"How do you do it?" I think that's the question I'm most often asked when people learn I homeschool our 8 children. I don't know, really. Many days I'm just surviving, and that's the truth. Grace. God's grace upon our days. Really. But isn't that how anyone does anything difficult?
My husband's best friend and my best friend's husband. They have 8, too.
Last month I worked through Simple Mom's Goal-Setting Questions for 2011 and was hit by this question in particular:
5. Do you enjoy your job or jobs (include being a stay-at-home mother, if this pertains to you)? If so, what are your favorite things about your work? If not, what are some ways you can change this?
No. I don't always enjoy these jobs. (Stay-at-home mother? Funny, inaccurate term. I prefer homemaker- am I the only one?) I don't think there's a person alive who loves every aspect of their job or jobs; nothing's perfect.
But for me, right now, the hardest thing is the split between homemaking and homeschooling. I would love to focus on just one, so I am working hard this year on simplifying school. Because I've been homeschooling for 14 years and will graduate our firstborn next month, the schooling is the part of the job that is getting old. I would adore being able to focus on feeding people, keeping our house organized and comfortable, cooking and baking, gardening, schedule management, and young hearts.
Or maybe not.
Sometimes I wish all I had to manage was the academics. This year our oldest (the one about to graduate high school) has earned himself 46 college units and so my hand has been nearly entirely off his schoolwork. But I am still juggling biology, Spanish, modern history, 20th Century literature, Latin, writing, junior high chemistry, Greek, piano, handwriting, math, memory work... I dream of ignoring the household stuff and just teaching.
I could easily slip into discontent. I too often slip into overwhelmed. When I get this way, I feel my heart beating faster and my breath coming in short gasps. I have to tell myself to breathe. I pray. And then I know (because I've been here so often) it's time to simplify.
I'm looking for curriculum that is not reliant on me. I'm going to teach history in a hands-on manner next year because I love teaching history. But the rest? I'm moving to Switched on Schoolhouse for the subjects I'd rather be overseen by the computer. Teaching Textbooks has been a Godsend.
I prefer to read aloud to my kids, play all genres of music and expose them to beautiful art, scenery, and experiences. Where I find joy, we'll go. Where I meet drudgery, frustration, and feel myself being spread too thin, I'll find alternatives and seek help.
It's just time to simplify.