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Hope for the Imperfect Homeschool Mom

Every mom struggles with whether or not she is doing right by her children.  We are bombarded with countless voices telling us how to feed, clean, care for, educate, nurture and raise our kids.  It is often the cause for much of our anxieties and fears.  And homeschool moms deal with it on a whole new level!

If you’re reading this post, it’s probably because you see yourself as imperfect…and you could use some hope. You are most likely looking for hope because you think that your imperfections are a detriment to you, but more importantly to your children. You wonder if you will fail them in some crucial area that may just ruin them for life or at the very least keep them from achieving success or happiness or whatever you see as key to a healthy adult life.

I have a newsflash for you:  no perfect mother ever existed. EVER.

For centuries, every mom has gone into this gig with no manual, no absolutes, no guarantees. Before having children, some of us us had several theories on parenting and now we have several children and NO theories.  The reality is that parenting is mostly fluid.  So is homeschooling.

So why did you decide to homeschool?  Stop and think about your reasons.  Are they still the same?  Are you staying true to those?  If not, what has changed?

For our family, it came down to wanting my kids to grow up in a safe, loving environment.  A place where they could share their hearts, make mistakes and still know that they were loved.  We wanted them to learn to think for themselves.  We wanted them to find their passion.  Most of all, we wanted them to own their faith.

A dear friend once told me this: “If you don’t teach your kids anything (which is impossible because kids are always learning) and you just keep them OUT of the public school system, you will have done them a great favor.”  I have clung to this over our 22+ years of homeschooling, especially when it felt like I wasn’t doing enough.

Now before one of you gets crazy on me and tells me that there ARE good schools out there, I know that.  I had a very positive public school experience growing up but I still believe that, in countless situations, home is the best place for our kids.

Our culture has diminished and mocked the value of family, but God created the family unit for a reason.  No family is perfect, but when we minimize the importance of family life, we do our children a great disfavor.  This is why I am constantly saying that school should revolve around family, not family around school.  Our family life is not just a huge contributor, but foundational to our kids’ education.

So back to our imperfections.  I stink at math.  I managed to get through upper level math in high school, but once I graduated, it was GONE.  This wasn’t a subject I wanted to revisit, so when our third child (first boy) was showing great interest in math, I was of NO use to him, but never occurred to me that I shouldn’t be homeschooling him. I saw this as something we would somehow overcome together and I learned something:  present a problem to a kid with passion and he becomes a problem solver.  The world could use a whole lot more of those.

Here’s the thing:  homeschooling is a journey and there is a learning curve…not just for the kids, but for the parents.  The sooner we embrace that and realize that all the experiments along the way with this that and the other thing is what teaches our kids how to be resourceful.  They learn how to solve real problems with real answers.

Mistakes aren’t a necessary evil.  They aren’t evil at all.  They are an inevitable consequence of doing something new.”

“Mistakes are proof that you are trying something new.”

“It is impossible to live without failing at something, unless you live so cautiously that you might as well not have lived at all – in which case, you fail by default.”

The best gift we can give our kids is to STOP expecting perfection from ourselves and from them.  We need to enjoy the freedom that homeschooling gives us to make mistakes, to experiment, to problem solve and KNOW that our kids are going to be okay.  We live and love and laugh along the way.  We keep growing, we keep challenging ourselves and when things don’t work out as planned, we throw our heads back and laugh.  Most of all, we wrap our arms around one another and move forward in this adventure together!

(For more encouragement, check out my podcast, Durenda Wilson, and my simple,mercifully short book on homeschooling, The Unhurried Homeschooler {aff link} )

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