Articles, Homeschool
Comments 22

Why Would You Want to Do That?

published in Home School Enrichment magazine, Mar/Apr 2011

The woman’s question literally took my breath away.  I stammered.  I fumbled.  I nervously looked for an exit.

Why would you want to do that?

It should have been a simple question for me to answer.  Why didn’t I have a simple answer? What was wrong with me? I cleared my throat, hoping my mind would clear with it. No such luck.

I was trapped like a rat in my McDonald’s booth.  My mom was munching her chicken fingers across from me and making small talk with the manager.  Said successful manager turned out to actually own this franchise and another across my town.  She had just finished touting the joy of her career, her husband’s successful career, and her beloved nanny and private school system, all of which came together to give her the life of her dreams.  Radiantly, she turned to me and said, “So, what do you do?”

I had been dreading that question from the beginning of her monologue.  I had seen it coming, and I had been sinking further and further down below the yellow table, hoping it would hide me, my stained t-shirt, and my pony-tail, too. Again, no such luck.  “She HOME SCHOOLS!” Mom piped up, encouragingly.  I wilted further. Then, manager/owner/nanny-employer turned her  eyes penetrating upon me and demanded:

Why would you want to do that?

In that moment, I loathed myself.  Really, truly, I was so ashamed that I just wanted to hide under my southwest chicken salad.  But she waited, cold as the iceberg lettuce, and I inwardly berated myself.

I’m a homeschool grad.  I am rearing four well-adjusted never-institutionalized children.  I’m a home education writer, reviewer, and consultant.  And I could not, at that moment tell you One Good Reason why I would want to do that!

The fact is … Some days – and that one happened to be one of them – I don’t really want to “do that.”

  • Home educating is just plain hard.  It hurts.  It makes me cry. I get lonely, even.
  • Home educating is a thankless job.  My husband wants me to do it and has the most invested in this project, but even he forgets to throw me a parade every night.  I still do not have my medal for being a Homeschool Grad from The Persecuted Years In America.  So I am not holding out hope that the Second Generation is getting trophies here on earth, either.
  • Home education is a 24 hour a day, 365 day a year job, especially for those of us stupid enough to be “real life” and “year round” classical educators.  What was I thinking? Teaching constantly all the time “when I rise up, when I sit down, while I walk in the way …” ?!? Where is the vacation or break there?
  • Home education disqualifies one from Martha Stewart Homemaker of the Year. Some days, I just want to scream, “I CAN’T TAKE THIS MESS ANY MORE! GET YOU PEOPLE AND ALL YOUR STUFF OFF MY FLOORS AND OUT OF MY HOUSE!”
  • Where do I put the BOOKS? I keep tearing down the bookshelves and building bigger bookshelves, but it is NEVER enough for all the BOOKS!
  • Home educating is very tiring.  That is the thing.  I just get tired.  Tired of grading papers; tired of listening; tired of answering; tired of picking up; tired of holding; tired of wiping; tired of reading; tired of fixing; tired of correcting; tired of correcting again; tired of answering again; tired of reading; tired of listening again …. I am so… so… tired ……so tired….

Why would you want to do that?

It was particularly hard to answer Happy Career Mom that day because I was Very Tired Home Educator at the moment.  After some more sleep and reflection, I remembered again why I did want to do that.

  1. I love watching my children grow and learn! When I tell our “homeschool story,” I mention teaching my firstborn “just one year,” and becoming addicted within those first months.  It is true.  As I watched him put letters together to make words; I held his hand to write then watched him form his name on his own for the first time; I saw his excitement at writing number sentences like a mathematician … these learning moments and other milestones became precious to both of us, like watching a baby’s first steps.  I don’t want someone else to teach my children about the Fall of Rome or the theory of relativity. These are ours to share.
  2. I love being with my own children! Ok, truth be told, I do enjoy time to refresh my spirit and re-energize myself once a year or so, but I could not imagine sending my four away every day! They are important people in my life whom I love and cherish.  This time with them is already going by too fast; my first-born is more than half-done with his time with me. These are days to cherish.
  3. Most importantly, and perhaps I don’t say this here enough, my husband and I have come to the conviction that God’s people should train their own children. My husband says, there is no wonderland for everybody; yet we still believe God has a perfect plan to rear each child in godliness and uprightness according to His Word. From the beginning, His chosen method of education always began with the family.

I never got to share with Happy Career Mom why I would want to “do that.” By the time I got half my wits about me, she was called away to manage the restaraunt.  I am thankful the Lord used the opportunity to remind me the importance of knowing why I do what I do … even when the going gets tough.

So tell me…

Why do you do that?

Read about my own ambivalence toward homeschooling our children – and why you should teach yours  – in “I Know Better: The View from Both Ends of Home Education.” Find it in Thank You! 20 Homeschool Grads Tip Their Hats to Homeschooling Parents, compiled by Amy Puetz.  Amy is offering this valuable resource FREE to Whatever State readers for a limited time!

22 Comments

  1. Very good article. It held my interest – probably because I can relate. Some days, I just don’t “feel” like being a homeschool mom. But, our feelings sometimes lie to us. When it boils down, I love being home with my kids and love watching them learn and grow. I want to be the one to teach them, and I love the way we can start our day out with prayer and devotions. It is a “calling” to homeschool, and we need to remember that the feelings we have on rough days do not make up the whole picture. Thanks for sharing.

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    • I like what you say, Vicky – “It is a ‘calling to homeschool.'” And maybe a good short-answer to the Career Lady question would be “because I am called to!”

      Thanks!

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  2. Rene' says

    I agree Vicky, good article and yes to homeschool is a “calling”. These out-of -the-home parents do not know what they are missing as they raise/teach their children (or rather have others raise/teach) and these children will do the same. Also, how many of the children’s activities and accomplishments have they missed because of their careers. And when they are old and retired, their children will have no time to visit or bring the grandchildren to visit. They will be too busy with their “successful” lives!! Where has the family gone? I am proud to be a homeschool mom!!

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    • Well said, Rene. (Do I hear “Cat’s in the Craddle” playing in the background?) It is interesting for me to observe, having seen my own mother go from a working woman putting me in daycare, to a stay-at-home mother with 2 children in private schools, to a full-time homeschool mother. To her dying day, she would turn beat red and have steam come out her ears if I said the words “just a stay at home mom.” Even when we know why we do what we do, sometimes the sacrifices just seem … a little hard.

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  3. Samalah says

    Wow. This was a really powerful article – thank you for “spilling the beans”. While I’m not a homeschooling parent (yet!), I think that keeping a realistic view of the sacrifices and challenges involved, is as important as being able to recite the many blessings.

    As with Christianity, many new home educators stumble at the first trial or opposition, yet it’s critically important that we know they will come….and be prepared to stand anyway.

    Food for thought, and prayer!

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    • That’s right, Samalah. I was mad at myself for not being ready to give an answer for the hope that was in me. But we all fall … and rise up again.

      I am so grateful to remember that we all, no matter where we are in the homeschool spectrum or how long we have been involved, we all get bogged down at times. AND, I am thankful that I have family and friends praying for me … as I do , them!

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  4. Why do I do that? Well, first of all, I believe that every parent is a home educator, whether their children attend school during the day or not. So, it really began the day that God blessed us with our firstborn son. But, I understand that the question here was given to you by a “career woman”. She was astonished that someone would actually want and/or have the energy and focus to take on educating their own children. Let’s be honest here and admit that it is NOT for everyone. Several commenters have already remarked that it is a calling. Not everyone is called to it. I have lots of friends that I love and respect who send their children to school and they have peace in their hearts over the decision. I also attended public school and I am thankful that I did. God has a different plan for everyone.
    We started this journey when we moved here to our current home in the country and the schools were too far away to drive to. Now that I’ve started (4 years ago now) I can’t stop because I honestly LOVE having the children home with me all day. I call the children and myself– “the party of 8”. The family life that we have developed b/c of home schooling is something that I greatly value. It’s not all about the quality of education (which is quite high) but also the love, peace, and unity we enjoy as a family.
    Homeschooling is not a big deal to us….Rich and I don’t feel called to influence anyone else to homeschool and we rarely talk about it with anyone. However, in a quiet way we are living the life and are so thankful to have the opportunity to do so.

    I totally hear you on the book dilemma! What a blessing to have “too many books”! I’m actually planning on weeding some of ours out for lack of space. We go to the library enough to make up for it.

    Have a great day!

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  5. Vickie says

    A friend shared this with me…love your honesty and what a great article!

    Why do I do what I do? I guess I knew my “why” before I had kids. But, my why has grown into the fact that: I LOVE being with my kids with which the Lord has blessed me; I am commanded by the Lord to teach them diligently about Him, and there is not enough time in the world to retrain them from public school, and I find it foolish to retrain them even from a “Christian” school as well (especially including those schools who make “education” an idol); my only desire is to see them love the Lord with all their hearts, soul, mind and strength…because the only shot I have is to spend TIME doing it; I don’t want to take an 80% to 90% chance that my kids will fall away from the Lord if attending a public school; how else could I give them as many kisses as I do if they were gone; the number one reason?…I want to sleep in.

    And I wake up every morning ready to go and patiently teach my children in love all day…and if you believe that, I’ve got some land to sell you…HOWEVER, my days of doubt and frustration, and feeling ready to quit NEVER out-weight the benefits and joys of being with my kids and training them in the Lord.

    And for you AND I LeaAnn, remember “Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected; but I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me.” Keep “moving forward” as Wilbur Robinson says, but that’s Biblical to keep “pressing on”. Our lives are eternal and that’s the pay-off of home educating…in eternity. Sometimes a hard vision to see in this temporal world, but nonetheless true. Next time you’ll have your answer seasoned with the grace and mercy of Jesus…who knows what that would do!

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    • Shannon says

      How do you teach your children to love the Lord with all their hearts, soul, mind and strength? We do family devos, bible lessons, etc and I STILL struggle getting my kids to LOVE one another and my oldest and middle almost always hate going to church. Any advice would be great!! 🙂

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      • Vickie says

        Shannon, I’m not sure if you can teach them to love the Lord–other than counting on Jesus to truly change their hearts to love Him, but you can SHOW them how to love the Lord and train them in the Lord by spending GOBS of time with them. Like in Deut 6: “7 You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up. ” This means it’s all the time. It’s your lifestyle. I’ve found that I can only rely on God’s word to be the power of God to salvation for my children, and its suitability to human need, not some correct formula for children who believe. And this does, however, take a lot of prayer for my kids also.

        We’ve found that it’s not about this routine of “devotions” or Bible lessons. My husband and I were just talking about this a couple days ago. If WE don’t love the Lord with ALL of OUR hearts, and LOVE His Word and learning the things in them, then our kids will not either. I’m certainly NOT saying you aren’t genuine (I couldn’t know since I don’t know you), but I can encourage you for you to self-assess and see if you and your husband truly love the Lord yourself.

        We must point our kids to the greatest joy and happiness that they can experience–delighting in God and the goodness of His ways. I love these resources we’ve found really show us the Biblical method and the Word we need to live this out in every day life. Both of Tedd Tripp’s books: “Shepherding a Child’s Heart” and “Instructing a Child’s Heart” have been a very Godly resource for us…constantly pointing us to God’s Word and how to present that to our children. It is all about the heart of your child. It’s not about the behavior. Only the heart.

        I personally, have never felt a stronger calling than raising our kids in the Lord. Neither my husband nor I were raised this way, so knowing how that affected us was important not to pass that on to our kids. It certainly ISN’T easy, I can tell you that. I can’t find it right now, but Tedd Tripp said something like, “Being a parent is NOT for the faint of heart!” So true. Some days it takes everything in you to gather yourself and press on toward your goal.

        Our kids also struggle daily to love each other, probably the most thing with which we struggle. They are selfish little sinners! We all are, aren’t we? They aren’t sinners because they sin, but rather they sin because they ARE sinners! Daily letting THEM examine their OWN heart and seeing their need for their Savior…showing them how to repent and fill their minds back with the washing of the Word to renew their minds which will reach their hearts is the only road to take.

        I also just have to encourage you to make sure you are in a church that teaches the Word and is not just seeking after man’s opinions or acceptance. Kids are not stupid and can probably tell hypocrisy quite easily. We are in certain dark times in the church and finding one that is what Jesus wants it to be is difficult to say the least!

        I guess, I would just suggest checking out those Tedd Tripp books. They are amazing and informative!

        I guess my hubby and I are just finding how much deeper and deeper everything gets when you grow in the Lord. What we do is SO influential to our kids and WHAT we teach them too. We’ve found you can’t just teach them anything either. It has to be the WHOLE counsel of God while rightly dividing the Word too. Legalism and compromise will always lead to disaster!

        I’m praying for you Shannon!! I understand the struggles!

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      • Truly, “walking the walk” before your children in love and meekness does go a long way to plant the seed of truth in their hearts. And there is no substitute for “instruction in righteousness” – indeed, we are commanded numerous times to teach them diligently!

        Sometimes, like you, I seem to hit a brick wall with my children in some spiritual matter. I, then, am reminded of Christ’s words: this kind cometh not out but by prayer and fasting.

        And: no more can ye, except ye abide in Me.

        My husband and I have learned the last couple of years that the battle for our children’s future will be fought on our knees. Praise God, the Spirit will meet you there.

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  6. Kelly B. says

    Okay, my friend, you are cracking me up. And this reminds me of my break-down the other morning telling my husband I’m sending them to school, so I can do what I want to!!! What’s sad, is as the words were coming out of my mouth, I knew it was just plain CRAP the whole time I threatened it! However, after my wonderful husband assured me that the only reason for keeping them here was to train them up in the Lord, I could see the light again. I blame PMDD (LOL!)…but, I know that my real WHY is (and I will steal this from your post about Jesus vs. Homeschooling–by my Jonathan Lewis, whom I just love and even though I’m NOT quite old enough to be his mom, I’d like to adopt him):
    “Ultimately, homeschooling isn’t an academic pursuit, but a spiritual one. It’s not about producing geniuses, but raising a generation of godly young men and women to impact our world for the cause of Christ.”
    And I also like to quote Ken Ham from a VERY influential article I read a while back where he said, “The Israelites didn’t send their kids to the Philistines to be trained.”

    I basically just can’t see it any other way than to invest the time needed to do the job ALL mothers who love the Lord are called to: train our little precious muffins up in the Lord. Our “why” certainly sounds crazy to those don’t get it, but essentially I’m so glad the only one we need care about is our Jesus, and it is just reasonable to give Him whatever we can because of all He’s done for us. And what ridiculous blessings come with that obedience! And I’m so honored to have that opportunity to raise and nurture my two in the Lord everyday—all day.

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  7. Kelly,
    You are just the friend for a good kick in the skirt. I love it!

    What is the article by Ken Ham? Do you remember? I love that quote. It is very insightful. It is remarkable that every time you see the Israelites allowing close contact between their children and the pagans around them, they soon turn from their God to the false gods and then are destroyed by their own God. There is a very real battle over the heritage of God’s people from Genesis onward.

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    • Kelly B. says

      Yeah, it was in The Old Schoolhouse Magazine, Spring, 2007. I could NOT find this online though, but they graciously emailed it to me a while ago (so I could pass it on)–so if you want to send me your email in a FB message, I would be more than happy to email it to you. It was really, really, really stinking good!

      One other quote in the article that really moved my husband and me was this: “The Lord has entrusted us to train our children for eternity. in addition to training them in their earthy ministry, we have to provide them with eternal training–to love the Lord. Yes, it is nice to have successful children in college and getting good grades, but it would be better to have ditch diggers who love the Lord than successful kids who don’t love the Lord. Here’s the bottom line: the most important thing in the world is that we know Christ.”

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  8. LeaAnn, I am so glad I took the time to read this post. I really needed to hear that right now. Homeschooling can be very lonely, especially for us moms, but I am reminded when I question why I “do that” that the Lord has convicted my husband and me to make this choice even though it means dying to self every single day. And whatever He has called us to do He will equip us to fulfill that calling. It’s hard, it’s tiring, it’s challenging; yet it’s so much more. It’s the most rewarding thing I’ve ever done in my life and I wouldn’t change it for anything.

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  9. Pingback: Homeschool Mom, Are YOU Learning? | Lea Ann Garfias

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