During those early pre-school years when first discussing the numerous options for our children’s education: public school, private school, Christian, Montessori, homeschool, old school, new school… (When I heard the term Sudbury school for the first time I immediately thought of a city in Northern Ontario, and when I first heard the term Waldorf in relation to education my mind quickly wandered to tasty salads and NYC hotels!) While we did not always agree about everything, my husband and I could agree about one thing for certain, (we would even joke about it) I was so not the homeschool mom type.
We agreed that there were two types of parents, specifically mothers; those who were perfect “homeschool moms” and those who were not.
I was predisposed to fall into the latter category, clearly.
While other perfect homeschool parents might be into Bible-based-baking or teaching math, manners and memory drills to their children; I imagined those were just the moms who were wearing jumpers spun from the wool of their own sheep, raised for a first-place winning science fair project that they helped chair after they organized the fundraiser, baked a pie with berries picked from their own organic garden and crust made from a new hybrid of gluten-free wheat that their little brilliant progeny engineered via non-GMO heirloom variety seeds handed down from their ancestors whom they found during their family history studies, located during a geography trip to their ancestral homeland and brought back home to sprout (sprouted grains being the only real living food worth eating besides kale, of course) as part of a nature study/science project that included all natural chemical free alternative methods of fertilization (remember the sheep?) and sweetened with raw organic honey from their own apiary (the bees also help pollinate the gluten-free grain crop; no neo-nics on that field!) before canning a jar for Home-Ec and sending it off to the fair (also a ribbon placer) after they painted a mural (of said berries, bees and field; complete with a map of their ancestral home, a diagram of a seed and timeline of the history of pie) and decorated the display hall for art class, all with their brood of four to fourteen year olds scurrying along to help. The recipe for the award winning pie would be uploaded that same evening by the fourteen year old and made available for sale in the latest edition of organic, raw, vegan, gluten-free cookbooks from their on-line, home-based family business.
Therefore home educating ones own children was just for some rare breed of supermom I figured. I however, was not cut from that home-spun cloth and I hadn’t worn a jumper since, well… never.
So what was a normal (translation: less-than-perfect) mom, like me, to do?
A normal mom who had once been home educated herself. (You can read more about my personal experience as a home educated child here: O Pioneers! A Personal History of Homeschooling.) I could still look back and see my own homeschool supermom (working very hard at being “practically perfect in every way”) perched at the sewing machine, sewing adorable new outfits for all of her children. She could be found doing this even when touring all over North America with her family, maintaining a busy schedule in the recording studio, writing music, ministering at hundreds of churches and conferences, hosting workshops and seminars, singing, sharing her story of redemption and spiritual transformation and literally teaching the younger women “How to…” etc. When home from our road trips she could cook anything from scratch, deliciously. Once, at her children’s request, she even made frog’s legs after one of our adventurous visits to the pond. It tasted like fishy chicken. She breaded it with corn meal and we washed it down with a frothy glass of milk. We felt like Tom Sawyer; memories were made; then we went off in search of further adventures.
I couldn’t imagine myself doing that no matter how much my children asked.
Mom would do things like teach us how to make sassafras tea from roots (the same root that’s in root beer) that we harvested from the hillside. That was after she taught us how to identify the leaves of the sassafras plant in the first place. At one point she showed us how to make our own candles. When she planted a garden we helped in the garden. She knew the names of many trees and birds and critters. She could sing, write poetry and song lyrics and taught us to do the same. She was, and is still, a woman of virtue and generosity. I could go on and on (see: Thanks, Mom! Encouragement for Homeschooling Moms) and I did, whenever I was listing all the reasons why I could not be a perfect “homeschool mom” throughout those early years when my husband and I would discuss the options for our children’s education.
And let me tell ya, home education was not on the list.
Of course eventually I changed my mind (you can read more about that here: Just RELAX already! Relaxed Homeschooling, How We Began). My children have been happily learning at home for nearly eight years now. They are fun, creative, intelligent and witty. They don’t know how to identify sassafras leaves or make sassafras tea. We’ve never made our own candles at home. Although, once we wrapped bees wax candles at a resort during their planned family activity time. *smile* I have in my possession the very machine with which my mother used to sew all her amazing creations, but it’s packed away in a box awaiting repairs for many years now. I don’t have a replacement, and I sent my own daughter to external sewing classes. We’ve never planted a vegetable garden. We live in a new subdivision with a back yard the size of a postage stamp. So I bought a potted herb garden and two hanging baskets from Costco, and my daughter planted seeds in a small container that have grown into a basil plant that sits on our tiny deck.
Their childhood will look very different than mine; it will look different than their friends. Because God made them distinctively different on purpose and His plan for them is uniquely different.
And different is good.
So I am comfortable being different. I have made peace with not being a perfect mom, (“homeschool mom” or otherwise) and have settled for being a good (translation: different) mom instead. We embrace the fact that we don’t look like what a perfect “homeschool” family looks like. Because there is no perfect family. But there are a lot of great ones, and each one is different and beautiful and unique! And I am thrilled to be an integral part of one of those less-than-perfect families.
God has blessed us with our own children to nurture and instruct as He leads and guides us.
“As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.” Joshua 24:15
Have you ever felt like you could never be a ____________ (fill in the blank) because you don’t look like what you think you should look like? How do you do it differently?
If you have school aged children how did you decide what school they should attend or if they should attend school at all? What different alternative education options have you ever considered: unschooling, private tutors, online instruction?
Kindly share diversity in the comment section.© Una-Melina 2013.
Part 4 of a 6 part Back-to-School series.
This post has been updated and rewritten from the original found in the July, 2012 archives (Note: the original post has now been replaced with the “new and improved” version you see here) and is posted here as number four in our series as we head “back to school.”
For the month of August we will be revisiting some of our most popular education and homeschool posts. Stay tuned!
You can read the first post in this series here: Just RELAX already! Relaxed Homeschooling, How We Began.© Una-Melina 2013.