I get the question a lot. I’ve gotten it when we all trek to an appointment together. When we hit up the playground after our school work is done by ten (on a good day). When I’m out at Target or grocery shopping in the middle of the day with my tribe on a school day and they realize my children aren’t out of school but homeschooled. First, they screw up their face, look at me like I’m certifiably insane (probably also because I have so many children–“My, you have your hands full!”), and ask why I homeschool.
To be fair, there are lots of reasons. This cradle Catholic, rule-following, overly organized, perfectionist has a little bit of hippie in her. I love free days. I love where I can just move from routine to routine with my children. I also love filling their education with Jesus. I want them to be productive, faithfully Christian people. I love saying I’ve taught two of them to read. I love finishing our school work, and then deciding spontaneously to jump in the car for a park trip. But there’s a bigger reason than all of these that I’ve been too ashamed to say.
I love being with my children.
My favorite season in life was having little ones filling my house before any of them were old enough for school. We just…spent the day together. I saw them learn about the world around them, develop, and grow. And we just lived in the present. We snuggled a lot. We rested. We read books and played. We were together. And I always thought I’d put my children in school. I was adamantly against ever homeschooling. I did not have the patience, was too afraid of the huge commitment. But, the February before my oldest was supposed to start school, I started deeply mourning the loss of our time together. At that time, I felt Him tapping me on the shoulder.
Hey. So, I need you to do something for Me.
So, I started reading. I borrowed some books from a friend who was homeschooling her daughter down the block. I went from absolutely no not! to Maybe this could work for a year. So I prayed. Hard. And I felt called to do this. I felt that it would stretch my patience and teach me to be less perfect and controlling. To let go. It would give me time with my children, instead of taking it away. And we could still be together.
Each summer, before school starts, I read a lot again. Teaching From Rest is always reread. I say a novena and I discern what is best for our family this year. I listen to Him and see if He is still calling us down this road. And I sit down each of my children who will be at the school table.
Do you still want to be homeschooled?
And I listen. I weigh their opinion, because sometimes I know better than them. But every year, they say the same thing. Yes. Yes, Mommy, I still want to be homeschooled. And their reasons are always fundamentally the same. They want to be able to play with their baby brother, they like finishing up and playing with their four year old sister. They like helping me with stuff during the day. They like being with me all day.
They love being with me.
How amazing. They, these small and precious souls, would rather be with me all day than go off to be with a classroom full of friends. That makes my heart sing. They would rather play with their brother, run around with each other, and be with me at home than go off to school with kids their age. That’s beautiful.
I don’t know if we will homeschool forever. I feel very strongly that this is a yearly calling. We’ve had some really tough years where some nearly went to school mid-year. We’ve struggled to find our groove for entire school years. Some years, like this last one and the first year we homeschooled, were mostly full of beauty and peace. As they have learned hard things in their lessons, I’ve learned tough lessons too. Relax. It will get done. Don’t feel you have to do it all. You are good enough.
Someday, that school table will sit empty. Whether it’s because they’ve moved onto a brick and mortar school, or because they are college-bound, their will come a morning when no one gathers around that small table. We will not pull out books and sit. I will not get my coffee, sit down, and take a breath to start another school day. I will not feel stretched running after little ones and trying to stay on top of lessons. I won’t be reminding them for the tenth time to put away their books. And I will be so sad. Because while they will go on and do amazing things and learn elsewhere, a season will be over. And we won’t be able to just be together.
And I love when we are all together.