I love my children enough not to homeschool

I was homeschooled and I loved it. My mother was passionate about homeschooling and viewed it as her chosen vocation when my siblings and I were growing up.

All my best friends were homeschooled by women who were as passionate and dedicated as my mother.

Although I don’t remember it being said in so many words, I somehow gleaned this message in my growing up years, a message about motherhood and truly loving your children.
It went something like this: Good mothers homeschool their children. If you really love your children, you will homeschool them.

After all, my mother really loved us and she really loved to homeschool. And I loved being homeschooled. It was just logical.

I loved to learn and I loved everything “school.”
My children would too.

But my twins were not like me.

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Beautiful, boundless energy (photo by Sabrena Carter Deal)

I had to bribe them to sit and listen to me read; they hated coloring, and could not care less about the “Letter O” worksheet. Trying to teach them to write their names usually ended with somebody crying. They struggled to hold scissors and were bored with clay and play dough.
Frustration and impatience ruled my days.
But I was determined. I would be a good mother. I Just needed to be more creative.

I made crafts for them, sewing, pasting, and folding unique and educational toys. But it was almost laughable how quickly they lost interest or ripped apart (usually accidentally) all my carefully planned projects.

I grew a thicker skin but deep down I doubted my abilities to teach them. So, I dug down even deeper and tried harder, harder.
But it didn’t work.
Nothing worked.
They resisted me at every turn.
I finally gave up. I reached an all-time educational low and I was so fed up that I didn’t even care: I resorted to a DVD to teach them phonics (LeapFrog Letter Factory) and what do you know? They loved it–and it worked.

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How I felt most days (photo by Sabrena Carter Deal)

All I could do was shake my head and say, “Whatever. Whatever.
But it hurt because I realized a DVD was doing a better job than I was.

The year they turned 5 I reached a terrifying crossroad: Homeschool or public school?
The pressure was crushing:

Good mothers homeschool their children.
If you want the best education for your children, you will homeschool.
If you really love your children, you would want to homeschool.

But I had tried and tried and tried to do all the right things and at the end of the day, it was just too hard. I did not want to homeschool. I tried to put on a brave, happy face but I felt like a failure.

They loved public school.  It was a good fit and we were blessed with amazing teachers.

Maybe my boys learn better from other people, I conceded.

The summer before first grade I was determined that Kindergarten would not fall out of their brains so I made them practice their new-found reading, math, and hand writing skills each day.

And most days, it was awful. Sure, we had some good moments, but overall, the frustration, head-butting, and fights over those stupid summer lessons, chip, chip, chipped away at my mother-worth.

Pretty soon, the thought that I would ever be “that mom” was  laughable. I can’t even do summer worksheets with my kids without losing my mind–homeschool?! Bahahaha!

I felt like I wasn’t enough. If I was, then I would homeschool, because that is what good, dedicated, passionate, creative mothers did. And I knew–I knew–I was all of those things but the disconnect between myself and my sons infuriated and baffled me.

The first week of first grade, my wounded soul came pouring out at a ladies church group.
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I burst into tears. It was the angst of back to school, of doubting the public school decision again, and the fact that 9/10 of my personal friends homeschooled their kids: why couldn’t I?

“I don’t feel like a good mom…because I don’t even want to homeschool!” I wiped my cheeks and shrugged. “But, I mean, really. If I homeschooled my boys, I would kill them!” A laugh bubbled out and everyone at the table joined me.

A wise, older woman–a mother, grandmother, and teacher–quickly quipped, “Well, then–there you have it. You love your kids enough not to homeschool.”
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I laughed at her cleverness but the truth of her words shocked me. A peace slowly began to sooth that long-forged wound.

The peace grew deeper when we learned that Benji has a language processing learning disability.
Then my hindsight sharpened to 20/20 when Benji was diagnosed with high-functiong Autism and Micah with ADHD, just very recently, as they are both now in 2nd grade.

Slowly and suddenly, all our struggles from all those years just made sense.

My sons’ needs are complex, both as individuals and twins, but their needs are being met in their separate classrooms with their great teachers and support staff at their public school. Someday, our situation may change, and another schooling option may be best. But for now, public school is exactly what they need.

It’s exactly what I need.

I have finally accepted the truth:
I love my children, but I don’t need to homeschool to prove it to them…or myself.

Do you struggle with the decision to homeschool or NOT homeschool your kids?
Share your story below!

PS. My kids are now the public school kids I used to judge
Public School, Homeschool, and the heart of socialization
Facing the Stereotypes: Our GOOD public school experience

I hope that my story can bring hope, healing, and happiness to you. TheBamBlog is trying to grow! Did this post encourage you or would it inspire someone you know?
If so, please share! Thank you! 🙂

2 Comments

  1. I feel like some homeschool Moms I know fit into this–they were homeschooled, and thus, they must homeschool. And other Moms at our church feel pressured into homeschooling (even if they didn’t grow up that way), because they feel like it’s how “good Christians” should do school. I loved public school growing up, as did my husband, and we always knew our kids would go to public school. It hurts my brain to even think about all the paperwork I’d have to do if I homeschooled, keeping on them to finish their work, etc. I know it wouldn’t be a good fit for our family. Instead, I get to enjoy teaching them things we like to do together–baking, talking about the Bible, running, etc. In two years all of them will be in school, and I am trying to soak in my time with the boys before they leave. I love being with my children anytime they’re not in school. That doesn’t mean I don’t ever need a break, but you know what I mean. I don’t send them to school to have time by myself or to get rid of them; I enjoy their presence. I send them because it’s a better fit for them to learn the “boring” stuff of life that everyone should learn. Reading, math, etc. I was a good student, but I don’t relish the thought of going through school again.

    I share this with you to emphasize your point that each family has a different need when it comes to school, and no one should feel bad if it’s different than what other families do in their social circles. I am glad that you found a good fit for your boys! And what a wise older woman who gave you the title.

    I have witnessed some really amazing homeschoolers in my life, and they were like your mom–very passionate about it, did a great job with it, etc. God gives every family a unique set of kids, thus a unique family life, with every family having slightly different needs. Homeschool, private school, public school, and now there are even charter schools–each can be a good fit for someone, but not for everyone.

    Thank you for putting your heart out there on this blog, I feel like all of your posts have a very “real” feel to them, if that makes sense? You bare it all. It makes you relatable, it’s good.

    • Thank you for your note. It really encouraged me. I so enjoy hearing the perspectives of others and how we are all just trying to do right by our kids in our own ways. Thank you for your compliments as well. I try really hard to be real and tell our “story” in a way that will encourage and help other people think about their own lives as well. Thanks for taking the time to read and comment! 🙂

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