I was sitting around this weekend, wracking my brain about what to share with you today. I was supposed to be publishing the Homeschool Showcase, but due to low entries, I postponed it (more news on that coming soon) and no wonderfully enlightening and inspiring replacement ideas were coming to me.
Then, this faint memory from our early days of homeschooling came to my mind. It’s really just a little story and I don’t remember all the details very well, but I couldn’t get it out of my head. That probably means that somebody needs to hear it today.
This had to have happened within our first two or three years of homeschooling because it was before Josh and Megan started music class. It was back when a handful of friends and I were meeting for Bible study once a week. The kids and I had stopped at Chick-Fil-A on the way home from Bible study. Yeah, I know that part is hard to believe.
So, there we were at Chick-Fil-A. We had a couple of kids’ meal bags on the table and I was doing some of the activities on the bag with the kids or asking them questions about it or something. I can’t remember if the kids had wandered off of to play or if they were still sitting there with me when another mom nearby – a new homeschool mom, as it turned out – said to me something to the effect of, “You’re so much better than me. I just threw the bag away and let my kids go play.”
I can’t even remember what I replied. I do know that I gave the mom my email address and she soon became part of our homeschool group. Her son wound up taking music class with Josh and she is still successfully homeschooling her amazing kids who run their own business raising chickens and selling the eggs.
It was a simple interaction, but I think there are some important lessons to take away from it.
First, homeschool moms, don’t compare yourself to the homeschool moms around you. For one thing, maybe God hasn’t called your family to the same thing He’s called another mom’s. Your family, your children, and the way they’re educated are going to look different. Trust Him. We’re not all cookie cutter images of each other.
Not only that, but there is a distinct possibility that you’re not seeing the whole picture. That day at Chick-Fil-A? Maybe I was feeling guilty because I’d spent too much time talking at Bible study and my kids hadn’t gotten much school done. Maybe one of my kids asked me to do the activities with them or help them read the bag. I honestly don’t remember.
What I do know, regardless of how poor my memory is, is that me doing the kids’ meal bag activities with my kids and this other mom tossing her bag in the trash did not – and does not – equate to I’m an amazing homeschool mom and she’s a lousy one.
Second, don’t turn everything into school. Maybe my kids didn’t want to read the kids’ meal bag or play the games on it. Maybe they wanted me to throw it away and let them eat their lunch so they could go play. Maybe, if we were playing the comparison game, the other mom was the better homeschool mom because she was just enjoying lunch out with her kids without turning it into a teachable moment.
It’s hard to resist those teachable moment urges and giving into them isn’t necessarily bad, but it’s good to remember that we’re Mom first, teacher second.
Finally, veteran homeschooling moms, let the new homeschooling moms know they’re doing okay. I probably wasn’t too many years ahead of this mom – her oldest and my middle are the same age – but I wasn’t a complete newbie either. Maybe I said something encouraging – I don’t remember – but if I didn’t, I should have.
When someone says something to the effect of, “You’re so much better than me because…” that translates to, “I am feeling painfully inadequate right now.” Encourage them.
“But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called ‘Today,’ so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness.” – Hebrews 3:13.
And, lest you think I’m asking you to gloss everything over – because sometimes when we’re feeling inadequate, it’s because there is an area of struggle looming in front of us – sometimes encouragement is listening and offering words of wisdom or suggestions of curriculum or resources that have helped a struggling learner.
Sometimes it’s inviting a mom to a support group meeting. Sometimes it’s as simple as paying a mom a sincere compliment that she really needs to hear because kids tend to be nearly grown before they realize that moms really appreciate having their efforts noticed from time to time. Those day in the trenches can be hard.
Sometimes, it means stepping out of your comfort zone and asking her if you can pray with her.
So, homeschool moms (and dads), let’s quit comparing and start encouraging. And, let’s let our kids enjoy their lunches. And, you know, Eat More Chickin drink more sweet tea. (Us, not them. They’ll be running laps around the dining room table if you let them have all that sugar.)
Can you remember a time when another mom encouraged you in a really meaningful way?