“You can be anything you want to be!” God never said this, as far as I know. He designed us in a maddeningly specific and personal way. However, it’s the central promise of children’s shows and Facebook memes.
I’m already a writer, wife, mom, and homeschooler, and I’m happy with that. But sometimes I’d like to be a different type of homeschool parent. “You can be whatever you want to be!” seems like a pretty good idea. Maybe God shot and missed the mark here.
Because I really wouldn’t mind being…
THE PATIENT PARENT. I’m fairly even-keeled. But if I’m low on sleep, under pressure, or keeping up with multiple kids who all have needs at the same time, I transform into an evil queen who flings snacks just to appease her whiny minions.
I have several friends who aren’t like this at all. They can teach several children while holding a baby while working on supper while carrying on a conversation. I wouldn’t go so far as to say that woodland animals scamper in to help with cleaning, but if they did, my friends could work them into the chore routine.
It’s not that my friends are more accomplished than I am; it’s that they manage to look beyond the daily grind and appreciate their children and life. I want to be like this, but so far haven’t gotten the knack.
THE TEACHABLE MOMENTS PARENT. I knew what type of homeschool mom I’d be. If my children expressed interest in an idea, we’d pursue it. You saw a frog in the flowerbed? Let’s look up frogs! What do they eat? Where do they live? Let’s do math problems based on frogs! Wait, why are you talking about moths? We’re talking about frogs. No, you can’t go outside, you haven’t finished your math. Stop whining—sit down and do your worksheet. Frog curriculum = officially abandoned.
I admire the homeschooler who can take an idea and build an entire structure around it. They make education a journey of discovery and creativity. It would be nice to be like that sometimes.
THE LAUGHING PARENT. I do have a good sense of humor, but not when I’m trying to get stuff done and kids keep, well, being kids. I’m in awe of my friends who can see the humor in life even when their tasks are derailed. “My toddler unrolled two and a half rolls of toilet paper today! So while I was cleaning it up, I had my older kids calculate how much more he did than yesterday, using percentages. We also designed and drew a warning label on his forehead.”
Laughter despite irritation—that’s almost a superpower. I’d like one of those, please.
THE CRAFTY PARENT. I want to be crafty. When I walk into a craft store, I get excited by all the possibilities around me. The problems set in when I actually try to make something. All that following instructions and cutting straight lines and stuff give me a headache. Combine this headache with my evil-queen reaction when I get interrupted, and you will understand why I specifically un-volunteered to help with craft time at our weekly co-op.
So I watch with amazement as crafty moms guide kids through projects with glue, paint, ribbons, noodles, even glitter. It’s like these moms really enjoy it, and under their enthusiasm, the kids produce…art. Why can’t I do that?
THE ORGANIZED PARENT. It’s not like I exist in a state of chaos. I keep daily life running pretty well. But that’s pretty much my capacity for organization. I still lose papers. I always leave stuff behind at people’s houses. I can’t plan for events farther away than two weeks. I hate being on a schedule. No, wait. I detest being on a schedule.
The people who plan, schedule, and keep everything sorted out—I love those people. They give my world structure. I have the freedom to be creative without everything disintegrating into a morass of lost shoes and forgotten emails.
I never could make myself into one of these people. So I took drastic action. I married one.
You can be whatever you want to be! is a good soundbite. The reality is that we have to work within our own limitations. And that can be really frustrating.
On the other hand, it can be a relief to admit that we don’t have to do it all. We can relax and work within our own gifts. Meanwhile, it enriches our lives when we appreciate the other types of people who fill up where we fall short.
I see what you did there, God.
Note: Here are the answers to my third Name That Woman quiz. I’m a little late getting them posted, but I told you I wasn’t good at organizational stuff.
- Raederle (Heir of Sea and Fire, Patricia McKillip)
- Amy Carmichael
- Nancy Drew (The Nancy Drew series, Carolyn Keene)
- Mary the mother of Jesus
- Kit Tyler (The Witch of Blackbird Pond, Elizabeth George Speare)
- Miss Jane Marple (The Murder at the Vicarage, Sleeping Murder, etc., Agatha Christie)
- Kim (Mairelon the Magician, Patricia Wrede)