I’m re-reading an old homeschooling chestnut again: “Lies Homeschooling Moms Believe” by Todd Wilson. Let me just say that if you’re a homeschooler, or are thinking about homeschooling, or know a homeschooler and want to support them, then this is a good book for you to dive into.
The paragraph that jumped off the page at me today was this:
“It doesn’t help that homeschoolers are bombarded by images of the perfect homeschooling family. Their smiling faces appear on the front of homeschooling books, magazines and on convention stages.”
This is so-so-so true. Especially here in the Northwest. Go to a homeschooling convention, and you’ll see those families: the family where the girls all have coordinating ankle-length skirts that are obviously handmade, with long hair and soothing voices. The boys are all in clean (!) white (!!) button-down shirts with ties that match the girls’ skirts, and are busy holding the doors open for their mother (who is either looking blissfully and radiantly pregnant with #14 or cradling a cooing (never screaming) baby. The father is strolling along, either at the front of the herd (the Pathfinder) or at the rear, dispensing advice to an eager listener (the Shepherd). Later, they all show up on stage with violins (even the baby), and perform Bach or Mozart with perfect stage presence, and their four-year old steals the whole show.
You know what? My homeschooling family does Not. Look. Like. That. For one thing, nothing in our closets coordinates with anything else in that closet, let alone matching clothing for anyone else in the family. My oldest two haven’t had more than a half dozen legit piano lessons this year, and I’m a professional piano teacher, for pity’s sake! My youngest hates to be put down, and the Moose is known for having a pew allergy. He’ll sleep on the floor, or on Daddy’s lap, but sit quietly on a pew and listen or draw during church He Will Not.
I switched curriculums for spelling, language arts, writing and math in APRIL, and we’re still behind where I want to be. We are making up Science and History this summer, because I had morning sickness so bad last fall that I couldn’t stand to sit up and read, let alone do experiments.
My house is a wreck. We moved a year ago, and I’m still moving in.
But! Rosebud was complimented in church for her vocabulary (“What 7-year-old uses the word “ambience” in a sentence??”) and at the bank for her reading level (“She reads chapter books? That looks like something I read in junior high?!”) I am always being told that she’s such a ‘little mommy’ with her baby brother. Natter is constantly coming out with natural history factoids that I recognize from the book or online, but couldn’t recall out of the blue to save my life. His phone skills are improving constantly; I don’t have to run for the phone anymore. He can also do laundry, drive a tractor, and make simple foods. Even the Moose, who is still working on speaking intelligibly, can count to 15 unassisted and helps with small chores.
What makes it possible for me to not get too hung up about those perfect homeschooling families is this: the Moms Group of homeschoolers that I hang with throughout the year. When we first starting officially “getting together”, we made a pledge that this would always be a place where we could be Real.
Imperfect house? Children that run wild and create all kinds of havoc? Learning disabilities, stubborn wills, lazy kids, wacky priorities that need straightening? We can air all our dirty laundry, get reassured that we are not the only imperfect mothers with flawed offspring, and gather some pointers on ways that others have dealt with the same issues. We tell stories about what crimes our kids have perpetuated that week, and many heads eagerly nod, “Mine did that too!” We can wail, “What do you do about this?” and six people will offer stunningly intelligent suggestions (many of which I’ve brought home, incorporated, and been amazed with their effectiveness.)
Don’t get me wrong: if Mr. Caffeinated wasn’t whole-heartedly supporting me, I’d have an awful hard time teaching the troops at home. But – the grease that keeps the wheels moving, the thoughts turning and the courage coming is my lovely, wonderful, wacky, inspiring, educating, crazy and constantly encouraging, intelligent, experienced, and God-fearing group of moms.