First of all, I love homeschooling. It's just a natural part of my life after all these years. This is my 13th year "officially" homeschooling, as we registered our homeschool when my oldest entered Kindergarten. But we began our homeschool journey two years before that, when she hit preschool age, which makes this our 15th year of homeschool.
Even though I love being a homeschool mom, and I am committed to it, there are days that I honestly wonder if public school might be better for everyone in the family. It's the days when it seems like learning is the LAST thing on my kids' minds and they are doing more whining and fighting than schoolwork. It's those days when they push every button I have and step on every single nerve, especially the auditory nerves. And it's on those days when I've heard one too many "but mom" and one too many "Mom, so-and-so took my pencil" and one too many high-volume dispute ... that I do start daydreaming.
I start to daydream about what it would be like if the big yellow bus did stop at the end of my driveway and took my 6 oldest kids to school each day. I think of several hours of quiet each day, with only two little ones left at home. Of course, then I remember how early the bus arrives for rural riders, and that is the first glitch in my daydream. I imagine myself trying to get those six kids out the door on time each day, fully dressed, fed, with all their schoolwork and lunches packed. Hmm. Suddenly school is looking a little less lovely and a little more stressful.
Then I start to think about the permission slips and teacher's notes to sign, the fees for different events and activities, the back-to-school shopping, the fundraisers we'd be expected to participate in, deadlines and due dates to remember, the meetings with teachers, the phone calls when one of them acts up, and being called by the school nurse to drop everything and retrieve a sick child. I imagine the after-school activities, the homework struggles every afternoon and evening, and the need to have every child showered and in bed early enough to get up the next day and do it all over again. Then homeschooling starts to seem more appealing again.
I realize that many parents who don't homeschool wonder how I can do it. How can I teach all my kids every day and keep the house and stay sane? But I often wonder how they manage to keep up with the public school schedules and activities, keep house, often work outside the home, and still stay sane. Every mother is busy, every mother gets stressed, and every mother feels as if they're failing at some point. It doesn't matter if we homeschool, private school, or public school our children ... we are all guilty of comparing ourselves to other mothers and feel as if we're not measuring up, or as if the other moms somehow have a nicer life than we do.
But in the final analysis, I know that homeschooling is what is best for our family. I would rather be the one making decisions about school for our family -- from curriculum choices, to when school is going to be "in session" or not, right down to when we'll be taking field trips. I'd rather have my kids home all day, even when they bicker, than rush around every morning trying to get everyone out the door on time. I'd rather carefully choose what activities best suit our family needs than be pressured into joining multiple activities (per child) because their friends are all doing it. I'd rather be my children's teacher than try to keep track of what each child is doing through teacher reports and digging in their backpack. I'd rather decide what is best for each of my children, and when they're ready to tackle a particular subject, than have to be my child's advocate with a teacher who doesn't know my child as well as I do. Being a public school Mom would stress me out more than being a homeschool mom does. But that's just me.
If I were a public school mom, I'd be the one having to wake up the little ones to drive a late child into school at least once a week because they couldn't find their other shoe. I'd be the one who forgot to return a permission slip and had to call the school to see if there was any possible way my kid could still go on the field trip. I'd be the parent driving into town to deliver a forgotten lunch. I'd be the one whose child arrived in plaid shorts and a striped shirt because it was either let him go like that, or have to drive him into town myself. I'd be the one who forgot to send baked goods when I was supposed to, grumbled and complained about being pressured into selling cookie dough or helping out with a field trip, and I'd probably end up missing a parent-teacher conference ... or two. I suppose after a few years I might be able to get the hang of it all, but it would be an ugly and messy learning process.
So the next time the kids are driving me crazy, and the next time I feel as if I'm failing them as their teacher, I probably will daydream about the big yellow bus again. But I know that I won't be putting my kids on that bus when the daydream ends. It's just not who I am. Besides the fact that Steve and I firmly believe God asked us to homeschool our kids, I also know I just wouldn't make a very good public school mom. Even on my worst days, I'm better at being a homeschool mom than I'd be as a public school mom. It's just who I am.
Starting fresh every single day,