It was the summer of my 12th birthday. As was the yearly ‘get-out-of-school-ritual’ I’d head to Charlotte, NC from Virginia to visit with my Uncle Darrell, Aunt Mickey and their then four children (they have six now).
This extension of my family was fascinating in that they were a black family that was totally unique to what I’d ever seen or been exposed to.
A black family where the Mom stayed home, breastfed her children, the dad worked an amazing job (at IBM as a computer programmer), cared for the bills, they lived in a large home (over 2,000 sq. ft.) in an affluent neighborhood…..AND THEY HOMESCHOOLED.
This was back in the late 80’s. A super big deal during that time.
My 12 year old eyes saw this example as one that I wanted to one day copy, immulate and follow.
Each day in this ‘Huxtable-like’ family were:
daily bible study with the children
date night for my Aunt and Uncle
weekly meal planning
long heart to heart talks
year around homeschooling
chats of children heading off to college to be whatever they dreamed they’d become
I looked forward to seeing this each summer. Which I did until I was 15 years old.
I looked forward to capturing mental notes of what seemed to be ‘the perfect example of family.’
I looked forward to dreaming up my very own marraige, family and homeschooled children.
Fastforward that to when I said, ‘I do’ to my husband of 26 years.
I’ve been fortunate to be the ‘stay-at-home-mom.’
I birthed four children. Breastfed them each. (Adopted four children.)
I was married to the husband with the amazing paying job.
I had the daily Bible studies with my children.
I had the weekly chore list on the fridge.
I had the long heart-to-heart talks with my children well into their teen years and into the 20’s with my eldest.
I had the big home in the affluent neighborhood.
I had the year around homeschooling.
I had the dreams for my children to head off to college and become whatever they wanted to become.
What happened to the dream that I dreamt when I was 12 years old?
What happens when homeschooling isn’t enough?
Certainly the perfect marriage, the perfect dreams, the perfect plans AND HOMESCHOOLING my children will produce an outcome that any Mom or Dad or family could boast about, right?
You all know my story.
I’ve homeschooled my children for 18 years. All eight of them. Three we’ve graduated and five we are still homeschooling. We make our home in the Northwest part of the state of South Carolina where we are self-sustaining farmers although I’m a vegan farmer. My purpose driven life is to make a positive impact on 1,000s of homeschoolers worldwide.
What you don’t know in my bio is that after all the many years of heart-to-heart talks; all the dreaming; all the Bible studying; all the praying together; all the ‘making life and memories’ together; all the ‘I love You’s; all the hugs; all the homeschooling;
My eldest daughter was released from living in the home with the family….
At 20 years old.
We had the picture, perfect homeschooling family.
Even sharing and recounting this part of my life brings a lump in my throat.
But…. I felt that this is a very quiet subject that many homeschooling families don’t find freedom to talk about.
The topic of: The imperfections of homeschooled children and homeschooling families.
Our daughter didn’t care to continue with the expectations and requirements of the rules of the home……
So like what many of us have grown up hearing all our lives, “If you don’t want to follow the rules of the home then you don’t care to live in the home any more.”
Nothing has broken my heart more than to say, “We release you to live your life but not under this roof.”
We had no clue that one day that would mean we’d not see nor hear from her again for long periods of time. i.e. four months or longer at a time
I mean….totally incognito. No calls. No facebook messages. No contact what-so-ever.
This is a big deal because we’ve always been a very close knit family. No Perry child wanted for anything emotionally, physically or ‘wishfully.’ (if that’s a word).
Call me naive.
Call me misinformed.
Call me full of wishful thinking.
Call me green.
I really thought that if we homeschooled our children then we’d protect them from the bad influences of the ‘world.’
I really thought that if we homeschooled then I would be able to ensure they’d have positive connections to help shape their lives positively.
I really thought that if we homeschooled we’d shield them from this-that-and the other.
Thursday, March 23, 2017 proved me wrong. Well, truthly years before this date proved contrary to my perception. We just didn’t know it.
March 23rd, started with us preparing for co-op. Me chatting with my eldest for a bit. Hugging and kissing her goodbye. Wishing her a good day while we were gone to co-op.
It was a normal homeschool day……
Proved my beliefs wrong.
Proved my hypothesis wrong.
Without a doubt I firmly believe in the power of homeschooling our children.
Without a doubt I would choose no other method than homeschooling our children.
Without a doubt I’d do nothing different than what we did in our homeschooling journey.
But what do you do when homeschooling isn’t enough? (I know the ‘go to’ answer is, “trust God.”)
It isn’t enough to ensure they will grow up to be confident and self-assured children.
It isn’t enough to ensure they will marry well.
It isn’t enough to ensure they don’t battle mental demons nor relationship struggles.
It isn’t enough to keep your teen on the ‘straight and narrow.’ (whatever that is)
It isn’t enough to keep your children from choosing a contrary path than their upbringing.
It isn’t enough to ensure their journey to an Ivy League school.
It isn’t enough to ensure when they head off to college that they’d keep their morals and convictions they grew up to have.
It isn’t enough to ensure they will have a drive to succeed in life.
It isn’t enough to ensure they don’t attempt or succeed at taking their own lives via suicide.
It isn’t enough to ensure they will not struggle with learning challenges.
It isn’t enough to guarantee anything other than they will be well educated by parents who love them immensley.
What do you do when homeschooling just isn’t enough?
For me the answer has been found in the fact that rather homeschooled, public schooled or private schooled……… when their educational journey is said and done and they forge onward along the course set before them…..
There are no guarantees.
Uhhhmmmmm….. that reality is a major shocker to this ‘red personality’ Mom who calculates life well with a clear expectant outcome.
So if I do this….then this will happen.
So if I do that…then this will be the result.
So if I….. So if I…. So if I….
And the fact that homeschooling didn’t ensure that my eldest daughter would choose to stay with the equation that I had planned at the age of 12 for my life and of the lives of my children wasn’t enough of a wake up call……then I don’t know what was.
And the truth is that homeschooling will not ensure anything different for my remaining seven children.
As you can see this post isn’t just about homeschooling.
Also about parenting.
It’s about the raw truth of what homeschooling doesn’t offer as guarantees.
It’s also to give you homeschooling parents some encouragement.
Hang with me.
Here it is….
Dad. Mom. No one will ever love your children more than you will.
Dad. Mom. Your homeschooled children may never realize the sacrifices you kept hidden from their eyes.
Dad. Mom. Your sweet little homeschooled children that stole and overwhelmed your hearts with love at their birth may one day rip the same heart right out of your chests.
Dad. Mom. Your children’s journey in life really has nothing to do with you at all.
Dad. Mom. No matter how hard you try you will not be able to protect your children from everything. Not from themselves. Not from their choices. Not from those who they choose to align themselves with.
Yes, all of this sounds like doom and gloom.
It’s sounds hopeless and disappointing
Yeah….. it is.
However, it’s a fact of life.
A fact that you don’t truly get until you walk it yourself.
You know how we do.
(clears throat) How I do….. How I did….
I looked at another family who has some struggles with their children (homeschooled children) and figured out that the parents ‘must have done something wrong.’
Not loved their children enough.
Not gave their children enough attention.
Not permitted enough freedom in their lives.
Not listened enough.
Not exposed them to a variety of people.
Dad or the Mom wasn’t around enough.
The list goes on. And you know exactly what I’m talking about. 🙂
Now being on this side of the fence…… I see that it’s. not. so.
Most homeschooling parents…… heck, parents in general may cross all their t’s and dot all their i’s yet still have unexpectant periods of gut wrenching journeys they may have to walk through with their children.
And if they do it doesn’t mean that they raised their children wrong. Or they screwed up as parents.
It just means it is what it is.
The fact is that as we homeschool our children it is a great chance it will not be enough.
Yes, they may leave the home well educated.
But being well educated don’t often translate to smooth sailing in life for our homeschooled children. Or them making wise choices. Or them staying far away from the influences we protected them from all their lives.
That’s a tough pill to swallow.
Yet, it is what it is.
To answer the question, “What do you do when homeschooling isn’t enough?”
You realize that there is no homeschooling family on this earth that gets a ticket to ‘perfect.’
You realize that your job is to raise, teach and instruct your children but ultimately they will have the say of their journey and choices of life.
You realize that you still have to treasure hunt, grasp tightly and guard with your life every ounce of joy, peace and contentment that you are afforded.
You realize that your homeschool parental job description does not include having perfect homeschool children that never bring gray hair to your head. Lol.
Truth be told it took me a while to get to the settled mind-set that I have today.
It took lots of prayer, journaling, talking with girlfriends, talking with my Mom, meditating and therapy.
With seven more children in the home my ‘homeschool-parenting eyes’ have opened so wide.
Ages 20, 18 (she’s in college), 14, 11, 9, 9 and 7.
They have a different Mom than I was before Thursday, March 23, 2017.
That’s the last normal homeschool day we had with our daughter. That day was co-op day. She and I chatted for a while in the kitchen during breakfast. We hugged each other. We kissed. I wished her a good day and see her later.
Later was three days of her missing with no contact and our fear of if she was alive or dead.
The very next week….it happened again. She went missing for three more days.
But……they definitely have a difference Mom since October 2017 when I came out of deep depression because of my homeschool family fiasco.
I believe that we are all better for it as a family. Now.
Lots of expectations and facades are dead and gone.
Living the story I want to tell is the theme of my life and the tone for our home.
Homeschooling with abundance of love while holding them each loosely.
The lessons I’ve learned are numerous.
It’s taken me a lot and seems like a life time to arrive here.
But when homeschooling doesn’t seem to be enough……. you don’t throw the baby out with the bath water.
You see the good.
Hope for the best.
And homeschool exceptionally all while embracing the realities.
(Please cover my beloved eldest daughter in your prayers. For protection. Freedom of mind. And clarity of what’s true and accurate. Pray she becomes overwhelmed with the reality of the abundance of love and affirmation she has from this family. And pray that we are reunited again soon. Very soon.)
(Share this post as you just never know what homeschooling family is privately walking through a hard, difficult and challenging time with their homeschool child and needs this post of encouragement.)
Angela Jordan Perry, is a wife of 26 years, homeschooling Mom of eight children, mentor, entrepreneur, host of Girlfriends’ Guide to Homeschooling show, podcast host of Girlfriends Chat with Angela Jordan Perry, founder/Executive Director of Educating Our Own, founder/director of STEAM Co-Op of the Upstate, Co-Founder of Uhuru Co-op, Mocha Homeschooling Moms-SC founder, owner/director/administrator of United Community of Homeschoolers Unlimited Option 3 Accountability Association, direct marketer, mad’am farmer, Toastmasters Competent Communicator recipient, racial injustice activist. Angela and her family make their homestead in Campobello, SC.