That time I tried to be a perfect mom...
Most of you know that I tried homeschooling for a few years and for the most part I really loved it. After having my 4th child I quickly became overwhelmed though. So I decided to go the public school route. I'd like to take you back a few years to my homeschooling days and give you a little inside look at how my high expectations of a perfect day was doomed to fail.
We start our first day of school. I'm anxious to begin and try out all the fun new ideas I found on Pinterest. I gather all the kids into the school room. I settle Brooklyn on the floor with a basket of toys, then begin reading a short devotional that was meant for the preschool mind. I barely read two words when Lily begins calling over to Brooklyn trying to get her to smile. Oliver says to me, "mom, this is boring"... WHAT? I haven't even begun! So I rush through the devotional as Oliver heads for the door. He has to go potty. Lily says she's hungry, even though we just had breakfast. I tell her we'll have lunch after we're done with school. She insists that she's starving. I try to convince her that school won't take long and we'll have a break for lunch soon, at the same time I'm feeling slightly guilty thinking that perhaps she IS hungry and therefore can't focus on the lesson. I compromise by telling her to just do one handwriting work sheet and we'll take a break. Oliver is yelling from the bathroom for me to wipe his bum. Brooklyn's starting to get fussy and Lily is complaining that her worksheet is too hard. I rush to Oliver to wipe his bum only to find poop all over the toilet seat and somehow on is foot. Don't know how that's possible. By the time I get Oliver all cleaned up, Brooklyn is now screaming. She's hungry and ready for her nap. I take her upstairs while telling the kids to be quiet so I can put Brooklyn down for a nap. As I'm nursing Brooklyn to sleep I hear Oliver screaming at the top of his lungs. I hurry to put Brooklyn in her crib, she's startled by Oliver's screaming. She begins to cry but I leave her anyway. Close her bedroom door and rush down to see whats the matter. Apparently Lily has decided she wants the stuffed animal Oliver was playing with. It belongs to Lily, but the minute she saw Olly playing with it, she decides NOW she wants to play with it. I tell her to give it to Olly. She insists that it's her very special one and nobody can play with it. By now my anxiety levels are through the roof. I try to remain calm and tell them they need to share. All 3 kids are now crying... My patience is gone and I yell... Yes, I yell sometimes. They stop fighting, Brooklyn finally falls asleep. I take a deep breath and try once again to gather the kids back into the school room, this time with snacks. I plop down on the couch, lacking the enthusiasm I started with. I already feel like I need a break. Maybe I'll go get on the treadmill really fast, I think to myself. Putting my headphones on and getting lost in my work out sounds really nice right about now. I know that if I don't take advantage of Brooklyn's nap time, I may not get my work out in at all today. So I tell the kids we'll finish school as soon as I'm done on the treadmill. I put on a church video and tell them they need to watch it. They begin to protest and say those movies are boring and they want to watch something else. I tell them that they can choose the movie for bedtime, but during the day they have to watch something about Jesus. They continue to whine as I slide the DVD in and push play. I get on the treadmill. Of course I'm interrupted about 5 minutes into it. They are asking if they can have a treat. "After lunch", I say. Oliver cries and lays down on the floor next to my treadmill. He continues to cry, I turn up my music on my headphones trying to drown out the crying. Finally he stops but decides he wants to play with his toys right next to me. I tell him not to play by the treadmill while it's on. He insists that he'll be careful. He disappears behind me, which then of course makes me panic. "Go play somewhere else", I say sternly. He leaves the room finally, but it's obvious his feelings were hurt. I feel bad so I cut my work out short and run after him to give him loves. I decide I'd better get some lunch for them. We have lunch, I clean up a little. Then head back into the school room. This time I only have Lily. Oliver has left a trail of toys all over the house. He's happily playing with his dinosaur toys so I decide to let him be. I begin reading to Lily from our history book. As I'm reading to her I'm feeling really good about our time together. Just as I think she's showing interest in the story, she say's, "how many more pages mom"? Now I'm irritated again. I try not to show it though and say, "I'm almost done". After the history lesson I pull out her math work book. As I lay it in front of her she instantly complains that she HATES math and she doesn't want to do it. I tell her she can't play with friends later if she doesn't complete her school work. "No, PLEASE can I have a friend over"? she whines. I once again say, "AFTER your school work is done". "Well, can I have a break first", she says. Ugh, are you serious? We've barely accomplished anything today and it's already 3:00. Brooklyn wakes up from her nap, Oliver wants me to play dinosaurs with him and Lily is sitting in the school room complaining she can't do her math. I bring Brooklyn into the school room and sit with Lily as I show her how to count her fingers for math. I know she's just not trying at all. We're doing simple addition and she's acting like it's all new to her. As I walk her through EVERY single problem, I'm holding Brooklyn on my lap trying to bridle her eager fists from pulling out my hair. We finally finish the math. By now I'm completely exhausted. I decide we're done for the day. I'm feeling stressed and upset about how the day went. I go over to Sean's office and impulsively I tell him, "I'm not doing homeschool anymore!". "Uh, can we talk about this later? I'm in the middle of work", Say's Sean in a slightly annoyed tone. I storm out of his office even more mad than I was before. I believe I even slammed the door. Yes, I felt pretty immature. I begin to cry... I daydream for a minute about how much easier it would be if I just sent Lily back to public school. I say a prayer and ask for strength to endure. Later that night Sean comes home from working. By then I've calmed down a little. He knows I didn't mean what I said and just gives me a hug. I cry a little more. After the kids go to bed we have a long talk about our goals with homeschool and try to come up with some ways to motivate Lily. Sean helps me calm down, reassures me that we will be fine and tells me to stop putting so much pressure on myself. A few days pass and things begin to get better. Lily is cooperating and showing a better attitude. Oliver is getting used to the fact that he needs to sit still and be quiet if he wants to be in the school room with us. We take advantage of Brooklyn's nap by doing as much school as we can. I've started inviting other homeschoolers over to do school work with Lily, which has really motivated her. She is now ASKING to do math. I've hired some help to come in and do the house work for me in order to maintain my sanity. And I have Lily play with Brooklyn while I get my work out in. The truth is, Homeschooling is HARD! But most things that are worth doing aren't easy. I like to compare a lot of things to my mission in Germany. That was the hardest 18 months of my life, but it was also the best. It formed me into a better person with finer work ethic and less focus on myself. It also helped me with the ability to get along with a companion, ie. a husband :). So what I'm trying to convey here is, yes, this decision I've made to homeschool is not always easy, but I'm learning a great deal. It keeps me on my toes and I think it's great. I believe we should never get too comfortable in life. We've got to find a balance between simplifying our lives yet pushing ourselves a little too. We must be faced with challenges in order to be molded into the amazing people God has destined us to be.
Another thing I learned through my homeschooling experience is that I wanted everything to be perfect. I imagined days full of love and learning, not whining and chaos. I thought it was my kids that were creating the issues. If only they would just sit there with smiles on their faces and do EVERYTHING I wanted them to do without any complaints. Everything would be perfect! Haha, well that would be too easy right, and life isn't meant to be easy and perfect. It's purpose is to strengthen us by pushing us to our limits. Instead of focusing so much on everything being perfect, I just need to be accepting, patient, loooooong suffering, and just love on my kids. That's the only way to maintain my sanity in my role as a mother.
Below are just some of my favorite homeschooling memories. Perhaps I'll go back to it one day.