When you decide that homeschooling is the road you and your family will be taking, it is expected that you’ll get some resistance from people who surround you. Friends. Family. Helen from your playgroup network will surely have to share her two cents. However, the worst enemy that you will encounter in your homeschooling endeavor is yourself. It’s true! I don’t say this to deter you from diving in, or to scare you. But it is something that I’ve seen time, and time again, in my personal experiences and in others.
The worst enemy that you will encounter in your homeschooling endeavor is yourself.
How is it that you, the parent, the educator, the one responsible for your child’s success is the worst enemy to it? It’s simple, really. Your expectations. Not your expectations of your child’s abilities. Or of your expectations of their learning goals. But your expectations of your homeschool and of yourself.
Let me be a little more detailed in this. As a homeschool mom we have visions of grandeur. Perfectly organized bins with just the right materials. Colored pencils arranged beautifully. Beautiful original artwork hanging. Smiles and freshly baked muffins every morning during morning time. Oh, I can just see it now! I’ll wake up early, have my coffee, do last minute tasks and have my day ready when the kids wake up. We’ll spend the day learning and the kids will be engaged in whatever studies we have. Before we know it, it’s lunchtime and we are all gathered on the rug while I read aloud from a classic novel and all of my children listen intently. New subjects and topics will be introduced and the kids will grasp these new concepts and flourish and succeed immediately! We homeschool for Pete’s sake! Our children love to learn! Learning is what we do. We learn all day everyday. At night, I will reflect upon my beautiful day and look forward to tomorrow when I can homeschool again. Oh what a glorious feat it is. How successful my children and I are. We are just so put together, my days are filled with rainbows and unicorns.
Enter real life.
I wake up to my alarm and snooze it. Five times. Then when my alarm is done going off, I go back to sleep again until one of my older kids comes and wakes me up. I drag myself out of bed and make toast or eggs or even just unwrap a granola bar and open some gogurt. My sink is still full of dishes from the night before; my coffee pot is empty; my living room (where we homeschool) has a couch that is buried under 4 loads of laundry that need to be folded and hung and put away. Yup, sounds about right. We didn’t do a full days worth of school yesterday because we had a doctor’s appointment and went grocery shopping. My plans for today might as well go f*ck themselves because I’m already behind schedule. I feel like a failure. My kids deserve better. My husband deserves better. I really suck at this whole homeschool and stay at home mom and wife gig. But I trudge through the day.
My 1st grader reads to me from his chapter book. My kindergartener tells me about these bugs he saw outside and the ones he saw yesterday and quickly without using fingers does addition and subtraction facts in his head. My (almost) pre-k kid is counting into his teens and sorting his crayons by color. The youngest one is counting his cars to 10 over and over again. This is normal daily life. It seems uneventful, mundane.
Then I take a moment and look at my children and my homeschool with fresh eyes. My 1st grader is reading chapter books. He loves to read! He not only is amazing at decoding and using context clues in his reading, he truly comprehends what he is reading and has great voice and intonation as well. This is great! My kindergartener, doing basic math in his head without manipulative or counting fingers. He has a good understanding of number sense and is applying math to his everyday life. Pre-k kiddo is interested. in learning and has a genuine love of learning his numbers and letters. And little squirt down on the ground with his cars? He’s experiencing and absorbing all of these little bits of reading and writing and math and is learning just from being exposed. Perhaps I’m not failing as much as I thought I was.
I feel like a failure. My kids deserve better. My husband deserves better. I really suck at this whole homeschool and stay at home mom and wife gig.
I realize, I can’t be alone in this feeling. I want to be the best mom and teacher possible to my kids. Who doesn’t? Most of the time I feel like I don’t reach any kind of success as a mother or a teacher. I yell. I lose my temper. I don’t bake those damn muffins from scratch every morning. I don’t wake up early most of the time. I use my phone too much. I never get my laundry put away on a regular basis. It is so easy to see all of your faults. Your failures. Your shortcomings. It is so incredibly easy to let these consume and overwhelm your thoughts. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve sat in bed at night and cried to my husband that I am not doing enough. That what I do I don’t do well enough. That I am failing our children and letting them down. And that, my friends, is the worst feel of all. I have let myself down. I have let my husband down. I’ve let down my parents and I’m sure many of my friends. But the thought of being letting down my children is a feeling that makes me sick to the core of my soul.
However, in the eyes of my children and in the eyes of my husband my failures are minimal and my successes are what they see. They see a mom who loves her children so fiercely. A mom who would rather spend her time at home with her kids than anywhere else. A wife who tries (albeit she isn’t always successful but man does she try) to keep a clean house (and do all of the laundry). A mom who will never give up on her children no matter what the circumstances are. Who sees their true potential and strengths and spends her days and nights trying to help them grow into the best person they can be. A wife who doesn’t want to buy herself new clothes (even though she’s lost 40lb) because she’d rather spend the money on the kids. A wife and mom who is on her phone researching articles and strategies to help her kids succeed and help her be a better wife a mom. They see me as loving, selfless, happy, and my favorite, “nice”. (I don’t know why but my kids like to tell me what a nice mom I am and it makes me smile and laugh every time).
What if instead of beating myself up for all of the negative stuff I see in myself, I tried to look at myself the way my kids see me?
I spend so much time looking at all of my faults, failures, and shortcomings that they become my view of myself. I don’t see all of the positive influences I bring to my family and home. But my kids do. My husband does. My friends and family sure as hell do. What if instead of beating myself up for all of the negative stuff I see in myself, I tried to look at myself the way my kids see me? I can just imagine how happy and successful I would feel if I looked at myself and saw all of the “good” that I am and that I have to offer. I have a feeling it may be the same for you. If you want to be successful in your homeschool, first you have to knock out your worst enemy: yourself.