The Ideal Homeschool Mother
You are God’s first choice for teaching your children. Out of all the possible women on earth, He chose you to be the mother of your children. Likewise, He chose your children to be raised in your family. He created you for each other. He determined the unique mix of temperaments and gifts that make your family one-of-a kind. He has a unique life message that only you and your family can present to the world.
Sometimes—okay, frequently—we moms fall into the comparison game. We hold up in our minds a picture of The Ideal Homeschooling Mother, also known as the Proverbs 31 Homeschooler. This woman has it all and does it all. She gardens, cans, freezes, cooks from scratch, and sews all of her family’s clothing. She raises livestock for meat and dairy products. She runs a home business to supplement the family income. Her house is immaculate. And her dryer doesn’t even eat socks!
She has at least ten children and homeschools them all, allowing for their different ages and learning styles. She finishes every book in every subject every year for every child, while developing creative side projects and unit studies. She never gets behind on grading papers. Her lesson plans are completed for the entire school year in August. She is an expert on every curriculum, whether or not she’s used it, and often counsels new homeschoolers.
She never raises her voice in anger to her children but is always calm, cool and collected. Her children, and even her pets, are perfectly behaved at home and away. She is always dressed neatly and you will never see her children with dirty faces. She uses creative table settings every night at dinnertime and regularly shows hospitality.
She is an exemplary wife to her husband and assists him in every way. This Ideal Homeschooler volunteers for church and community groups. She leads the local support group and helps with the state conference. She is politically active, writes letters to the editor, and knows her representatives by name. She has devotions every day and memorizes Bible verses while going about her tasks.It has never occurred to her (as it has to me) that sometimes she would just like to run away from home for a couple of days!
The Ideal Homeschooling Mom doesn’t exist, of course, at least not as we have described her. You must realize that the Ideal Homeschooling Mom for your family is YOU! Yes, you with all your faults and insecurities and fears. When you don’t feel adequate for the task, you are exactly where God wants you, realizing your own weakness and inability to do the job. When we acknowledge our need for Him, He is quick to strengthen us for the task. God’s will never leads you where God’s grace cannot keep you. His power shows up best in weak people.
I have not graduated from the Management for Moms program at the School of Experience yet. Those who come into my home weekly for piano lessons know that I am very much a work-in-progress. Our sunroom, which doubles as a waiting room for my students, is a staging area for the latest project or event at the Washburn household. Depending on the season, it may include county fair supplies, hunting clothes and equipment, or props for a musical production. Sometimes dust takes up residence on the piano and piles of paper are not uncommon on the rolltop desk.
Our house serves us—we don’t serve the house. Only by sticking to some basic routines do we keep from collapsing under clutter and drowning in dirt.
Many were the weeks that I didn’t get my sons’ schoolwork graded. Sometimes we would grade it together; sometimes we just moved on. The boys would tell you we had more boring days than exciting days in school. And yet, perhaps the routine of an ordinary day is a better preparation for adult life than cultivating the expectation that every day will be a Disneyland Day. Every lesson needn’t be a marvel of creativity and excitement; there will be a certain amount of slogging along in every homeschool.
You may have heard the story about the pastor who was discouraged to learn that his flock could seldom remember what he had preached on the previous Sunday, despite all the hours of preparation that went into each message.
A wise old parishioner said, “You know, Pastor, over the forty-six years my wife and I have been married, she must have made over two thousand dinners for me and I can’t recollect more than a few of them. But I ‘spect that if she hadn’t kept on making all those ordinary, forgettable meals through the years, I’d have starved to death by now. Don’t you think it’s the same for you and your people? Without your solid Biblical teaching week after week, we may have spiritually starved these last many years.”
It is easy for us to look at other moms and put them on a mental pedestal. We see only their public lives which seem to be so perfectly in order. But God sees the heart and the behind-closed-doors life.
When we elevate another person, we risk trying to copy her instead of becoming all that God designed us to be.You are the only person in the entire world who can be you. Be the genuine article—You—not a cheap imitation of someone else.
When we engage in hero worship, we set up ourselves for the inevitable disillusionment that comes when something the person we admire does disappoints us. A pedestal is a very narrow platform—a step in any direction guarantees a fall. Don’t do that to your leaders or to yourself. To continue growing, they must, like us, keeping moving on. This is impossible if they are trapped on the tiny platform of others’ expectations.
I saw an ad for a new women’s magazine recently. Their target audience is "the real woman...not the homemaker, but the educated, independent, serious woman and girl." Obviously their editorial staff has a different view of the ideal woman than we do. Yes, we strive to be well-informed, whether through formal education or through self-education. And most of us are serious about what we do. But we wear our title of Homemaker as a badge of honor, not as a second-class citizen or in some way not a “real” woman.
Live Your Life in Chapters
Don’t try to be and do everything at once. Let your life unfold day by day. Scholars tell us that Proverbs 31 describes a woman’s whole lifetime—she didn’t do all of those things at once, and neither should we.
I am very much a work in progress—just ask my family and friends. I didn’t begin serving beyond the local level until my children were well past the dependent stage. Writing and public speaking are new chapters in my life that I would never have attempted during the Survival Years of Birthing, Breastfeeding, and Burping.
I don’t have all my ducks in a row--why would I try to organize ducks when I’m still working on me! And this is what we want to model for our children—a person who admits faults and asks forgiveness; a person who is willing to stretch beyond her comfort zone and try new things, even snorkeling in the open ocean; a person who rejoices in her calling as a homemaker—the one who is privileged to care for her family, her husband, and her home.
When we try to do it all, we cheat ourselves of God’s optimal plan for us. Clementine Churchill, wife of Winston Churchill, joked that her epithet should read: “Here lies a woman who was always tired, for she lived in a world where too much was required.”
Don’t allow the world to determine what is required of you as a homeschooling mom. Give yourself permission to relax and enjoy the journey. As you delight yourself in the Lord, He will direct you along the paths He has selected for you. He will lead you on side trips you would never have chosen. They will prepare you to share the unique message He created for you to leave as a legacy for your children and grandchildren.Don’t shortchange yourself, your family, or the world by trying to be like someone else. God has selected you to be your children’s mother. Relish and rejoice in that role. Your children are blessed to have you. YOU are God’s first choice.
(c) 2003 by Marcia K. Washburn. For more encouragement, check out Encouragement for Homeschool Moms from the Management for Moms series here.
Feeling discouraged? Check out Encouragement for Homeschool Moms here.