Today’s guest post is by Dr. Marie-Claire Moreau of Quick Start Homeschool.
It was a rainy morning, the third in three days.
And though I dreamt of sipping hot cocoa and playing with the boys in their blanket fort all day, I found myself piling three wriggly uncooperative children into a minivan and heading off to the library instead.
My feelings weren’t because I thought the activity would be unpleasant. Actually, I thought it was going to be epic.
I knew this, because I had organized the class myself. Not only had I made sure it would be taught by the most knowledgeable person in the state, but I had been careful to specifically request live specimens (not those phony plastic models), periods of learning for every different age group, printed take-home activities and web links, and generally a program I could be proud of.
Yet, for some reason, I didn’t want to go. The day was gloomy and the blanket fort was calling. I could just tell my kids weren’t up for another day on the town.
Without getting into ugly details, let me just say my instincts were spot on that day. Indeed staying home would have been the better option.
Because the enormous headache and stained jersey I came home with was eclipsed in much greater proportion by the display my kids put on at the library. And if their antics and attitudes and complete lack of interest and total lack of participation weren’t already enough to reveal what a parenting failure I was, I proceeded to have a mini melt-down myself.
And in that very public setting, I fell into assorted pieces, leading several other moms (plus a small group of complete strangers) to follow me into the restroom and start asking embarrassing questions like: was I alright?; were my kids on medication? (or should they be); and were we all in need of a little psychological help right away?.
Though I still cringe a little (actually, a lot), thinking back at the unrealistic expectations I had set for my young family and the bubble of general naïveté in which I lived at that time, I now see it was one of the many experiences that shaped our family and helped make me a better mom.
It’s hard to live through that stuff, friends. It’s hard to plan everything, do everything, be everything to your children, and keep your self-image intact. Believe me, I know.
That’s why it’s very important to recognize that your homeschooling hard days aren’t really “failures” at all.
In fact, it’s really a good thing they happen.
There were many hard days when my kids were little. There was a time I had 3 wriggly ones all under age 5. You’ve been there, right? It is hard!
But, mammas, you’ll have many more great days over the years, too. Long and satisfying, full and productive, joyful and happy days. Ones that outweigh the hard days by the tens-of-thousands. Days that overshadow every challenge, helping you to forget the silly struggles, the bad decisions and the embarrassing mommy moments you must occasionally endure along the way.
You see, every homeschooling hard day brings along with it a lesson. A hidden message. A nugget of wisdom. Every hideous experience holds something important to be learned.
My lesson that particular day was priceless. Once too quick to over-schedule my kids, and always too quick to over-schedule myself, I learned to tone things down a bit. That day (and several others until I finally got the message) helped me find that I didn’t have to be planning, going or doing something with them every moment of every single day.
Hard days provided many of the lessons that molded me and my kids.
I learned more patience and understanding of their ways and needs than I thought possible, and they in turn learned to trust me.
I learned tolerance and compassion against their innocuous childish offenses and they in turn learned I loved them unconditionally.
I learn to read them, their body language, their signals, and — almost – their little minds, as they in turn learned to read mine.
I got better at recognizing little signs that I was over-stretched, over-tired, over-taxed and over-everything.
And I learned it didn’t matter what we did out there in the big world as long as what we did in our little world was always done together, since that was more important anyway.
In those moments of anxiety and frustration, during those very hard days of almost giving up (i.e., brief thoughts of “the school bus”), I heard quiet words spoken, offering me the lessons I know now. It was only through those hard days that I discovered how to parent the unique children I had been given, and how to be the parent I am today.
Endure those hard days, for they teach many things you need to know.
Be grateful for your hard days, for they help you see just how brilliant your good days really are.
Trust your hard days, for they know just when to begin tapering off in number and fall away altogether, to become subsumed with good days forever more. Hard days will become a thing of the past, wise teachers you may remember, but will probably never see again.