October 16th, 2013

We’re all blind

Well, I’ve been reading homeschooling articles again. Homeschool Blindspots by Reb Bradley was a recent one that made me think, and bookmark, and then go back and read again. Mostly because it made me uncomfortable. Which could be a good thing. We all need to be challenged sometimes.

But then, I am not sure I can take any more challenging right now. I’m pretty tired.

I’m tired of being second-guessed and being encouraged to second-guess myself. I’m tired of feeling defensive of the fact that we homeschool because of the assumptions other people — even the homeschoolers — make about us based on that label alone. And though it’s been years since I was young and arrogant enough to believe I had this parenting thing all figured out, I am tired of being warned about all the ways that, despite my good intentions and exhaustive efforts, I am very likely failing.

Nobody ever sold me homeschooling as a panacea for worldly temptations and sin. From almost the very beginning — no, scratch that, truly from the very beginning — I have seen its flaws and weaknesses and shortcomings all too clearly. They haunted me. They still do.

I am tired of the “Ah-Ha’s” and the “See, I told you so’s” I hear from all corners of the internet, and even in my own head sometimes, when the inevitable happens and older kids from even those “very good homeschooling families” fall into sin, or reject their parents’ values, or mess up and rebel in typical teenager-ish ways.

But mostly, I am just tired. Tired from late nights and early mornings. Tired from the mash-up of draining demands of big kids and little kids and middle kids times eight, with a home, marriage, and job thrown in for good measure.

So tired that I tear up when I read Bradley’s description of how he and his wife regret putting discipline and outward appearances before love in their own family, despite the fact that I know these failures have little to do with homeschooling. The blind spots described here are not homeschooling blind spots; they’re human ones. We’re all blind. We all judge when we shouldn’t, make selfish and prideful decisions, fall down in our faith, and fail at love.

We all get tired.

But God doesn’t throw our children into our arms and tell us, “Hey, good luck with these! You’re all they’ve got!”

We are not all they’ve got. Thank you God for that.

Tonight, after re-reading about blind spots, I made my tired way into the kitchen where I found a greasy mess from dinner that moved me almost as close to tears as the blind spots did. I grabbed a sponge and began scrubbing the stovetop. While I scrubbed, my oldest returned home from an evening out with friends and filled my ears with cheerful descriptions of the events of her day.

Tired or not, in that moment there, I had strength enough to clean a stovetop, one greasy spot at a time, and give attention to my happy daughter.

I don’t have enough love for a lifetime. Not even close. God doesn’t give me all the grace I need for a great big lifetime in this great big family all at once. He knows I would waste it. He gives me love enough, and grace enough, for right here, right now, one greasy little spot at a time.

I’m tired, but I am filled.

12 comments to We’re all blind

  • Anne

    I sort of skimmed through that article when a friend posted it and I had a similar reaction to yours.

    It’s so nice to see a post here from you. And edifying too. Prayers for you!!!!

  • From one tired homeschooling mom to another…Amen!

  • Mary B

    I think about this often and see it in the inner city school I’m at. Teachers here struggle to hang on to grace for 1 more block, for one more kid. And that’s all the grace we get. It’s enough. It has to be. Homeschooling wasn’t a panacea and ending homeschooling wasn’t either. Those are just the places God led us for our kids or ourselves. We can be here for each other though.
    Miss you.

  • Denise R

    Amen, as I yawn through my second cup of coffee. Well said.

  • Just what I needed to read this morning as I try to get into a routine with this whole homeschooling high school thing. In fact, I just began reading a new book about it last night. So glad for your words this morning. This gives me a renewed sense of hope. : )

  • Tanya

    I felt similarly when I read that article. I had to actually stop and think, “what is it exactly I feel?” I actually felt a bit of anger b/c I felt like even though he was seemingly coming from a humble and helpful place, it still felt like he was saying, “no matter what you do, they’ll turn away and leave the house and not talk to you…” blah, blah, blah. After re-thinking and re-reading the article I was offended that he lumped homeschooling into the mix. IMO, everything he and his wife did had nothing to do with homeschooling itself. They were overbearing parents with unrealistic expectations for their kids. I’m constantly reminding myself that my children are gifts from God and they are unique creations of God Himself. I think being Catholic helps me remember that. I tell the kids (and myself) that as long as they stay close to God and the Sacraments, He will lead them where He wants them to be. Granted, that doesn’t mean they’ll never encounter periods of doubt or perhaps even turn away for a time, but I will never parent the way these people did. And the fact that we homeschool as nothing to do with that.

  • Beautiful, Danielle.
    And I agree with you, Tanya, that the Bradley article is more about a parenting style than about homeschooling.
    We all have our own blindness and fatigue, but everything comes back to grace, and trusting Him one day at a time.

  • Katie

    Yes, the Bradley article is more about a parenting style than homeschooling itself, but, in my experience, this parenting style is more prevalent in homeschooling parents than in those who don’t. In general, homeschooling isn’t a stand alone choice – it’s part of the parenting values, style, etc. Culture if you will. And of my experience with homeschooling families (my best friend growing up, my neighbors growing up, students I taught who were previously homeschooled, and now current 6 – 12th graders in youth ministry who are homeschooled) these issues are very prevalent.

  • PamL

    Thanks, Danielle. I haven’t read the article yet, but I think it is very common for all of us to doubt ourselves, especially when it comes to homeschooling. The tiredness that you describe is taking over my life–this is only our second year homeschooling, but I didn’t feel it before this year. It is exhausting. Hang in there–we are all doing the best we can- with a lot of help from God and the grace He sees fit to bestow on us!

  • PamL

    I love this quote. “Sheltering is a critical part of parenting, but if parents keep it their primary focus, the children will grow up ill equipped to handle the temptations in the world.”

    I remember years ago a mom with older children told me that just because we are doing all these things to train our children what is right and what is wrong, doesn’t mean that they won’t be tempted. She explained that it is imperative to tell our children that you WILL be tempted to sin. It is how they respond when when temptations happen that matters–not whether or not you were tempted. Sometimes I think we tend to think that our children will always respond to temptations appropriately, but do we even do that? Absolutely not! How can we expect them to? They are as human as we are and have less experience to relate to regarding what to do in times of temptations.

    God bless you all and your families!

  • God bless you and your family.

    Lots of work. Lots of struggle. Lots of happiness, pain, and joy.

    And He is with us, in all of it.

    Thank you.

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