facing fear and doubt

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Some of you have already read how we formally started on this homeschooling journey 5 plus years ago. (If you haven’t, you should read it first.) There, I share many of the facts and resources leading us to our decision, but what I’ve shared little of is the emotion in this process. The fear. The doubt. The faith. I’ve now met many mothers and fathers who knew they would educate their children from home before they even had children. That was not me. Until Liam was three, I had never once given it a thought. I didn’t really know anyone who had been educated this way and sadly I still subscribed to the same generalizations and stereotypes many people do concerning homeschoolers: awkward, culturally out-of-touch, geniuses. (Isn’t that embarrassing?) Without even pausing, I had assumed school to be a necessary rite of passage for anyone wanting to be — well, normal. Afterall, didn’t it work for me?

The truth is, no matter how many persuasions or successful accounts you read or hear in defense of home education, in the end, YOU still have to do the work. You have to determine what it looks like in your home, for your children, for your budget and your time. The glory and freedom [gratefully] allowed to home educators in the US can equally cause paralysis and fear, especially when you haven’t experienced it yourself or through observing another family close to you. That was me. For every bit of my idealism and enthusiasm about home education, I felt the equally lurking doubts and fears of can I really do this well? Will my children hate me for it? Am I depriving them of a necessary social responsibility? I wish I could say these feelings have obliterated and I’m completely confident and carefree about my abilities as a parent and educator; I’m not. Regularly, we pray and ask the Lord for discernment about all of these things, and honestly, this is where we have landed each time. Although I work hard, researching and planning and teaching, I’m aware of the Lord’s grace over me in this process. We didn’t choose to homeschool out of fear of public school rather because we asked for wisdom and agreed together this is where the Lord was leading us. I’m mindful of an excerpt from Walt Whitman’s poem, Pioneer, O pioneers!

We detachments steady throwing,
Down the edges, through the passes, up the mountains steep,
Conquering, holding, daring, venturing as we go the unknown ways,
Pioneers! O pioneers!

I am not a pioneer in terms of the homeschooling movement itself, but I am for our little family. And with each step forward in faith, venturing unknown ways, persevering, self- educating, staring down the fear and doubt, I am hopeful our children will inherit something greater, even if it is unknown to me right now. At the very least, in all of this, they can also discover that education is more than a class or a worksheet or a book; it’s a life-long process, and we never outgrow it.

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