I remember walking up to her house and praying for God to guard my heart. I was already intimidated by her perfectly coiffed hair and effortless style. But this, her home, was almost too much. Parked outside her brick two-story one step short of a mansion, my thirteen-year-old Jeep Cherokee looked more fitting for the gardener of her five-acre estate than a guest. We’d met at Homeschool P.E. and had a lot in common. But at that moment on her front porch, all I could see were our differences.
As women, we compare. We can’t help ourselves. The temptation worsens in the homeschool environment. It’s a small community, so our insecurities seem magnified amid the close quarters. Chaos marks the first year (or years) of homeschooling and observing moms who seem to have it all together just compounds feelings of inadequacy. On top of that, each group of homeschoolers has it’s own inside jokes, preferences, and mores.
Tamara, “Homeschooling moms are as varied in personality and beliefs as in all other occupations. I felt like an oddball because I didn’t fit that particular mold, and I had no desire to I might add.”
You’ll feel like an outsider in the beginning. You’ll feel insufficient next veteran moms. But you shouldn’t. God created you as a distinct, unique individual (Eph 2:10). He didn’t call you to homeschool, and then say, “Whoops, she doesn’t bake her own bread. Cancel that.” or “Uh oh, she’s disorganized…”
Remember that mission statement I told you to write a few posts back? Read a passage from an article I wrote for Practical Homeschooling that applies mission statements to this phenomenon:
“In my mind, all of those other moms have morphed into one mega-awesome-perfect paragon of homeschooling. Her children are all accomplished musicians. They finish their curriculum by April, every year. Her house is spotless and overflowing with baked goods. However, my house is always pleasantly rumpled. We are killing ourselves to finish school by summer, and my son’s greatest accomplishment is running around the yard dressed like a ninja. When I compare myself to her, I am found wanting.
Using my mission statement, I’ll do the comparison again. Music is important to Mega Mom’s family, but creativity is important to mine. My son has invented and produced his own card games. Creative thought is also why my house isn’t spotless. I once let my son leave a piece of bread on the kitchen counter for weeks because he wanted to see what would happen.
Academics rank first in Mega Mom’s family, so they strive to complete all of their lesson plans. Godly character is important for my family, so my son serves in the tech ministry at church and volunteers at the local library.
Upon evaluation, it’s clear that one of us is not better than the other. We are just different. To quote homeschool mom-of-three Becky, ‘Those people who you think are accomplishing so much more than you aren’t, they’re just accomplishing different things.’”
So embrace your differences, view them as the assets they are. Take the time to cultivate your own distinct homeschool style, instead of getting distracted by what others are doing. Being comfortable with yourself alleviates stress and turns the focus back onto your children and their education, where it should be.
Being yourself also benefits the homeschool community at large. A pastor friend David Sharp once defined unity not as one note struck on a keyboard but as a chord, many notes played together to create one harmonious sound. Despite outside appearances, homeschooling doesn’t exist in isolation. Whether through co-ops, playgroups, music lessons, field trips, sports teams, or a million other options, your child interacts with other families as part of their education. And that experience is far richer when many notes are played together rather than the same boring sound.
That day on my friend’s porch, God did guard my heart. As I prayed, my fears melted away. She and I remained friends until my family moved three years later. Through our connection, my son attended a youth symphony concert, swam on a team, and visited a hands-on science museum. Had I allowed myself to be intimidated, I would have missed out on friendship and my son would have missed out on some unique, enriching experiences.
Excerpts from the article “What Is Your Mission?” ©2012 Home Life, Inc. Originally published in Practical Homeschooling magazine. Used by permission.