I was overconfident to begin with, so maybe I doomed myself from the beginning.
But I’d already brought three children into the world, so why should I be rattled by the impending arrival of a fourth? I could handle another baby. I’d done this all before!
I was managing life nicely, after all. Not perfectly, perhaps, but as close to it as any mother of three children could ever hope to do! Perfection, or at least the appearance of it, had become very important to me, and I was smug in my confidence I could carry on the charade a while longer.
But then baby #4 arrived, all 6 pounds of him, and that beautiful, precious baby boy was cranky and demanding and generally dissatisfied with everything in his world. He wanted to nurse constantly. He didn’t want to sleep. Ever. He wanted all of my attention at all times and he had the will, (and the lungs,) to fight until he got it.
My 4-year-old and her 2-year-old brother quickly began an all-out war for all the attention their sleep-deprived, emotionally-spent mother didn’t have to give them. My not-quite-8-year-old was blindsided by all the changes and by a mother who was showing a “Mrs. Hyde-Side” she had never witnessed before. Having just started a small business, my husband was working ridiculously long hours trying to get things established. As much as he wanted to help me, he, too, was overwhelmed.
My life was nursing, changing diapers, breaking up fights, and filling sippy cups. That was it.
And my house. Oh, my house! Dusty furniture and soap scummy showers went untouched. Floors weren’t mopped and carpets weren’t vacuumed and clutter piled up everywhere. It was all I could do to keep the children fed and mostly clean and on a good day, I might manage to wash a single load of laundry so they could be clothed as well.
I cried and cried, not merely because my house was messy and I couldn’t seem to satisfy a grumpy baby and his siblings, but because my view of myself, my image of what I was supposed to be had been destroyed. My “perfect life” had crumbled as the fragile, phony dream it really was.
I felt so weak, so inadequate. I was an utter and complete failure.
So you may be wondering what on earth this has to do with homeschooling. Well that painful time in my life set into motion a change of mindset that would benefit me greatly in the days to come, though I was completely oblivious to it at the time.
Slowly I came to accept that my house would never grace the pages of my favorite decorating magazine, but I could strive instead to have a warm and inviting, (albeit messy,) home. I couldn’t prepare gourmet dinners every night, but I could fill our table with love and laughter instead. I couldn’t be everything and do everything I dreamed of, but I could focus on the four precious gifts God had given me and make my raising of them my top priority.
Now in the role of a homeschooling mom I apply the same principles. Accepting reality and keeping priorities in place has proven essential to my homeschooling success. No, I can’t have perfection, but I’ve learned that not being perfect is perfectly okay!
I fully accept that…
I can’t have a perfect house. It’s a home, not a museum, and our home is where we love and play and eat and sleep and learn. That’s a lot of living crammed within four walls, so I refuse to fret over some mess!
I can’t have the perfect schoolroom. I can spend my days moaning about all the things I wish we had, things I’m convinced would make school easier or more enjoyable or the educational benefit greater, or I can just buck up and do my best with what God’s given me. My attitude will have far more to do with our homeschooling success than a picture-perfect classroom and to-die-for teaching materials.
I can’t have perfect students. I want to see my children achieve great things, but I want to see it out of love for them and hope for their future, not to satisfy my own ego. I want to value their differences and never judge their worth, (or mine,) by their academic success. God created them with unique strengths and diverse weaknesses and it is my job to cultivate the one and mend the other to the best of my ability. When I’ve done that, I’ve done all that I can do.
I’m not striving for perfection. Not anymore. I’m simply doing my best at the most important job I will ever do, striving to bolster my children’s faith and mold them into hard working, respectable members of society.
And if I manage to succeed, tell me what on earth could be more perfect than that?
First and foremost, Tanya Holt is a servant of Christ. Beyond that she’s a wife to Alika, her Hawaiian-born, Texas-raised husband whom she met in Pennsylvania, and together they’re raising and educating four amazing kids in her home state of Kentucky. She loves to cook, frequent flea markets and junk shops, work in children’s/youth ministries, and write. You can follow her blog at www.kentuckysketches.blogspot.com where she loves to muse about all of these things, along with her greatest passion–homeschooling.