What do you do when you just want to call it quits and send them all to school? *sigh* When it all feels fruitless and frustrating? And your house is a mess? And you fight the same battles over and over and sometimes you just wish they were gone all day? How do you be honest about this struggle without a tongue-lashing from all the homeschool moms who "have it all together"?
Julie, I totally get it. One of the things that I think makes it so tough to "grin and bear it" is the homeschooling community's tendancy to make everything look so shiny and pretty. This is the hardest thing I've ever done in my life. Period. Do I have to polish it all up and pretend everything is smooth?
You've asked several questions in there, and in an attempt to not skirt over the deeper stuff you are asking, I'm going to take them one by one.
First, what to do when I feel like throwing in the towel and sending them all to school... I cry. I vent. I text my homeschooling girlfriends and tell them what a buzzkill this is (my friend Caroline texted that to me once and now we send each other "Homeschooling is such a buzzkill!" messages every now and again :D). I lay my head on my husband's shoulder and tell him how hard this is. I pray. I go to bed early, and hope I get up the next morning with a better attitude and a renewed vision.
Those are small things, but they can help. So can chocolate. At the root, though, I have to ask myself why we are doing what we're doing. If I can be reminded of our original vision, it helps.
But more importantly, and arching over all the little things that might help in the moment, is the realization that I am accepted. Loved. ♥ I have a value, a purpose, a worth, and an identity in something other than homeschooling, my children, my marriage, and my home. This is the Gospel: living in the overflow and abundance of the love of God changes everything, every time.
And so when you ask what to do when it all feels fruitless and frustrating? I go back to the Gospel. Is it fruitless and frustrating because I am bearing a yoke that isn't put there by Christ? Then I'm not living in the overflow and abundance of the love of God.
What about when the house is a mess? Yes, this drives me insane. I can't do clutter. Tonight as I write this I am recovering from some crummy 24-hour bug that overtook me just as my husband and I were driving back into town after being gone for a few days. The house was a mess because we weren't here for two days, and then I've been in bed and cleaning up other people's flu yuck for a day.
As I was starting yet another load of flu towels, I thought, "Tomorrow we'll go room by room and tackle the mess." That's all. A good night's sleep, a plan of attack, and the realization that my identity isn't wrapped up in a clean house. I'm going back to the Gospel.
Fighting the same battles over and over? Yes. Like Paul, who said, "I always do what I don't want to do and don't do what I want to do". Selah. I like Paul. He didn't feel the need to make things shiny and polished because he understood what it was to live in the overflow and abundance of God's grace. He understood the Gospel.
If the battles are mine, I lay them at the foot of the cross. I remember where my identity lies (in Christ's finished work, not mine). And I move forward.
If the battles are my children's, well then we take them one battle at a time, filling in the cracks with as much laughter and light and fun and GRACE as possible. But only because of (guess what I'm going to say?) the Gospel.
As for all the homeschooling moms who have it "all together"? Well, I don't bother to share my struggles with them. I choose friends who also know the utter freedom and joy of living in the overflow and abundance of God's grace, mercy, and love, and we'll continue to text each other funny little truths, vents, and encouragements. I know those girls are praying for me, and I know they know where my identity lies.