Not so long ago, my three girls were all age 7 and under. In fact, they were 7, 2, and newborn in 2009. Those days were full and tiring and messy and beautiful and I wouldn’t trade that time for anything in the world. Keep calm and homeschool on became my motto. That can sometimes be easier said than done, but I hope I can offer some encouragement to others going through the same thing.
On a day in our home not so long ago . . .
“This is just not my day,” I muttered under my breath as I cleaned up the juice my active two-year-old daughter had spilled on the kitchen floor. I had just cleaned up her potty training accident when she decided to squeeze her juice box just a little too hard, making it erupt through the straw like Mount Vesuvius.
More liquids? Really? I sighed. This required her second outfit change of the day.
Did I mention it was only 9 am? My attitude wasn’t the best, I have to admit. I really wanted to sleep in, or maybe take a “personal day” like I’d been able to when I was in the “real” workforce.
“Mama, what mammals besides dolphins and whales live in the ocean?” asked my eight-year-old daughter as I changed the youngest’s (9 months old at the time) diaper.
“Uh, seals, sea lions, and walruses,” I answered off the top of my head.
“What about marsupials? Do any marsupials live in the ocean?”
I sighed again. “No, I don’t think so.”
I sat down on the floor next to my toddler, holding the baby in my lap. My oldest daughter sat down with us, too.
“What does PM stand for? Is a fox in the cat or dog family? Why do we change our clocks? I forget, how many different kinds of penguins are there? Maybe we should Google it? Maybe we can look at pictures of dolphins . . . ”
The questions continued faster than I could answer them. As the toddler tried to balance blocks on her head and the baby pulled my hair, my mind wandered. I’ve got a hamper full of laundry, a stack of bills to pay, homeschool lessons to plan and teach, and a grocery list to write. I don’t have time to sit in the floor and play right now. If only I had a minute to myself to catch up . . .
Amidst those thoughts, I heard my oldest daughter’s voice break through my brain fog. “Mama, when I grow up I want to be just like you. You’re the best mom in the world!” She wrapped one arm around my shoulder and the other around her sisters and drew us into a group hug. It was amazing how revitalizing that cuddle time was for my heart!
She wants to be just like me? She didn’t know about my inner grumbling or the doubts I sometimes had about the significance of doing tedious household chores with a smile.
She wants to be just like me.
She said it with honesty and enthusiasm and love. I realized in that moment that my own attitude was the lesson. If I treated the girls with respect and kindness, they would reflect that in their own attitudes. If I complained, how could I instill in them a spirit of contentment?
That’s when one of my favorite Bible verses came to mind:
Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers. Galatians 6:9-10 (NIV)
What could I do in my day that was more important than loving my daughters well and teaching them by example?
I want to point out that the frustration is far outweighed by the joy. Thankfully, the days that I want to “call in sick” are few and far between. I truly take joy in being with my girls and watching them discover the simple beauty in life. Their carefree innocence is a gift. It refreshes my own spirit to see their childlike faith and nurture their growing walk with the Lord.
Being a stay-at-home, homeschooling mom is often a thankless job. Note I said thankless, not unrewarding. The rewards come in hugs, kisses, and the satisfaction that you have been faithful with the blessings God has given you. What greater reward can there be?
Encouragement for you
Are you feeling overwhelmed, alone, and exhausted by homeschooling right now? It happens to everyone from time to time, but it doesn’t have to be the end! I’ve been privileged to write two chapters in the latest book from the iHomeschool Network — Homeschooling: What to Do When You Want to Quit.
This book is just what any overwhelmed homeschool mom needs to overcome the doubts and push past the frustration. It offers personal stories, practical advice, and a good dose of encouragement from a variety of homeschool moms who have been there and know firsthand the challenges. Feeling alone? Lacking support? Wondering if you’re up to the task of homeschooling? Can’t keep the house in order? Struggling to be all things to all people in your family? This books covers it all! Each chapter is written by a different mom with experience on the chapter’s topic. All of it comes together to be a positive and practical outlook on difficult situations without being unrealistic or sugarcoated.
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