This morning I woke up late and felt like staying in bed a little longer. This has been the strangest week in the history of Texas. Ryan stayed home because it was snowing, insert head exploding emoji. I was so excited I woke up at 3am to watch it snow on Monday morning. I opened up all the windows before the girls woke up so they could see the blanket of white surrounding the entire house. As exciting and monumental the entire week was it was also draining and exhausting. We were so blessed to have only lost electricity for a few hours. There were so many around us that lost power for days and did not have running water. It is Friday and my family a few hours north of us just got their water back after being without for days. The stories of children dying in fires, people that are hungry and freezing have been so heartbreaking. The thought of being helpless while so many people are suffering has been draining. Being stuck inside while it poured freezing rain has been draining. Trying to focus on homeschool while the world outside seems in chaos is draining. Yesterday we took a day to jusr bake everything. The girls practiced their cutting skills, we tried a new zucchini bread recipe, baked cookies and I went artistic on our chicken pot pie.
Today I walked into the kitchen to the table set, breakfast prepared, and to Norah finishing her egg. It has been the perfect Friday to end a crazy week. Looking back on where we started with homeschool, I could never have imagined we would get to this point. For one, I didn’t think our family of four would grow into what will be a family of six in a few short months. Two, I thought I needed to have this perfect homeschool life, a rigid schedule and so many supplies. And third, I didn’t realize that the biggest thing I needed to change was myself.
Before I had children I always wanted a big family, six kids actually. The more I talked about a large family, the more the people around me told me I was crazy, children are expensive. So I thought I needed to change dreams but I really just needed to change the people who I surrounded myself with. I found a homeschool community, a greater passion for my faith and it lead me to realize that my dream of more children was still something I wanted. I remember telling Ryan a few years ago before our youngest was born that I didn’t think I was finished having children. At the time my husband was involved in many ministries at church. I may have volunteered him for most of them. His attitude about growing our family was at first surprised but then thoughtful and supportive. His growing faith made him realize that God would give us what we needed. After I was pregnant, Ryan started classes to convert to our faith. My biggest reason for wanting to educate my children at home was to be their biggest influence in our Catholic faith. I needed more influences too. I am blessed to have found some amazing women, homeschoolers, friends that have taught me to give myself grace and to celebrate the small victories. I use to cry when things didn’t work out how I imagined. My frustrations just lead me to doubt myself. Thank God for an amazing husband that believes I can do anything.
The more I immersed myself in the homeschool culture, I realized that everyone’s homeschool looks so different. Some people don’t buy a single workbook and printout free worksheets online. Others buy full curriculums. Some parents use video teaching aids along with reading books about subjects rather than workbooks. I posed a question one day with my homeschool moms: What are you the best at when it comes to homeschooling? All the answers were different and it was so inspiring because we always look at what we are bad at and try to change it, but hardly ever focus on what we are good at. A friend of mine said that she and her children enjoyed painting together and reading allowed. Another friend said that she was great at historical facts. I was almost embarrassed to say that I enjoyed being outside with my children. Our love for the great outdoors has been our strength during our homeschool journey. We take lessons outside, we have conversations during our walk through the woods. We read stories and discuss the morals and lessons we learned. We work side by side and being their example has been my greatest challenge and proudest moments as a parent. I haven’t always been the best example and I still lose my patience and throw a tantrum from time to time. But I give myself grace, celebrate the wins and keep learning from my mistakes. We all do. Today I’m celebrating the fact that my girls have learned that our family is a team and we work together and learn together and love each other through it all.
When we moved to the town where we currently live, I immersed myself in our church community. I knew that if I wanted to be my children’s biggest example of faith, I needed to grow in my faith and find a community to help me. I also started reading books on homeschooling and self improvement. One daughter gets very frustrated while trying to read, she has great days and not so great ones. Her attitude turns sour when I challenge her more. I realized that she gets this personality trait from me. Before, I would get fed up and return the same frustrated attitude. Now when she gets frustrated I suggest she takes a break and we will pick it up later. She will sometimes say ok, or she will get angry and storm away. It is hard to remain calm during her tantrums but I am the adult and the example. Instead of getting angry I enforce a punishment or tell her to go lay in her bed to calm down. I also give myself moments away to calm down. The past few years I have worked on being more organized and giving my children the tools they need to feel accomplished and be successful.
Homeschool is not just a chore to check off, although sometimes we do have have checklists to make sure we covered things throughout the day. Becoming the educator for your child is a lifestyle change. It involves creating a place of learning, sparking curiosity and encouraging questions. It involves learning from others, your peers, your spouse and even your children. Even more it involves your attitude toward everyday situations. It is not just a run to the grocery store, it is a field trip where we learn parking lot safely, how to choose freshness of items, learning how things are organized and math. Sometimes I have the girls write our the grocery list to practice handwriting and reading. Sometimes I get them to help choose our weekly dinner menu. Sometimes I let them add groceries to our curbside pickup list from my phone. Life skills are just as important as history and language arts. I use to think that “I could never be a homeschool mom,” and I was right. There is no way that I can do anything or expect my children to do anything when I start with a self defeating statement like that.