Did the title throw you? I bet it did since I am a homeschooling mom. I worked at our local election polling place awhile back and during the course of the day I talked to a lot of different people who came in to vote. Of course, when you're talking to someone they're going to ask questions about you and what you do. My standard answer is that I'm a homemaker and homeschooling mom - and the response on this particular day was the exact same every single time: "OH, I COULD NEVER DO THAT!" Sometimes with a look of panic, bewilderment, or shame. They then followed up that exclamation with one (or several) reasons why. I've listed the most popular reasons below and my thoughts on them:
- I don't have enough patience. Sisters and brothers, I am not Michelle Duggar. She amazes me with how she speaks so softly and calmly no matter what the situation. I think one of her ambitious little guys could be hanging from a chandelier and she would just gently and patiently talk him down! I'm kidding of course...I know she has struggles just like the rest of us. The point I'm trying to make is this: "homeschool/stay at home mom" does not equal "patience of a saint." I've yelled and lost my cool before many times. Some days I still don't know if I have enough patience - and on those days I rely solely on prayer. Sometimes I just end up throwing my expectations out the window and starting from scratch. The Modest Mom just wrote an awesome post about homeschooling and patience called, "Homeschooling is not for the patient at heart, it's for the determined!" I highly recommend reading it if you're interested in homeschooling and/or concerned about having patience.
- I couldn't stand to be around my kids that much. This one baffles me, to be honest with you. Why have children if you don't want to be around them?! I guess people probably don't mean it that way but that's sometimes the way it seems. So am I around my kids every waking moment of every single day? Do I never have a moment to myself? No. I will admit that homeschooling does take up a significant portion of my day and yes, I am a "stay at home mom" which means that the majority of my time is spent with my kids...but I don't really care. It's kind of my job! However, with that said - I am also my own person who likes doing my own thing sometimes. So I teach my kids to work independently on projects and homework, and to be able to do other things on their own, without my constant supervision. Plus: they sleep at night, they
almost neveroccasionally take naps, they play outside in the yard or by themselves in another room, we go places and they play with friends, they spend time with their Dad, etc. I also do take the occasional night away from them while they stay with their grandparents or my aunt. So anyway, the point I was trying to make is that homeschooling does not equal "TOGETHER 24/7."
- I can't afford to not work. One person told me that we must really be struggling because "no family can live on one income." We've always lived on one income and I can't say that we've ever been poor. We've had times where we've had to scale back or where things have been challenging - especially when my husband was unemployed - but me working wouldn't have changed that. We actually figured it up awhile back and with most types of jobs I could get, I would basically be working for free after paying for fuel, childcare, work clothes/materials, etc. I and my husband personally feel like the mother's place is at home, caring for her children and home. (But having said that, I know that every family's situation is different and I don't feel like that's automatically the right choice for every mom. I have many friends who are moms and who work outside the home because of their unique situations - high cost of living, financial difficulties, husband is attending school, etc. The list goes on. I also have an Aunt who is a single mother - she doesn't really have a choice, she HAS to work. My own mother was a work at home mom when I was young. She was a beautician who ran her salon from within our home and she was also an Avon lady. Later on when I got into Junior High/High School, she got a job away from the home at a social services agency. So this is not an anti-working moms diatribe! Every situation has it's own unique circumstances.)
- I'm not smart enough/I don't have a degree. I personally don't think you always have to have a degree to teach. My highest level of education is "some college." I graduated from High School and went to college for awhile but never got a degree. However, I am a constant reader and I love learning new things. I also want my kids to have the best possible education - for us, with the options we have available, right now that is homeschooling.
One great thing about homeschooling is that you can learn right along with your kids. Although mine are still small, I'm enjoying revisiting things I'd long forgotten. I make sure I know what I'm teaching and if I'm unsure of something, I look it up or consult with others. There are so many great programs and curricula out there that if you need help with something, you can find it. There is also the option of tutoring or having someone else help you with a class or subject you may feel not as "qualified" to teach. (I will definitely be looking into that as my kids get further along in Math!)
I read a great blog post recently about how we talk to others on The Mom Pledge Blog called Civil Discourse. Although it doesn't exactly pertain to this it does in some ways. It also makes some excellent points on judging others and ourselves - "We are all just trying to do the best we can. I have moments when I'm sure another mother could look at me and judge. Harshly. I judge myself in those moments. I beat myself up about them, reliving them in my head and questioning or regretting my actions and my decisions."
What it boils down to is this - we all make choices. I hope that the choice you make - whether it's about homeschooling, staying at home with your kids, or any other parenting decision - is made with a lot of careful thought, consideration, and prayer - but in the end, it's your decision. Once you've made that decision, own it. If people ask me, I tell them why we homeschool but I don't usually bring it up until then. Same with other parenting decisions I've made. If they want to know more, I'll tell them. But I'm done defending myself for no reason. Don't be mean because you're worried about whether you made the right decision or not and don't defend yourself because you feel guilty, jealous, weird, or whatever reason - just own it. Be kind and polite. It's all good! :)