I never planned to be a homeschool mom. I had nothing against homeschooling, but when my son was born, I really couldn’t fathom the day he would go off to school. Or stay home for school. Or talk. I certainly didn’t anticipate the day he would be driving, or be taller than I am. And yet, here I am.
My career took me to homeschooling conventions as part of my job, but I couldn’t imagine shopping for curricula, or teaching a child to read.
Though I should have known better, I still had a visual picture of a certain woman who played the role of homeschool mom. I was not that woman.
Then my son did begin school, and I discovered that I wasn’t so good at group think. I hated even the drop-off and pickup routine of school. After a year of it, I realized that what was best for my son was to be a kid. He would tell me of a classmate who cried all morning, and I wondered how he was able to learn anything with that distraction. He was sick a lot and missed a lot of days when he was recovering. I realized that, actually, he wasn’t missing much at all. He had more time in the sandbox, more time listening to me read, and time to play with his little sister.
So, I became that mom. But I still let myself believe I was the exception to the caricature I still had in my head of a homeschool mom.
I bought into the idea that real homeschool moms wore long denim skirts, only read Christian fiction, and lived for an annual homeschooling convention. For a while I believed I was the only one with a part-time job. Then I listened a little and found out that others worked as nurses, part-time college professors, novelists, photographers, and Starbucks’ baristas.
Today, if I look around for denim skirts, I see a few. I also see tattoos, a few nose rings, and a mom with purple hair. The contemporary homeschool mom is more likely to wear yoga pants and have an Amazon Prime subscription.
As I sat talking with other moms at a recent homeschool activity, I realized how different we were. Two were talking about “retirement”: one with a little dread, and one with eager anticipation. One mom said that being a homeschooling mom was her “dream job.” I know some can relate, but others of us arrived here without the dreaming.
More and more, I hear of moms (and dads) who never fathomed they would homeschool, but had something happen, or a series of bad outcomes lead them to figure out how to manage this life. Whether it is a kid bullied too often or ridiculed for being “smart,” aggressive sex ed being mandated in the district, or a child’s just losing interest in learning or the future, ordinary people make extraordinary sacrifices to give their families something better. We dream that our kids can have better experiences, pursue various interests, and not be cookie cutter versions of each other.
So sure, some of us make our own bread and yogurt. Others of us have a pretty active Door Dash account and pay for someone to come clean our house once a month. Some of us are organized, and some of us join co-ops to help us stay focused.
Some of us love teaching. Others, like me, break into psychotic laughter when the pastor asks if we would want to teach Sunday school.
Some of us get a little busy and distracted, furiously putting together some kind of lesson plans for the coming week instead of listening to the chitchat of the moms around us. Instead of talking to other moms, we are answering the work emails we planned to do before a child had a meltdown over math. We aren’t stuck-up; we are overwhelmed, exhausted, and not always sure we are qualified to teach science when we can’t keep our plants alive.
Homeschooling is what real parents with all kinds of challenges, interests, and backgrounds do for their families when they decide it is the right thing to do. Sometimes it is the first choice; sometimes it is the last resort.
I am a Rebel Homeschool Mom. Probably, so are you.
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