Dear Younger Me,
I see you standing there… two months into your very first homeschool year–worn out and worn thin. While your friends are shopping or meeting for coffee, you are sounding out blended vowel sounds and adding single digits. You spend your mornings trying to keep the attention of a 5-year-old boy while keeping your 3-year-old occupied and maintaining a pregnancy. Day after day, one or more of you are in tears. Your husband is in nursing school full time and you can’t figure out Kindergarten. It’s Kindergarten, for Pete’s sake. Honestly, how hard is it, really?
Really, it is hard. Homeschooling and parenting are the hardest things you will ever do. You will learn that the limits you thought you have are just the tip of the iceberg. You will be stretched up and down and all ways sideways. You will scale the heights of discovery with the ones you love the most, and you will plunge the depths of fear and failure with those same offspring. And, at some point, you will realize that your life has just as many stretch marks as your former bikini body has, and you might not recognize the patience and endurance you’ve developed.
You see, there’s a secret you are learning. It will take you a little while to catch on, though. While you are busy trying to figure out where you went wrong in your Kindergarten year, you won’t be looking forward. While you are reading and studying spiral vs. mastery approaches in mathematics or learning the virtues of phonics vs. sight words, you are missing something more. And, while you are trying to be the very best homeschool mom ever, you aren’t getting that there is something greater than the sum of all the parts of reading, ‘riting, and ‘rithmetic. The secret is not in the theories of education but in looking at the subjects you teach.
See, these sweet faces that thrill you one moment and drive you to tears the next are the subjects that matter most. Math, science, history, spelling…those things matter, but they are not the most important subjects in your home. Instead, look at your children, really look at them. Do you see how incredible they are? They are really cool people developing and growing into unique, amazing individuals, and you have been given the incredible privilege of having a front-row seat to watch them learn and discover for themselves. You get to teach them how to learn. The secret is to focus on the right subjects.
Here’s the amazing thing about learning this secret. You will get so caught up in living life and focusing on your subjects, the days will turn to months and months will turn to years. Seasons will come, seasons will go, and some will be harder than others. The teen years, they might just almost wear holes in you. Yet, through it all, you will still have your front row seat watching your children learn for themselves and become who they were meant to be. It’s a glorious thing to watch.
So, fifteen years later, I would tell you this one thing as you stand there worn out and worn thin… stay the course. Know this. On those really hard days, it’s okay to lock yourself in the bathroom with a bar of chocolate, just don’t stay in there very long. Time waits for no one, and you really don’t want to miss a single moment because one day, that sweet five-year-old will come home from college and say, “Thanks, Mom!”
For now, know that you are doing an amazing job, and I’m proud of you!
Heidi Kreider is the wife to the one who has held her heart for 22 years, and mom to 3 Es. She has fifteen years experience homeschooling and has experienced public school, private school, and homeschool with her three kids. Her oldest child is in his second year of college, and she’ll experience her first homeschool graduation in the Spring of 2017, which will leave just one more at home. Spending time at church, camping, and traveling with her family are her favorite hobbies. In her spare time, Heidi works as a part-time social media manager and writes at Her Heart’s at Home: Helping Women Find Work-at-Home Opportunities.