I am learning, in this motherhood and home education journey, that there is no one ‘right way’. It is tempting, with our sense of responsibility and awe for our role as stewards of God’s children, to keep looking for the ‘best’ – the best books, the best methodology, the best curriculum, the best schedule, the best discipline practice, the best fill-in-the-blanks. Sometimes it almost feels like an obessession, the constant looking and changing things up, fueled by that desire for the best – or by comparison and fear.
We’ve had a hard few weeks here and, though it is in part from developemental leaps in our children (think, big feelings!), I have realised that I have been a big contributor to that tension. Instead of being my children’s mother and faciliator in their learning, over the last months I have become a task master. Unknowingly, I have allowed words from people, images around the net, doubts about how we do things, and the good things that others are doing to create a fire of doubt and fear within me. Worried, dissatisfied, a bit frenetic – I try and make our homeschool something different, even though it’s been working amazingly.
I feel like we’re not Charlotte Mason enough. I feel like we need to do systematic history that the Classicals encourage. I feel like we need a more rigorous schedule. I feel like we need… But when I try and implement such things into our routine, it’s like fitting in a wrong puzzle piece. But I keep trying, and keep pushing, and keep attempting to make what isn’t us, us.
Yet I have not really sought God’s wisdom and will for us, or nailed down details with my husband. And I don’t consult the children because I know what they will say! No, instead, from niggly insecure thoughts and fear, I keep dragging our kids down this path of finding the ‘best’. So the tension builds, and we keep fighting, until there is just no peace in our home. Raised voices, squabbles, tears, frustrations, and clashes. And my relationship with my children, especially my eldest, is fraught and a bit broken, and none of us feel good at all.
Why do I do this? Why do I lift my eyes from the plough and look back? Why do I become like Peter who questions Jesus and His plans for another disciple, to which Jesus replies, “What is that to you? You follow me” (John 21:22).
In one of my favourite homeschooling books, A Little Way Homeschooling (which is about Catholic unschooling, though I am Protestant), Suzie Andres says:
“Whatever it is [how you homeschool, what curriculum you use], you will recognize it by the peace it brings to you and your children. Do not settle for anything less.”
Peace. It is very clear to me what brings peace to our homeschool and what doesn’t. When we do what works for us, there is joy, and fruit, and co-operation, and hope. Being together is just the best. Even on the hard days, those kind of days are just blips. Peace, on the whole, still reigns.
Yet, sometimes I become crazy, and I am afraid of peace. It feels too easy. And, if it is easy, something must be wrong. I therefore start my comparison and looking around, thinking that I am doing something wrong, because things feel right. But, what foolish thinking! Why does everything have to be hard, to be right?
So, after another one of my crazy times and injection of chaos into our home, I’m raising my hands and repenting once again of my folly. God knows what is good and right for us and I need to keep my eyes on Him, and nothing else. Then, that perfect peace we get when our eyes are fixed on Him, returns and all is right again in our home.