“The moment a child is born, the mother is also born. She never existed before. The woman existed, but the mother, never. A mother is something absolutely new.” -Osho
This is one of my favorite quotes about motherhood. It’s so very true: when we give birth, we shed the skin of our former selves and are born anew as a woman forever connected to her child. Our selfish selves can no longer exist, for we are physically, mentally and emotionally bonded and responsible for this new little human who has come from our body. This happens with each subsequent birth- when a new life enters the family, life resets and a new dynamic takes shape. Motherhood is a constant evolution and the most intense and thorough form of self discovery. We can’t possibly know how we’ll feel, what we’ll believe or what choices we will make until that baby is birthed from our body and in our care.
There are many things in my experience of motherhood that I never imagined doing: homebirthing, breastfeeding until my children outgrow the need (my oldest son weaned in his 5th year), and adopting a holistic, natural-minded lifestyle are a few. But the biggest surprise of all would have to be homeschooling. I never imagined that “homeschooling mom” would be part of my motherhood identity. I always carried the typical stereotypes of homeschooling in my head: isolated, anti-social kids who seem to be missing out on life. I probably thought it was strange and certainly never imagined that it would become part of my own lifestyle. In all of my parenting choices, I have let my instincts guide me and have made educated choices that feel right for my family. Homeschooling has become an extension of our “natural-minded” lifestyle and a beautiful opportunity that I feel fortunate to provide for my children. It was when my oldest son (now 6) was around 3 that we started doing “circle time” on a daily basis. As an only child, “playing school” was something I did on a regular basis and throughout my life, I’ve worked with children in various ways (babysitting, volunteering at daycare centers, working at KinderCare). It felt natural to me to begin doing learning activities with my son at home and I began reading and researching homeschooling. A couple of close friends felt similarly and we often discussed the concept together. My husband didn’t immediately understand or agree- we are both products of public school and we turned out fine, didn’t we? But after many discussions and exploring the idea together, he was on the same page and supported my feelings. It was a natural evolution to arrive at the decision that I would homeschool our kids.
Homeschooling has been an amazing journey so far: to see my kids learn together… to learn along with them myself… to give them enriching experiences that are “outside of the box” of traditional classroom education- I feel so lucky to be doing this wonderful work! I feel that if I have the means and desire to provide my kids with this enriched lifestyle, our whole family benefits. I couldn’t really imagine sending them to school where they are one of many- every child learns differently, at their own pace, has different styles, strengths and weaknesses. I couldn’t imagine them spending the majority of their day sitting down and having to share the focus of their teacher with 20-some other children their age. I can’t imagine my boys not being able to spend their learning time together and missing out on the many ages of kids (and adults) they interact with. At this point in our experience, I have seen so many benefits to our homeschooling lifestyle that I can’t imagine it any other way! I don’t think that all aspects of public school are negative- there are pros and cons to everything. But I do know that it’s a different world than when I was in school and I can’t confidently say that public school would be the best I can offer my children. I want more for them.
Homeschooling isn’t easy- it’s downright hard at times- but it’s beyond worthwhile. Many moms (realistically, probably all of us!) experience times of doubt. We often question if what we’re doing really is the best option… if we’re “good enough”… if our kids are getting enough out of what we’re offering. Asking those questions alone shows that you ARE doing it right…that you are selflessly giving to your children the invaluable gift of your time, your energy, your desires to want the best for them. Isn’t the easier choice to just send them off to school? By homeschooling, we’re providing our children with a way of learning that’s enriched, well-rounded and personalized- something that simply can’t be found in even the “best” of the public schools. You don’t need a degree or special certification to offer this- your love, devotion and time is more than qualification. As a mother, you provide a standard of care that can be matched by no other.
I’ve found that SO many families are choosing to homeschool these days. It’s far more common now than ever before (well, except when it was the norm back in the pioneer days!). In wanting to connect with like-minded moms and kids to join us on our journey of learning, I decided to start a group which would serve to provide the social aspect that both the children AND the moms thrive upon. We all need and benefit from the connection to others and the circle of amazing women whom I’ve become friends with has enriched this experience so much for me. The friends my boys have made through our homeschooling circle has given me the reassurance that they’re not missing out on any of the social benefit of public school. We do academic and learning activities as a group, as well as fun parties and adventures. I am a better mom through the friends I’ve made through homeschooling. The women I see on a regular basis through our group classes and get-togethers truly inspire me to be the best mom/wife/woman/friend I can be.
I’ve learned as a mom- in all aspects, not just homeschooling- that my time is no longer my own. Someday when my kids are grown and don’t need me as intensely, I’ll have it back to myself. But for now, I’m learning to be ok with not accomplishing everything exactly when I want. In life, our best laid plans don’t always turn out exactly as we hope (and sometimes, that’s for the best!) and the same is true with homeschooling. Our lesson plans and learning activities may not always unfold exactly as we plan… we might not get to something on the day we intend… we may go weeks without accomplishing certain topics or activities that we had hoped to cover. Life has a way of getting in the way of our plans and I’m constantly trying to be ok with that.
There is a reality of not “getting it all done” that feels like a common theme in motherhood. It can be frustrating but also awesome at the same time- sometimes not accomplishing everything leads to the spontaneous adventures that make the best impressions. Life can be a beautiful, chaotic mess and when we embrace that fact, we make the real memories that are what we and our children will someday recall.
I am so thankful that I have the chance to homeschool my children and to be part of their learning adventures. I know that when I doubt myself and need a boost of confidence to keep going, I have the encouragement and support of a husband who believes in me, friends who share my values and goals and my amazing little humans who think I’m a great mom no matter what. –Sara Sites