our son out of school and started homeschooling him.
I have never felt so uncertain of the road ahead. At night I laid awake second guessing if I should homeschool. What curriculum should I choose? What if our son doesn’t learn what he needs to learn? What if he becomes a social klutz? Do I really have what it takes to homeschool? I prayed and prayed for the right answers, when I knew them all along. My first lesson as a homeschooling mother has been to learn to let go. I must stop worrying. I must have confidence. I must trust in God.
Searching the internet, I quickly became overwhelmed by all the choices in study materials. Even as I faced these difficult decisions, He led me to the right people to help. I discovered that we live near several homeschooling mothers at our overseas duty station and they guided me through curricula and lesson plans. After talking with these experienced homeschooling mothers and getting some tips from them, my confidence increased. Still, I knew it was not going to be easy.
On the first day of homeschooling I got up half an hour earlier to meditate followed by a delicious breakfast. By eight o’clock our homeschooling adventure started with a smile, we finished at lunch and baked cookies in the afternoon. Not bad, I thought, until the second day of homeschooling arrived. On my way to help him with his first lesson in math, I bumped against the door and let go of my coffee mug that I had just filled to the brim with steaming coffee. The mug shattered on the tiles and bathed my kitchen in a mixture of cappuccino spots and ceramic pieces.
Normally an accident like that in the morning would not have mattered too much, especially when he was still going to school. I would have nurtured my burned hand in a tub of ice water, cleaned the kitchen after the pain became bearable, tossed the shattered pieces into the trash and put on a clean pair of jeans. Now, however, a homeschooler waited for my help in the living room.
“Mom! Are you coming?” He called out again. “I don’t understand what to do. Are you coming?”
Clearly he had heard the commotion in the kitchen. “Just wait. Will you!” I yelled and grabbed the paper towels to stop the puddle of coffee running under the refrigerator. I don’t remember exactly how I managed to cut my heel in my frantic attempt to soak up the worst of the spill. This mess could not get any worse.
I hobbled upstairs to get a big band aid and change clothes. My hand burned and my heel throbbed, but nothing was worse than the feeling of inadequacy. I knew I needed to forget the pain and start teaching instead of feeling frustrated and humiliated. All I could do is pray to God to give me the strength to make it through the day.
At night I reflected on the tribulations of that second day of homeschooling. We did not get through all the lessons I had wanted to cover, nor did we have as much fun together as we did on the first day. I did not know it then, but the stark contrast between these two days would repeat itself. We have some productive days where everything falls into place; however, we also have some days where everything ends up being an ordeal.
After the third week we both started getting used to the new routine. Keeping a routine has given me strength to see the light at the end of each day and rejoice in the opportunity to teach our child.
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