Thursday, August 14, 2008

The Unexpected Outcome

Never once had it traipsed across the landscape of my consciousness, this outlandish idea that I could educate my children at home... myself.

Why would I do that? How could I do that? Where would I start? What would it require? And, again, why would I do that?

Assuredly, those would have been the questions I would have hurled at you had you asked me, only eight short years ago, if I'd considered homeschooling.

After accepting the gift of a Christian life and lifestyle around the time of my first child's birth the only sensible option, in my mind, was private, Christian schooling. The fact that my church of the time had (and still has) a very well respected and well established Christian school only helped cement this notion in my mind.

I didn't actually disagree with homeschooling. I had just never ventured that far away from mainstream thinking regarding childhood education. I grew up in public school and had never in my youth even considered that, under different circumstances, I might have been educated differently. That's just the way things were. That being the case, I felt my aspirations to give my children private, Christian educations were lofty, indeed!

Never mind giving them private, Christian educations MYSELF! And,
truly, it never came to mind.

That was, until three-quarters of the way through T-Rex's Kindergarten year, when Ron was unexpectedly let out of an agreement by the small, struggling company for which he worked at the time... two-weeks before the birth of Butterfly. We were paying for that pricey, kindergarten-sized, private, Christian education month-to-month as it was. And, though the school offered to defer our payments temporarily, until we were once again employed, we opted to take T-Rex out of the school. Being in debt to our church was not a prospect that appealed to either one of us!

It was a difficult decision.

T-Rex would finish out the month of February, which we'd already paid for, and then, with my 22-month-old and two-week-old daughters in my arms, I would begin to... homeschool???

Neither Ron or I was sure this was a good idea but we'd already ruled out public school after our experience with T-Rex's public K4 "education," and had no other options (aside from renting T-Rex to a circus).

So... with a Boppy pillow, a potty chair, a box of kleenex (for wiping away my cascade of tears), and my three "oh-so-dependant" children always within arms-reach I began to homeschool.

I could detail here for you some of the ins and outs of teaching beginning reading, writing, and arithmetic with one baby at my breast and another wrapped around my ankle, but that will have to be another blog post for another day.

The objective of this article is to tell you about the miracle that somehow weaved itself into the fabric of our lives despite the mounting diapers, the un-synchronized nap schedules, the potty accidents, the repeatedly interrupted homeschool lessons, and the constant company of all my young ones.

Somehow, unbelievably I discovered I still liked my oldest child... a lot!

You're shocked, I'm sure, that I would make such a candid statement but it's, nonetheless, the truth. At some point along the time-line of T-Rex's young life I'd unknowingly bought into the idea that I was supposed to eagerly await the onset of his daily departure; that sending a child off to school would mark the beginning of a lighter, easier SAHM-life for me.

But what I'd failed to notice was that between the rigid schedule, the washing and re-washing of school uniforms, the drop-offs and pick-ups, the push to sell the fund-raisers, the field-trip chaperoning, monthly snack obligation, the difficulty getting him moving in the morning, the grumpy-sleepy, fussy boy that came home to me, and the money it cost us for these privileges, my life had become more complicated... so much less enjoyable. And, worse than all else, the emotional connection I held with my sweet, darling boy had waned.

I never knew it until I got it back.

Once again he could sleep until his precious, growing body awakened naturally, pleasantly. Once again he was my lovely, eager, bright-eyed boy. Once again I was happy to spend my days snuggling, reading, learning, (and, okay... nursing, potty-training, and cooking) with all of my children "at my heels."

And he thrived!

I thrived!

Our family thrived!

If I had ever thought I was the involved parent during those first three-quarters of his kindergarten year (and I did) then I was mistaken. I had, very briefly and very unknowingly, taken a huge step towards uninvolvement. It was revealed by, among other things, the depth of search required in every K5 subject to find exactly what he'd learned, what he'd completely not understood, and where to start teaching him.

So... as I reflect on what have I gained as this same child of mine prepares to begin his eighth year of homeschooling and the 7th grade... I'd have to say I gained him... and Seashell... and Butterfly... and L'il Bear!

My husband and I, for this all-too-short stretch of time, hold our children's hearts and minds,

and as for them... they hold ours!

...and that's just my $0.02!


runaheadofme said...


Anonymous said...

I see a book in your future.

Anonymous said...

That's amazing! I can relate to sooo much. When I started tom homeschool, my husband had just left for the Marine Corps, my son was 18 months, and my daughter was in kindergarten. It's tough, and seems crazy when you think about it, but like you said - it's wonderful and worth it.


JuletteMillien said...

I so agree with 'anonymous!'

Thank you so much for this honest and inspiring homeschooling story. People have such confused ideas about the process.

As I shared with you, I'm seriously considering homeschooling my two boys - they've been in public school all their life! Needless to say, they're not willing.
But it's a parent's decision and we intend to make it carefully.

Your depiction of the advantages - the bonding of the family, not to mention the superior education, has swayed me further.

I think my boys will one day thank us as our daughter did, eventually!

Thank You Tonya!

Linea Jones said...

This was beautifully written and from the heart. You have shed light on a subject that I've been thinking about more and more lately. I seem to find myself asking, How do moms do it? You've clearly answered that here.

Thank you Tonya!

Anonymous said...

I loved that post! Keep writing (but no pressure ;)


C said...

I loved that! Great post Tonya.
Keep writing (but no pressure.)

Uwem said...

That was absolutely incredible. You have a beautiful way with words and I would certainly buy a bunch of copies of your book, so when people ask me what I was thinking when I decided I want to homeschool my kids, I'll just hand them one.

That was truly inspiring and I'm sure Keith will certainly thank you for making me want kids even more now! LOL

PS. I'm Tonya's sister-in-law!