“Bye Mommy! See you later!” And he turned toward the playdough and started smooshing. I smiled at him and smiled at his teacher and walked out the door. A few tears gathered in my eyes as I walked to the car.
About noon that same day I walked into my son’s preschool classroom to pick him up from his first day. His teacher dismissed him and he ran into my arms, screaming Mummy! I kneltdown and hugged him and he said the most beautiful words - “I had so much fun!!” As I squeezed his little body, tears threatened to spill over onto my cheeks. Joy and relief flooded my body.
This morning, when we first walked into his classroom, one of his teachers greeted him and said “Timothy, I’m so happy to see you! I’ve been praying for you this morning!” This is the first child that we’ve sent to preschool since we started homeschooling 7 years ago. Making the decision to send him to preschool was not taken lightly. Leaving my son in the care of another person that I know is praying for him is a balm to my tattered mommy heart.
Why would a homeschool blogger send one of her kids to preschool? Not only am I a homeschool blogger, but our blog is called Preschoolers And Peace, with a tagline that says “Homeschooling with littles under foot? YOU CAN DO THIS.” No, the irony is not lost on me.
This is another of those times that I will bare a little bit more of my soul to you, our readers, because I want to be sure that everyone knows what is deep on my heart – God’s plan for my family might look different than His plan for your family. Please be gracious as you read and be quick to listen and slow to speak.
Our son, Timothy, as you might remember, was born prematurely at 25 weeks gestation. He had a long journey in the NICU. He is almost four years old now and has overcome so many challenges. We are so incredibly thankful for the progress that he’s made, overcoming so many developmental delays. But I’m not going to sugar coat things either. He’s a lot of work. His behavioral issues are starting to take more and more of my time and they seem to be getting worse. I was feeling so defeated because none of my usual tricks were working and my school age children were getting the raw end of the deal.
A few weeks ago, after I was crying in my husband's arms on the side of the freeway, I was talking to my husband and said that something needed to change. I didn’t believe that putting our school age kids into a public or charter school was the answer. I brought up the idea of preschool and neither of us were opposed to the idea.
A few days later, Timothy spent several hours with another family so that I could kinda relax. That was very revealing to me because, after I dropped him off, the van was peaceful. And it was peaceful all day, despite having the van break down in another city and dealing with that on my own with three of the other kids! The minute we picked him up later that afternoon, the chaos returned.
It was at that moment that I realized it was Timothy bringing the chaos. I am in no way saying it’s his fault. I don't believe that he is intentionally wreaking havoc on our family. I believe that there is something happening neurologically in his little brain and we are seeking help to figure out what that is. But I knew that for my own mental well-being we needed to explore options for Timothy.
Through a number of God-ordained serendipitous moments we decided to enroll him a local, Christian preschool where he attends three mornings a week. His teachers love Jesus and they are teaching the children to love Jesus, too. During those three hours each Monday, Wednesday, and Friday that he is in preschool I am able to focus more on my school-age children and also on my little 2 year old, who has become my shadow. I no longer feel like I am fighting fires all the live long day. I don't feel like I'm walking on eggshells all day long, wondering when Timothy is going to explode again. Those nine hours a week have given my brain space to rest. And it makes me a better parent.
So, that's why I'm not homeschooling my preschooler. Did I feel guilt when I first enrolled him? Yes. I should be able to do it all, right? Uh, yeah, no. It took me being very honest with myself and my husband about the fragile state of me so that we could make the best decision for our family. I had to remind myself that homeschooling does not save our children and that there is no magic formula.
Our God is so big. He is bigger than homeschooling and bigger than public school and bigger than all educational options. Pray. Seek God's plan for your family. And give yourself grace if the plan ends up changing. We are not defined by our educational choices. Amen and amen.