Tuesday, August 16, 2011

This is not a manifesto.

When I tell people I'm homeschooling--good friends, acquaintances, strangers--the responses I get make me feel like what I've really just said is: "Please tell me right now everything you think I'm doing wrong as a mother and how I am failing my children."

Okay. I'm totally exaggerating. But it is true that the simple phrase, "We are actually homeschooling," turns out to be a lot more controversial than I thought. It's like I'm asking for opinions. skepticism. stares that say, "are you INSANE, woman?"

In response, inside, I am wincing. And saying, "Yes. I am. Totally nuts."

The daily tasks of motherhood are already overwhelming enough (anybody want to come help fold my laundry pile?) without adding the daunting burden of an academic education. I am not one of those mothers who has a sparkling sink, shining floors, and a cobweb free ceiling who is looking at homeschooling as a challenge to tackle because she has everything else mastered. (Anyone who is ridiculous enough to think that I approach decent housekeeping should note that I am currently sitting in a study nook which is littered with an extension cord, Claire's Sunday shoes, a 2.5 lb. dumbbell weight, a play shopping cart, and a dead basil plant.)

I am also not a social recluse who hoards family time and avoids sending my children to friends' homes because I can't stand being away from them. As it is, I spend about one hour of my day hiding from them, trying to finish my book club read. (Ooh. Book Club. That sounds so social and not-nerdy. Did I just hurt my case?)

And I am not convinced that public schools are the devil and that children who attend them will be morally corrupt and poorly educated.

But. I believe in homeschooling. For my family. Under the right circumstances.

I don't know how long we'll do it or even exactly why (!) we are. But in the two weeks that we have been, I have been learning a lot more than Grace has. I've been learning lessons that I think God has been trying to teach me for decades. Like how to say "no" to people who require my time and attention. And how to avoid being so controlling. And how to stop being afraid of failure. And how to make big decisions without needing the approval of everyone around me.

What I'm trying to say (but am afraid to for the risk of sounding prescriptive or self-righteous, so please read this with the understanding that this next part applies uniquely to me--it's all about ME) is I think homeschooling has the potential to turn me into the kind of mom I want to be. A mom who has her priorities straight. And that is worth a lot of craziness, I think.


  1. try telling people you are planning a homebirth. mean folks love to throw the dead baby card around on that one.

    Or after you say 'Yes all five are mine' and they say 'are you done?' and you say "I hope not" and they roll their eyes.

    You be exactly the kind of mom you want to be - that's why your kids picked you in the pre-existence.

    who cares about what other people say.

    even though it stings in the moment.

  2. I love you. And I love this post. And I love that you're doing a brave thing that not everyone agrees with.

    I wish you lived here. There are some pretty rad homeschoolers around these parts. In fact, if you want long distance friends, I can totally hook you up. Have you found lots of good blogs by homeschooling moms? What about Angry Chicken (http://angrychicken.typepad.com/angry_chicken/) or On Hand Modern (http://onhandmodern.typepad.com/my_weblog/)? And here's the woman in my ward who's pretty incredible and you may want to be friends with: http://chazandginger.blogspot.com/.Just saying, you're so not alone. Remarkable, incredible people homeschool their kids, and turn out some remarkable, incredible kids. If your heart feels directed there, follow it and enjoy.

  3. You might enjoy this post that I just read yesterday by Tsh at Simple Mom. Know you're not alone and that I applaud you for doing what's best for you and your family! http://simplemom.net/the-one-right-way-to-educat-your-children/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+simplemom+%28Simple+Mom%29

  4. Ha good luck!! It will absolutely drive you insane trying to organize and get everything situated the first few months...but you will love every minute of it!! :) I don't regret my parents homeschooling us kids at all!! I loved it! Along with what Deja posted, i know i posted this blog before, but this is my older sister...9 kids, and has homeschooled all of them!! Good luck!! You will have an amazing time.


  5. I'm glad you are forging this road ahead of me so you can teach me the ways when I get there...love you and your awesomeness!!!

  6. Elise,
    I wish you knew how much I love your blog. I think you are so brave and so smart for pursuing what you really believe is best for you and your family! More power to you! I can't wait to follow along with your adventure :)

  7. Ooooo, exciting! One great thing about living here in the Bible Belt is that here there are so many homeschoolers that nobody even blinks an eye when you say you're doing it. Kind a disappointing for me. Just know you are not alone, there are lots and lots and LOTS of us! I also 100% agree that homeschooling will help us become the kind of moms we want to be. Also, I can't wait to hear what you are doing with your girls! Share, share!

  8. As a fellow first-year homeschool mother, I say bravo and thank you. This post rings so true to me.

  9. I have sooooo been down that road; different paths, same results. During those conversations, I just smile and think "it's okay, you don't KNOW what I know. And BECAUSE of what I know...this is RIGHT. For ME." Amen.

  10. Oh man, I totally agree with Janie - I get the same thing whenever it comes up that I had a baby in a bathtub filled with water a few miles from the nearest hospital with no doctor in sight. People immediately jump to all kinds of conclusions about me, start talking defensively, and throw around the craziest stories they've heard (even though they don't know any details surrounding those stories...). I totally sympathize.

    Christopher and I had a good loooooong talk about homeschool a couple of nights ago. There's a new school being built that we're zoned for and I'm considering seeing if they'll strike a bargain with me (while they're all new and, presumably, open-minded) - my kids come to p.e. and music class, while I take on math/science/literature/etc... We'll see!

    Good luck, it sounds like this is a journey and if you are feeling peace with it, then go with it!!

  11. Oh, and so fun that Deja linked up Ginny's blog (chazandginger.blogspot.com). Two awesome people (ginny and deja)! Ginny really is one awesome mama and has such a great outlook on homeschooling. I think I even sent you a link to her blog a while back. Anyway, fun little circle!

  12. You have basically read my mind! I empathize with just about every word you said and feel the same. We are about to start the exact same situation you are in. Dylan is a first grader and we'll be homeschooling this year. It is funny, but I totally agree with you that I feel like this will help me be the kind of mom I want to be. Almost like I'm an all or nothing kind of person... anyway, I'ms ure you understand. I SO wish we lived closer so we could talk and console. :-) And play! Anyway, thanks for your thoughts. I totally hear you! Let me know how it continues to go. Hugs to you!