My friend Caroline and I frequent a nearby Starbucks at least once a month. We have had some great heart-to-heart talks, and after nearly six years of friendship, we know each other’s faults and strengths pretty well.
One evening we were talking about the pressure new homeschoolers often feel when they begin to learn about the methods of other homeschooling families. Caroline confessed that she had succumbed to such pressure when she began, and so I asked if she would be willing to write an entry for Preschoolers and Peace. I think she covered it beautifully:
My Last Name is Not Smith
Wow, I don’t think I can do this homeschooling thing. The Smiths teach their kids Latin as part of their curriculum. That means I have to teach my kids Latin. Latin?! Are you kidding me. I don’t know Latin. How am I supposed to teach it to my kids? I will fail. I will fall flat on my face and my poor kids will suffer because their mom can’t do all of this.
The Smith’s house always looks so put together and clean. How do I keep my house sparkling clean? The Smiths take their kids to do volunteer work every week. How will all the laundry get done while I am doing volunteer work with the kids? Did you see Mrs. Smith’s detailed schedule she had hanging on her refrigerator? How can I stick to this schedule that I spent hours coming up with? How will ever do it all just like the Smiths do? Oh wait- my last name is not Smith. My last name is Howard. So why I am I trying to do everything just like they are?
This is how I used to think. I thought that my house and my school had to look just like everyone else’s did or I was failing. I thought I had to live my day by one of those calendars that had everything all scheduled out so nicely. I even really did think I had to teach my kids Latin. I had myself so worked up for failure that I had a nervous breakdown. I went to my husband and told him all that I was feeling and how I just couldn’t do this homeschooling thing and we should put our kids into the system. Do you know what his response was? He laughed! Yep, he laughed. He told me that he never expected me to teach our kids Latin. That was not how the Howards were going to do it. Yes, it is fine and dandy for others to that because that is how they want to do it. But that did not mean that we had to do it that way.
I can’t even begin to tell you what a huge burden I felt come off my shoulders when he told me this. Then, of course, I had to laugh at myself. Why was I trying to be like everyone else? God did not make me like everyone else. He made me different with my own unique traits. He did not make me to be a scheduled person. I hate schedules. They drag me down and I end up getting less done when I try to stay on one so I threw all my schedules out. I had wasted so much time making all those schedules. That was precious time I threw away trying to be someone I was not.
We spend so much time looking at how everyone else is doing it and thinking that we want to be just like they are that we miss out on what God really wants us to be like. I had a friend say that she wished she did more fun and crazy things with her kids just like so and so did. But that’s not her. That’s not me either. And you know what? That’s OK. It doesn’t mean you are a bad mom because you don’t take your kids to the ice cream parlor on a whim. They will not think any of less you. Trust me. We all have our own unique traits. A specialness that God put in us just for us to use. We need to focus on that and not on all of the things that He did not give us. Because when we focus on that we are really telling God that we think He messed up because he did not make us like he made Mrs. Smith. Oh and yes, she does make great pies, but who cares! My point here is that you will never be content with your life if you are always trying to keep up with the Smiths (I know some people with the last name Jones, so that is why I went with Smith here). Your main focus should be “what does God see fit for the_______ (insert your last name) family?” Once you figure that out you will find peace in your days and contentment in your life.
So, no I will not be teaching my kids Latin and I will not be running our day by a schedule and my house will not be cleaned on a regular basis and no I don’t have a specified laundry day, but I am Howard and that is how we do it at the Howard house.