........you know, the homeschooler whose table is messy with map drawing projects and opened tubes of paint.
........the one whose children rattle off the states and capitals like it's nobody's business and then proceed to name the continents and countries of the world.
........or how about elaborate science projects?
........self taught pieces of music?
........nature study walks and sketch books filled with drawings of butterflies and plants?
Instead i sit with my head in my hands wondering why my dreams so often don't line up with reality. I stare at Instagram pictures of mothers and children doing all those things that i think make up the perfect homeschool and wonder with a sinking feeling if they are ever anything but creative. My days are too short and my list of things to do endless and i would really rather eat chocolate. Which explains a lot when i look in the mirror.
I don't know how to draw, i hate bugs and nature walks and science is something that my children do in textbooks.
Does this make me a failure? Why do we homeschool? Will my children hate me someday for not putting them in a brick and mortar school with classrooms and without annoying siblings?
I take a deep breath and look around. What exactly are my children doing if they aren't painting maps and taking nature walks?
Today one of them headed into a certain store to buy a very special birthday present for a very special person, with everyone pooling their hard earned money together.
Another is helping out a sister from church who is busy with a large family of littles. She's learning to serve by cleaning bathrooms and washing floors and because she's been doing that all her life she's quite good at it. From there she is going with friends to buy supplies and decorations to host a baby shower.
Yet another is outside entertaining his brothers, and making sure they have fun on a city street with safety.
And one son is cleaning up a horribly dirty kitchen, loading dishwasher, mopping floors and playing peek a boo with baby. He also rocked his two year old brother back to sleep when he woke up from his nap scared.
Three times in the last week the older ones took care of the younger ones so their father and i could be involved in Kingdom work. They did it cheerfully and with competence. And somewhere in there we did "school." Textbook school with paper and pencils. We did read aloud time where i read and they drew or colored, even the older ones because time spent together is the best. Later this week they will help get ready for a Bible Study with our Muslim neighbor and then they will clean up after supper and listen to the difference between Islam and Christianity and they will pray that he will find truth.
They will get into arguments with each other and then they will apologize. They will clean bathrooms and they will make idiots out of themselves to convince Charles to giggle. Because nothing is as cute as a baby with fat cheeks that shake with joy.
I will push back feelings of inadequacy and i will cry out to Jesus to show me how to do this. I'm still needing Him to show me how to do this homeschooling thing. every. single. day. Each year is different and this year is insanely crazy with 8 children doing school in one form or another. A baby and toddler add to the insanity but they also add to the love. Because at the end of the day, we're family. We're each other's favorite people ever and school is about far more than textbooks or nature walks. It's about teaching each other how to serve and to love through the good and the bad. It's about me laying down my feelings of fear and inadequacy and pushing through, even when i'm convinced that i don't have what it takes.
I want to learn how to do school better with my children. I want to gain advice from other mama's and i want to be stretched and challenged. I want our children to yearn for learning and truth and i want to equip them to step into the real world with courage and boldness.
What i don't want is to be crippled with fear and indecision. I don't want to teach our children how to compare ourselves with others and then sit in a pool of condemnation. We all have giftings and we all have failures and part of growing is to get back up and keep trying. I may never be "that" mama with amazing Instagram pictures that create homeschooling envy but i am that mama who is crazy over her children.
So today i choose joy in where we're at. I will pray about how to add more natural learning to our days and i will trust that God is bigger than my insecurities.