I have homeschooled my four kids for the past four years. And this year, I ate my humble pie, called it quits, and registered my kids for school. And the truth is, it was one of the most liberating decisions I’ve made.
Looking back, I realize I fell in love with homeschooling the way I fell in love with my first boyfriend. I fell in love with the package, but not the product. The philosophy of home education was brilliant in my mind. We wanted more for our kids than they would receive in school. Bilingualism. Free play. Extra-curricular activities that didn’t suck precious little time together. Our kids would be set up academically to be world movers. Who doesn’t want that for their kids? I fell in love with homeschooling like I fell in love with love itself. And then I endured four years of tumultuous relationship.
Picture a young mother with her small, devoted children, sitting around the kitchen table with books open wide, feasting together on the delectable knowledge spread out before them. She smiles at her brood, and then… no, that’s not what happened. Ever. Picture instead one child starting the day with a revolution. And then picture a second child embracing each learning activity with the enthusiasm of a sloth. And then add two other children adding the volume and energy of two additional human beings to the already ensuing chaos. Every day. And then imagine their mother, putting out one fire, lighting another, calming, correcting and corralling her gaggle of kids through reading, writing and arithmetic.
Did I mention I have a very limited amount of energy? I do! And the reality of this finally sunk in. I was in love with the idea of homeschooling, but not with what it actually was. I had enough energy every day to do the very minimum. We were getting by. We were doggy-paddling. It finally hit me:
If I were a different person, and if my children were different people, homeschooling would definitely be amazing.
And so I quit. I quit trying to be someone I wasn’t. I quit trying to expect my kids to change their temperaments. I embraced who we were, and I sent them off to school. School, where our days will be filled to overflowing, our moments together short, and I will focus on being my children’s mother, trusting in an amazing team of teachers to focus on their education.