Tuesday, February 18, 2020

How I overcame my Fear of Homeschooling

I knew I needed to home-school Reuben. I knew it was best for him and what he and I wanted. I knew that when he was born, intuitively, like it was etched upon my heart along with the curls of his hair as they placed him into my arms that first time.

But I didn't know anything about homeschooling. And I had a lot of insecurities, a lot of questions, and a lot of fear. 

What if I couldn't do it? What if I ruined him academically? What if he grew up and hated homeschooling? What if it took all my time and I resented him, or it drove us apart? Suddenly, despite my high-school and college diploma, I felt utterly dull. What was I thinking, undertaking the education of one small boy--an education that would impact the rest of his life? 

Sometimes it is easier to trust someone else. That way I could blame them if he "failed". Did he get a F on his report card? Must be the teacher. Or the school. Definitely not me, his mother. Nope, I am Not To Blame.

No. No matter where I sent him to school, his education would still be, at least in part, helped and aided by me. And if I sent him to school, I would have no say who he was around, how he learned, what he learned and what kind of foundation his education was built on. I want him to have a biblical foundation--that God created the world, that he has purpose in God, not a Darwin-centered or vocational centered education. I want him to know he is learning for the rest of his life, not to "get a job" one day, and that learning doesn't start and end with from 8-3.

And, I kinda want to be there to see the light in his eyes when he "gets" something. I want to enjoy his first experiences reading, his first time writing in cursive. I want to be the one to talk him through a difficult subject or explore a new interest. I don't desire some teacher, with no time and 23 other students, to be the one to feed (or squish) the subjects he loves. I don't want him stuck sitting down when he might want to move, crammed in a desk when he might want to run. 

Yet I felt horribly disqualified. I don't know anything. Or do I? You see, mainstream education has trained teachers that already know their subject to impart their knowledge their classroom. I am not trained in every subject my son would learn. Sure, I have some education classes under my belt because I was an English ed major in college, but that was years ago. And the stuff they teach you about handling a class full of kids didn't seem relevant to educating one child.

I once again was trying to think of education as only existing within four walls and government schools. Homeschooling, as long as I follow the laws of my state--can look like whatever I want. Whatever my kid needs. I keep forgetting that.

I don't have to know, right now, everything I need to teach my child.

I can learn with him.

We can learn together.

And that--that one simple fact, that we could learn together--took all the fear away. If I can't remember how to do long division, I will simply learn before I teach my son. If I can't remember the names of the periodic table of elements, we can learn together. 

We can take it one year at a time. I don't have to think of the end picture--a competent 20-sometime man named Reuben and whatever-the-job he has, because that end picture might not even exist. I only have to think of the here and the now and what needs he has at four. I can do four. Five will come when it does and we will do five together. Six will come and go like the flash of lightening that is life. Seven. My boy, lord willing, will be seven and we will do math together at our kitchen table and if he cries I will tell him I used to hate math too, but lets find another way that works. Because there is a lot of ways to do math, but only one mother who wants to do it with him.

We can learn together and God will be enough. God is enough, for me and for him. And God gave me this boy, this wild running boy, to teach and to train, for the time he has allowed, and I won't squander it. I won't squander a bit of it.

Friday, February 14, 2020

How to Let Go of Control of your Children (and be okay)

I definitely struggle with micromanaging my children. I don't like it. I don't want to do it. But naturally, as their mother, I think I know what is best for them. And if I am not careful I can get stuck in the rut of constantly correcting their behavior (don't do that, don't touch that, stop fidgeting, put that back, that isn't how you do that, you made a mess again, why can't you listen, why can't you learn).

I feel like a record on repeat sometimes. I hate to hear myself, like a parrot, telling my child what to do and how to do it hour after hour, day after day. I hate to hear myself exasperated, again, that my four year old son can't remember rules that I can't even remember, or that I have just made up. So many "rules" are just things that come naturally to me. Things that might not come naturally to a four year old, inquisitive little boy. Things that I expect him to just "get" and "understand" when what I need to understand is that he is four and confused, and needs a guide, not a angry ultimatum.

I don't want to squash his creativity or put him in a box.

I may know that we don't pour muddy water all over ourselves at the park, but he may not. What may occur to me, might not occur to him and I shouldn't get angry at him for not adhering to my invisible rules. I guess I might be allowed to be angry, but I should not take it out on him.

He may want to color out of the lines. He may want to put stickers on his crayon box instead of in his sticker book. Or on the wall. Or on my cell phone (it still has one on it he put on "for mommy"). Yes, it's a pain to clean up, but is it really worth "laying into him" about? Does he need to hear a lecture about how he ruined my day with stickers?

I remember when Becky broke a glass. She was trying so hard to put it in the sink so mommy could wash it, but she didn't know it would shatter. I almost cried from how precious it was, how proud of herself she was. Her little face lit up as she hefted it over the side. "I put it up for mommy. I big". And it broke. I just couldn't be mad at her. She was so confused, it broke my heart! I think that is how I should see a lot of what my son does. He is trying to do what is right, but he just doesn't know what it is. Or he is trying to do what he wants, and needs to be helped to learn the world doesn't revolve around him. Just like I am still learning that it does not revolve around me and what I want for my kids, or how I "need" them to act.

So many times I get mad at my kids for not understanding what is clear to me, as an adult. I forget they live in a totally different world and that it's okay they don't know all the rules yet. They don't understand they shouldn't yell the word penis in Walmart, or ask people if they have one. (Yup this happened) (And it was okay).

My children are exploring this world and learning every day. I need to give them space to do this. I shouldn't, once again, expect little adults.

I also have been trying to let go of my children and give them to God. The above is part of this. I think I know what is best for them, what they should do and say and how they should act. But, I don't. Only God knows what is best for them, and what plans he has for them.

They are His, anyway.

I am terrified of losing my kids, of having something bad happen to them. But every day I lay down their lives before the Lord. Them, I, and this world... we are only here because he wishes us to draw breath. And we will draw breath until he decides to bring us home. I hope nothing ever happens to my kids, but I must trust God. He is enough, and will always be enough. I will have no other idols before Him, even if that idol be my own child.

Giving up control is hard. And scary. I like to be in control. I like to think I have it all together. But, don't worry. You are worse than you think you are--we are all mired in sin. I am sinful. I am fallen. I have only my savior to thank. My kids are always, have always been in Jesus' hand, and acknowledging that is part of laying down my life for Christ and taking up my cross to follow Him.

Do the good works. Follow your path that God has for you (not the path you want) and die daily to your Old Adam. Trust him with your children. He gave them to you for a reason. Trust him.

Monday, February 10, 2020

January Mother Culture

I am enjoying having some structure for my own growth! So, how did I do with my January goals?

I knit about 1/3 of my engle sweater--but as it is all stranded colorwork, I think I did great! The rest of the sweater is all one color, and should be an easy knit in the round to finish up in February. I also modified the pattern (by accident) in the beginning to that is why mine looks different...I'll go more into that on my project page.

My second goal was to read Missional Motherhood. I'm almost finished with it! Its such a good read, very encouraging, very humbling. I've learned a lot about motherhood, the bible, God, and myself. I highly recommend it for any woman. Even if you don't have kids--all women are called to nurture something, and that is the main point of Missional Motherhood. I also loved how she gives a overview of the old testament and highlights how it correlates to mothering. Foundational stuff, and something I have never seen in any other "mom book" out there-- a clear picture of Motherhood shown through the bible. She goes book by book. It's amazing. I didn't know there was so much in the old testament about motherhood. In short, read it.

My third goal was to grow in the art world. I love drawing and painting, but alas I don't have any skill in the above areas. You can only get better by practicing--so I want to make time to do that. I didn't make nearly enough time this month, but that's okay. In January I drew two things, (and none of them good, but that's just my opinion). The first was Becky, holding a balloon, and the second is supposed to be a tree but looks like an overly large bush. Neither are painted, but both use colored pencils. It's a start, and more than "creating art" I did have fun drawing with the kids and it helped me relax. So.

Next month, I hope to draw more and have a finished sweater. Today I am just trying to get over the fact that Becky refused to nap. Oh, well.

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