I was going to do it all. Have a godly marriage, a large family, homeschool, bake and cook healthy meals. My children would wear matching clothing, they would be always obedient, and never have dirty faces. I would be the one with the fresh baked cookies and flowers arranged neatly in the vase, having been just plucked from my perfect garden. My house would be always a warm place of hospitality with order and cleanliness abounding. And did I mention I would homeschool? Yes, I had great plans. After all, I had been taught at home from 6th grade on. I had it all figured out. Piece of cake!!
Shortly after my firstborn turned four, I was raring to go! A full curriculum complete with teacher’s guide had me ready to tackle raising my little protegee. I would beam with pride as my young man could read at an 8th grade level by 6 years old. I was on my way!
But, as baby after baby came the pregnancies, morning sickness, breastfeeding, sleepless nights and caring for lots of littles was a challenging task. Now instead of a perfect orderly house, I had legos on the floor waiting to be stepped on in the dark. We did well to find matching socks, let alone all matching outfits. If we had cookies they were most likely store bought. And the only flowers on the table, might be the occasional bouquet my loving husband would bring home to me. My perfect homeschool world was beginning to crash down on me. Notice I said, MY perfect homeschool world. The Lord was showing me that my plans were not necessarily His plans.
Then slowly, my health began to decline. Just a few years after we were married, after the birth of our second child I lost a kidney. A couple years later the fatigue began to hit me. I was diagnosed with hypothyroidism. Fast Forward many years. Adrenal fatigue, possible chronic fatigue and/or fibromyalgia, hormone imbalances, depression, and ocd have had me barely able to get out of bed many days. Simple decisions and minor tasks many times are overwhelming. Many morning I feel like I am coming out of a coma, many evenings find me unable to wind down. The couch often is my friend, and I have to carefully plan the ways in which I should spend my limited energy.
Where is my perfect homeschool world now? It’s gone. It is replaced by the world my Father has planned for me to have. I pray it is His homeschooling family now, not mine. I have learned that the box we often put ourselves in, the expectations we place upon us-are not of Him but of ourselves. Our relationship with Him, living for His glory, seeking Him daily, and learning day by day what HE wants us to learn is paramount.
Through my illness I pray my children are learning compassion, servanthood, and submission to the providences He brings into our lives. They have a much keener sense of our daily strength coming from Him alone as they see their mama struggle. I pray they are gaining wisdom far greater then any textbook they could read.
You have heard of the three R’s in schooling. I would challenge you to focus on the three L’s:
1. Loving the Lord
2. Loving to learn
3. Loving to serve
We have had to be creative with homeschooling and all the daily duties of a large family throughout the years with my health limitations. Here are a few suggestions if you find yourself in a short-term or long-term health situation…
-Do not feel guilty to ask for help. Over the years, my parents have been very helpful in whatever way they could pitch in, whether that is taking a child to a commitment, or doing our never ending laundry. I have also had “mother’s helpers” over the years, young teens that would come in to do whatever was most needed. Even someone who might shop for you and make a few freezer meals for the down days would be a blessing.
-Teach your children to be as independent in their schooling as possible. We have used Bob Jones Homesat, Computer curriculum, Online classes and Paces.
-Make a schedule that even your little ones can read. Keep it basic and simple.
-Make your routine to revolve around your bad days instead of your good days. This was the advice of my pastor’s wife who is chronically ill.
-Utilize teaching tools like netflix, drive thru history, audio books, science videos, etc.
-Teach as many things as a group as possible. Things like Mystery of History allow you to apply the lesson to youngers, middles and olders.
-Have your older ones help with the younger ones. Even early readers can read to toddlers and it solidifies their own reading skills.
-Remember that much of learning occurs outside of formal “school”. I love to see how in their spare time my son will invent an amazing tool, or my daughter will be reading a gardening book, taking pictures, or perfecting her drawing skills.
-Let go of your expectations of what your family, your schedule and your schooling should look like. Assess what are truly the Lord’s expectations.
Sometimes the Lord takes you places where you need to think outside of the box. This year with my health reaching a level where I could no longer carry the load of homeschooling, my husband has stepped in and rearranged his work schedule to teach several of my children. I have battled with disappointment in myself, frustrations over my limitations and comparison with others that can do more than I can. But, this is where the Lord says that His strength is made perfect in my weakness. He will perfect that which concerneth me. And my thoughts are not His thoughts, nor my ways, His ways. He is working all things together for good, not just for me, but for my family. I am the perfect homeschool mother for my children because I am the mother that God gave to them. My weaknesses as well as my strengths are perfect for them. And He is working all things together for His good. If I had been able to “do it all” I would’ve been lifted up and pride – thinking it was my achievements. But instead our dependence must all be upon Him and may He get all the glory!
Jenny has been happily married to Steve for nearly 20 years.
She is a homeschool mom of eight children- ages 17 down to
22 months. She used to blog over at amothersheritage.com but
has put it on hiatus to use her given strength for her family.