Saturday, April 26, 2014

The Mothering Chronicles 11: When Homeschooling Mommas (and all the other mommas too!) Hit a Wall

I homeschool my boys.  Essentially what this means is I'm a lunatic.  Who, might I ask, in their right mind would give up a paying career to teach children at home . . . unpaid?  There are several obvious flaws with this choice.  1.  No pay.  2.  It's hard.  (If I taught in regular school, I might get to teach the same subject to the same grade each year.  In homeschool I have to learn new material every.single.flipping.year.  And that was all well and good, pie-in-the-sky, happy-happy-joy-joy when we did faux-archeological digs and attempted to make hot air balloons.  But Algebra?  Really?  Somebody stab me in the eyeballs with a thousand sewing needles and relieve me of my misery puleeeeze! )  3.  You have to fold laundry WHILE you teach.  4.  I no longer have a justifiable reason to buy cute new clothes every fall because the official homeschool teacher's uniform is track pants, fuzzy socks and a sweater.  5.  Did I mention the part about no pay?  Yeah, okay, moving on then.

I also run.  Years ago, when I first began running, I used to pray that God would send me a butterfly, a deer, a fuzzy caterpillar, ANYTHING to distract me from the jog.  I'd go for about five minutes, then all of a sudden, my legs were cement.  You could not have held a gun to my head and gotten me to jog one step further.  I was lamenting this dilemma to a girl with uber cute running shoes and very tidy-hair who pertly replied, "You're just hitting your first runner's wall.  It's normal.  It happens to everyone . . . even me.  You have to run longer than seven minutes."  She said some kind of scientific-smart-runner stuff about how your mind doesn't tell your heart to adjust its pace until the seven minute mark.  My eyes glazed over.  All I heard was, "You can do this.  Just run longer than seven minutes."  Hope.

The other day, I was running with a friend.  She's been wanting to learn to run (I know, right?  How do you learn to run?  I think it's just like walking except faster.) for like a year.  She's doing way better than she even realizes, but she seems to hit a wall.  So, I thought I'd go with her.  Sure enough, we're jogging along (Did I mention when I jog it sometimes feels like there is someone riding piggy back on my waste?  It's just my bootie bouncing, but I feel you should know it's the size of a small child.) and she says, "I can't do this.  I'm gonna have to stop." 

I'm like, "Oh no.  You're not stopping.  You've got this.  Keep going."
She's all, "No, I can't keep going."
I'm, "Can you feel your pulse in your temples yet?"
She, (heaving) "No."
Me, "Then you're not stopping.  You've got more in you.  Keep going."

Eventually, she stops.
Just a millisecond because I turn her around and point her down hill and tell her, "NO!  You are not stopping until time is up.  You can do this.  Keep going.  Don't quit.  Put one foot in front of the other.  Slow your pace if you have to, but do not quit."

I feel you should also know she was packing heat, so I was very brave in pushing her so hard because at one point when I pointed out a very large bull-frog on the side of the road to her (What?  I thought she would enjoy the distraction!) she said, "At this point, I. DO.NOT.CARE."  I am like ninety-nine percent sure she had her hand on the trigger when she said that, but I could be mistaken.  Maybe.

Anyway, she saw the wall coming.  She kept telling me it was coming, and then boom!  She.Hit.That.Wall.

And I've been homeschooling my sweet princes for six years now.  And boom!  This year, I hit the wall.  We're talking full-on homeschool burnout.  (Way worse than the garlic toast I burn in the broiler oven every single blasted time!) My eldest is headed into 9th/10th grade courses. (Yeah, I know, right?  One of those moms whose kids don't know what grade they're in.  So annoying.)  The younger is headed into 6th.  And I feel like I am headed into the grave.

And you're probably laughing, cause it's kinda funny that I say I feel like I'm headed into the grave, except I'm crying while I type those words because dadgum, friends, sometimes you just hit the wall so hard that you feel like you're gonna bleed to death.  And it isn't just mommas who homeschool because I cannot even listen to my working-out-of-the-home sisters' schedules without having a panic attack.

I bet you are just as sure as me, like ten million percent sure that every official, politician, and school board person who ever put their little brains together and decided that Algebra was necessary for a kid who is clearly NOT going to be a math teacher could probably be certified as insane.  That or incarcerated for acts of evil.  Or both. 

Can I also tell you that I rank listing last year's grammar and science books on or ebay and then praying they sell for a good price so I can buy more curriculum for next year higher on my list of torturous tasks then plucking nostril hairs out?  I do.   (A little education for those who don't have to sell their curriculum . . . it sits in a giant box waiting patiently for me to list it.  Listing it involves meticulous explanation of what exactly the material is, the edition, the year, and what comes with it.  Then you have to respond to annoying, perky first-year homeschoolers who want to know if there are any scratches on it and does it come from a pet-free home?  Ummm. Hello?  I homeschool boys.  Two clues there:  1.  Boys--Yes, there are scratches. 2.  Homeschool--That's practically synonymous with pets.  Sorry about your luck, little lady.  You're going to find rabbit hair and probably boogers.  I'm just saying.

Now some might question my decision to home educate or try to solve my "wall" by suggesting that I stop, put the kids in school, get a paying job, quit my whining and call it a day.  Okay, thank you for that.  But it's a bit like telling the person who wants to become a runner to quit running and start walking, isn't it?  Here's the rub on that just so we're clear.  I'll totally quit homeschooling as soon as God tells me to.  Promise.  He's the one who got us started on this journey that I swore I would NEVER take, and so I'll keep going until He says otherwise.  And trust me, I check in with Him on that pretty regularly. Usually in those conversations He starts calling me Jonah, I immediately go grab Moby Dick and holler "literature lesson in the living room now!" and then I don't eat fish for a week.  Good talk, God.  Thanks.

But if you want the truth, the honest truth, home educating is just a lot of long, hard work. (Kind of like parenting, right?)  And the weight of the responsibility of seeing these boys through their education is like an elephant riding on my shoulders.  Not even just an elephant.  A pregnant elephant.  With twins.  Dear God, it's heavy.  I can't screw it up.  It's all on me.  I mean, if your kid is in public school at least you can point one or maybe two fingers at the government, the teachers, the school board . . . SOMEBODY . . . if they don't learn everything.  With home education, every finger is pointing at me.  And I'm such a wimp.  I hate people pointing at me. 

And the other thing is this, after you've done it a while, sometimes you just feel like you are over it.  I'd like to read a book that doesn't have to do with Ancient Greece, please and thank you.  And honestly, Shakespeare, I'll take a few of your quotes, but really?  The rest?  I used to love your clever words, but now I'm tired and I want Good Housekeeping recipes and time to try them out.  (Also, I think that was a run-on sentence which makes me want to murder the person who invented grammar. Or maybe just maim them. That would be fine too.)

But this morning, I sat down to read my Bible in Mathew 4.  Jesus called Peter, Andrew, James and John from their careers as fishermen to be his disciples.  Then he takes them and goes out healing masses of people, tending to their needs.  I'm picturing Him out there patiently touching scaly skin and glassy eyes, caressing crying babies and breathing new life into broken limbs.  And these people?   They come by the dozens because they heard he could heal.  They heard he was healing people no one had ever been able to help before.  They just keep coming and coming. You know he's got to be exhausted after a while.  They all need him.  They're counting on him.  Every finger's pointing at him.  The elephant's on his shoulders, and the Bible says they came in multitudes. 

After a while, Jesus sees the multitudes, and he goes off to a mountain where he sits down with the disciples.  Just the 12 of them. 
And I fall in love with Jesus all over again when I notice that he took them off by themselves away from the crowds.
He's so perfect, isn't he?
He gives them this upside down sermon where he tells them, "Hey, remember the poor in spirit that we've been seeing in all these crowds? Yeah, well, they're gonna inherit the kingdom of heaven.  Remember the mourners?  The ones who were grieving the death of their spouses, their children?  That doesn't annoy me.  They'll be comforted. It's the merciful that will actually receive mercy. See, it's the meek, the ones who are laid out flat like a pancake, that will inherit the earth one day.  . . ."  And man, I feel like my life's been flattened like a pancake.  Rolled out thinner than pie-crust.  So thin, it's sheer and I feel it would shred were I to try to pick it up.

And I wonder if he told them that sermon cause they were fed up?  Done.  Tired of all those people grabbing at his attention, demanding his time.  I wonder if at first they were flipping out excited about the miracles and the thrill of the journey, the thrill of following Christ in this new thing, but if, after a while, they were just a little over it all.  So he righted things for them.  He set them straight.  Reminded them.  Helped them to see the way of things.  His way.

I love that sermon, I do.  But it's the sitting with the disciples that just washes over me.  After all those big miracles and crowds, when I know he had to be exhausted.  He sat down and talked with his disciples . . . those he called.
He just sits with the ones he calls, you know?
You and me.
Because whether he's called us to be a momma, a home educator, a public educator or a doctor, we all hit walls sometimes, don't we?  And it doesn't mean we quit.  Doesn't mean we go back to fishing.  It just means we need to sit a while.
Let him set things straight.

Mary knew that, didn't she?  Martha's sister?  Remember?  She chose the one thing that was "needful" while Martha was encumbered and troubled over many things.  Martha and I are actually twins separated at birth.  Mary is definitely adopted.

Because she must have understood that Jesus is The Way through the wall.

Didn't he say, "Come to me ye who are weary and heavy laden and I will give you rest?"
And sometimes we say we believe Him, but our words and our lives don't always line up. 

These aren't new things are they?  There's nothing new under the sun.  Mary and the weary and heavy laden verse . . . we've heard those sermons preached, haven' t we?  It's not that we need a new book, a new preacher, a clever pinterest quote or better curriculum when we're burnt slap out, is it?  We just need to do the simple thing that works.

Sit on a mountainside (or a sofa) with Jesus.
Be with the one who said, "Apart from me, you can do nothing."
Be with the one who said, "The one who calls you is faithful and he will do it." 
Be with the one who said, "Lo, I am with you always . . ."

I don't think walls bother Jesus that much.
He made one come down just by having people march around it.
The Israelites just had to believe He'd do what He said He'd do.

So, I'm sitting before my own little wall. 
Sitting here with the one who gave me my marching orders six years ago.
Sitting with the one who promised that he "will do it."
And I'm like, "Hey, God.  I'm so out of breath.'
And he's all, "Keep going.  I'm with you always."
And I'm heaving, "I think I feel my pulse in my temples and my head may explode."
He's, "My promises are true.  Do you believe me?"
And I'm breathing a little easier, "Yes, but will you help my unbelief, God."
And those walls?
I think they're cracking, tumbling down a little.  Maybe?
Because He's good.  And He loves to sit with us a while.


Kelli said...

And walls are nothing to Him. The One who walks right through them just to prove His faithfulness! Love you friend!

Anne Arnold Pierce said...

love you

Leslie said...

Love it and love you

Anonymous said...

I've been straddling the "working outside the home/homeschooler mom" road for the last month or so and this was salve to a weary soul! Thanks for your transparency! Love you!

Bretta said...

Thank you! This week I found myself saying, "why did I even bother to homeschool?" and then I closed my eyes and remembered...and I know deep in my heart that it was so worth it! So worth KNOWING our children. So worth grounding them in truth. Guarantees? There are none. Promises? They are many!!!! Love you, friend!

Sarah said...

Thank you all. A lady posted this comment on facebook, and I thought, Oh Wow! I hadn't even remembered about Jesus appearing through walls. He's so good and so present. Here's her quote. "My favorite line in this post: "I don't think walls bother Jesus that much." Reminded me of Easter... "On the evening of that first day of the week, when the disciples were together, with the doors locked for fear of the Jewish leaders, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!”

Kristi said...

I wanted to thank you for this funny and insightful post. I've definitely hit a wall over the last couple of months and I've worn myself out. I really relate to your post and appreciate it so much.