As I looked at the calendar the other day, I could hardly believe that Christmas is almost here. There goes the first part of the year in a flash. It is that time of year when homeschooling parents look at what has been accomplished compared to their plans and reality sets in. No one ever told us that the wonderful ideas that our brain could come up with for a new year of school would exceed the practicality of real life! If you find yourself feeling depressed about your progress so far this year, stop. Do not beat yourself up, but take a moment and read on for a little bit of advice and encouragement.
Take a breath! As homeschooling parents, we set the bar very high because we are working with our own children. Our very own flesh and blood. Therefore, we have the best of intentions as well as high hopes for these children that are so dear to us. Why would we not want the best for them? They are the focus of our lives at this point in time. We are connected to them in a way that no one else will ever be. They are our children.
I look back to the summer and I am thankful I had a moment to reflect on my life. We took a family camping trip to the ocean in Oregon. If you ever get a chance, take a trip to Fort Stevens State Park on the north western tip of Oregon. There are many educational opportunities in the area to satisfy the homeschooling parent in you (you know it is there – do not deny it). There is Fort Clatsop where Lewis and Clark stayed, the Peter Iredale shipwreck on the Oregon Coast, the Haystack rock that runs out into the ocean, and the ocean itself.
During the trip we spent one day on the ocean sitting, watching the waves roll in and the children played in the surf. It is there that I reflected on my life and my homeschooling adventure with my children. When I started this journey, I never imagined being where I am today. I think that I originally believed that we would turn out two children that were duplicate copies of my wife and me. Thank goodness that did not happen! Where would the creativity be, the originality of a different human being? Not to say that I probably would not get along with someone identical to myself! I believe I was shooting for someone who enjoyed life, who wanted to go out into the world with a set of values and take it on. Someone who could stand up on their own and create a life that was wonderful. The part I had forgotten is that I was still trying to do that myself.
It is true that we want the best for our children. The real question is: do we know what that is going to look like when it gets here? We have to be open to the idea of things turning out differently in our lives than the way we planned them. That is not necessarily a bad deal. Sometimes what we planned is not the best reality. Most of all, we have to be open to the idea that our children are entirely different people than we are and will most likely turn out differently than we expect. Remember, that is not necessarily bad. You started this journey for the sake of your children. There have been days, or years, of time you have put into their education, their moral values, their character. This has not gone into thin air. It has become the building blocks of who they are and what they will become.
So where does that bring me to? It brings me to the realization that no matter who my children turn out to be, whatever kind of person each of them becomes, I will always love them! And on top of that (to my surprise!), they will always love me! As I go through the Christmas holiday routines, there are my children. Smiling and enjoying life with me. They have turned into the type of people I had truly hoped for from the beginning. No, they are not duplicates of me. They are not even close to what I pictured. But, they are loving and caring people, who enjoy living and learning and going out into the world to build a life for themselves. My advice to you? Do not worry about how far you made it in school this year, but instead think back and remember all the times you had together. The times you laughed with each other, and the times you grumbled at each other. This is your life and you are doing a great job with your children – no matter what you think! Pick up the pieces and continue on. Oh, and do not forget to tell your children that you love them. They never get tired of that!
Homeschooling Dad and HSA Executive Board President