Someone very wise once noted that we never really come face-to-face with our own shortcomings until we become parents. I’d add that we really, really don’t see our sin as clearly as when we’ve been homeschooling for a day or more (I was probably minutes in when I realized I really didn’t have it all together).
This is tough for those of us who count ourselves among the driven. The over-achievers. The ones who want to see our kids live up to their potential, and who spend a lot of time thinking about how to make that happen. For some of us, this is the very reason we’ve chosen to homeschool.
Whether you come by your drive organically or have some external motivating factor, it’s easy to see the curriculum, read the blogs and books, hear the lectures, and feel pressured by the Instagram feeds—Do more! Try harder!—they seem to scream. And we’re left battered, weary, and worn.
How do we step back from the perfectionism and the drive? How do we allow our children the room to grow at a pace set by God, not by our goals and dreams for them? How much doing and trying is enough?
Bondage to the Homeschool Idols
Years ago when our oldest boys were about seven and five years old, I purchased a volcano science kit for them to build together. Science isn’t really my strength, but I had perfectionism and pride down pat, so when I couldn’t figure out how to get the thing working, I totally blew up like a, well, volcano. The memory of me yelling and leaving the room is etched deeply in my mind, as is the timid way my oldest son walked toward me to tell me how the whole thing was supposed to work. He was right, my pride was offended, and there was no peace in the house that day. I cringe whenever I think of it, 20 years later.
There was also no peace around our homeschool in those days. I rigidly set the schedule and the achievement levels and the crazy pace of outside activities that were meant to make stellar human beings out of my kids. But I forgot one crucial component: the Holy Spirit. I thought I was so smart but in the end, I was incredibly daft, and it brought absolutely no peace to my life or our homeschool.
Where might all the striving ring true for you, too? In what ways are you pushing your kids and yourself to try harder, do more, be smarter, show the in-laws that this homeschooling thing works? Because there’s a name for all of that work we do on behalf of our egos: idolatry. And here’s the thing about idolatry—it always leaves us in bondage. There is no peace and certainly no freedom when we find ourselves in bondage to the idols we have built with our own hands.
Peace for the Weary Homeschool Mom
So where to begin when we realize we’re creating erupting volcanoes instead of lush, quiet valleys? Begin by trusting that God knows what is best for your kids and your homeschool. Ask him what the non-negotiables are (there are likely fewer than you might expect), what he wants you all to learn this year, and to take the burden from your shoulders to do all the things society and your community might be pressuring you into.
The other truth the Psalmist relays to us in that verse? God will be exalted without our efforts to try and make him so. He calls us to a life of peaceful abiding, not striving and perfection and incessant doing. If we continue on in our own strength and by our own ideals, we create a yoke and a burden that he never intended for us. The Lord beckons us into a life of rest!
Big goals aren’t necessarily a negative thing. Schedules and plans and pursuits can round out a life lived to the glory of God. But if our goals reflect the idolatry of our hearts, we will never be at peace. We will be weary homeschool moms. And peace is a gift the Holy Spirit lavishes upon us when we rest in his perfect plans!
Author, Kendra Fletcher
Kendra Fletcher is a mother of 8, speaker, author, and 22-year homeschool veteran. She is the author of Lost and Found: Losing Religion, Finding Grace, and Leaving Legalism, and she regularly writes for Key Life Ministries. The Fletchers reside in California, where they play in the Pacific Ocean as often as possible. Find her here: www.kendrafletcher.com.