You know that homeschool mom down the street or across the aisle at church? Maybe you don’t know her really well. But she wishes you knew her better. In fact, there are several things she wishes she can tell you but she can’t.
There’s working moms and stay-at-home moms, breastfeeding and bottle moms, moms who go free-range and moms who cling to attachment parenting.
Then there’s the homeschool moms. They are the real weirdos.
Your homeschooling friend probably wants to reach out, but she just doesn’t know what to say. It’s hard to explain to someone why in the world someone would ever want to do this, and it’s even harder to express why in the world someone would continue doing this after the craziness is readily apparent. In that regard, being a homeschool mom is a lot like … momming.
If you could peek inside your homeschool friend’s brain, you’d probably be surprised what you find. You might find a mom a lot like yourself.
Your Homeschool Friend Wishes You Knew…
1. She works very hard.
It is a lot of work to be a teacher. On top of that, she is principal, school administrator, guidance counselor, and PTA. She alone has to research, plan, and implement every aspect of each of her children’s education. It’s more than a full-time job.
Meanwhile, she’s likely working a part-time job and/or volunteering regularly in the community and church. On top of all the Mommy Duties. So if she isn’t available at the drop of a hat to tutor your child or babysit or drive soccer carpool, don’t be surprised. This is one overly-committed gal.
2. She’s always tired.
All moms are always tired. On top of that, the homeschool job always comes home with her, even during family time. Whether she has a nine-month school schedule or practices year-round homeschooling, she is always hyper-alert to educational opportunities and looking for more ways to meet her children’s social, academic, spiritual, and physical needs. She can’t get a vacation from it, so her brain is beyond fried.
3. She is lonely.
It’s hard to get much adult conversation when your life’s work is within your own four walls. And since she is so busy, it takes a lot of effort to maintain friendships. Homeschool moms too easily let real life friendships fall through the cracks in an effort to stay sane.
But she knows she needs friends. Just like you, your homeschool friend needs to be seen and understood and appreciated for who she is. So when you make an effort to meet her on your lunch hour, you are her best friend in the world.
4. She doesn’t think she is better than you.
Her lifestyle might seem very different from yours, and it’s obvious she takes pride in what she’s doing. But she expects you to take the same pride in your children and how you raise them, as well.
It took a lot of courage for your homeschool friend to step out and educate her children differently. It was the right decision for her, but she knows it isn’t the right decision for everyone. Her choices are right for her, and she knows yours are right for you.
5. She doesn’t think her children are better than yours.
Homeschool students aren’t automatically more brilliant and talented and spiritual and good-looking just because they stay home. Your homeschool friend is not mentally comparing your child to hers and judging you; she’s mentally comparing your child to hers and judging herself. It’s hard for her to allow her child to grow and develop at his own pace without feeling like she’s failing him.
She wishes all children could be incomparable. So don’t feel like you have to brag about yours around her. She knows they are awesome. And don’t feel pressured to compliment her children or inquire about their achievements, either. She just wants you to love her for who she is, not for what she is doing with her children.
6. She supports your school choice.
You won’t find a more loyal school-choice ally than your homeschool friend. She understands better than most of your acquaintances that each child needs individualized instruction and that one-size-fits-all fits no one. She is happy that her tax dollars are funding educational opportunities in her community, and that public school classes have more resources since her children are getting few or none of those benefits. Your homeschool friend prays regularly that every parent has the freedom and means to educate their child as they see fit.
7. She sometimes envies you.
She is happy to be the mom, she is proud of her choices, she is content and grateful and all that…but somedays, she really really, really wants to put them all on the bus for eight hours of peace and maybe a little vacuuming. She hasn’t found the surface of the coffee table in quite some time. And her home is never, EVER quiet.
8.She feels inadequate.
She might look confident and even act confident about this whole homeschooling thing, but that just means she’s been doing it long enough to have become accustomed to carrying the burden. In reality, she is far from confident that everything will turn out picture-perfect (whatever her version of that may be). She’s really just hoping for moderately-close-to-fine.
She isn’t an expert on every subject, and she knows it. She isn’t experienced in teaching every subject in every grade, and she knows it. She isn’t trained in every learning, development, and physical challenge her students will face, and she knows it.
She is walking by faith every day, and she knows it.
9. She is often afraid of the future.
If she just started homeschooling “for just one year,” she’s nervous about how the year will end. If she’s planning on her students returning to school for high school, she’s nervous if they will adjust and be adequately prepared for the subject matter. And if she is teaching her children through graduation, she’s sick to her stomach when she thinks about college entrance exams, transcripts, dual credit, college acceptance, and scholarship opportunities.
She has plenty to keep her up at night.
10. She’s just doing the best she can.
She may look frazzled and over-committed. She may overcompensate with enrichment activities and extracurriculars. She may refuse to talk about homeschooling with you at all, she’s so terrified at the moment.
But she’s just doing the best she can to provide her children the best education and training she can.
She’s just like you.
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