For the past 22 years I have been working on a project. This past week that project ended. I’ve learned a few very important lessons that I’d like to share with you. What project? Educating our four children at home. This past week we graduated our final student.
Among other things, I have learned the following:
- Perfectionism is not your friend. It is a false god we seek to appease and in the seeking, lose the valuable opportunities for messes made and lessons learned; courage gained through falling and learning to get back up; training our children that the journey is the reason for it all, not the thing in the way. It’s the trials that teach us and the difficulties that strengthen us. Making life easy for our children now is actually making life very difficult for them later. Nothing is perfect in this life and expecting perfection from anyone or anything is foolishness.
- Don’t fight your husband, listen to him. He is a gift from God to you and he is usually right.
- You cannot buy an education, you earn it through trying and failing; by venturing into unknown territory, willing to get lost and make the effort to find your way back. The best educations do not come packaged in neat and clean boxes; they come with sharp edges and pieces missing. They make you work and sweat and think and grow. I have often said to my children, “All education costs.” Sometimes it costs money, but usually it costs a great deal of time, great mental and emotional effort, physical pain or often a swift kick to your pride. All education costs.
- The days are long but the years are short. Time moves very swiftly and children grow very quickly.
- Make sure your children know you love them no matter what. Show them that you love them more than a clean house or a quiet morning; more than the math lesson they don’t understand; more than the grades they earn; more than their evaluator’s opinion of them or their friend’s opinion of them. If you could jump back in time you would see that you weren’t much different at their age than they are right now.
I know I’ve been working on giving my children an education over these years of homeschooling, but it is I who has truly learned so very much:
- My students gave structure to my days and a clear purpose for my being.
- They made me want to guide them rightly and to be a good mom and a loving wife, and this desire drove me to my knees in desperate dependence upon God which is the safest and wisest place for a mother to be.
- They made me pour over my Bible every day so that I could learn to hear from God and share what I learned with them.
- They taught me the incredible blessing of moldable minds and that this is God’s plan that we might impress them in these early years with wonderful truths so that what’s learned as a child will serve to guide the man.
- They showed me the fun of reading aloud and listening to classical pieces like the Skater’s Waltz as we danced around the house in time to the music, laughing together.
- They taught me the importance of taking the time to identify the birds so I could tell them who was dining at the feeder or singing in the trees. This aspect of creation has taught me so much about our heavenly Father’s watchful care over us.
- My students taught me the wisdom and importance of setting specific time aside to, in the words of Patch the Pirate, “discipline our souls with godly self-control.”
- Lastly, they taught me the importance of respecting my husband and the sacredness of this thing called a family.
Mothers, I highly recommend that you throw yourself whole heartedly into this mission of teaching and training your children. Don’t straddle the fence trying to please both God and man. Discover the uniqueness of each child and seek to help them grow into the man or woman God means for them to be. It helps if you can view your child as a little man or a little woman that is independent from you and is responsible himself to the God who has placed him in your care for just this space of time.
This is not about how you look before men,
but rather preparing your little ones to stand before God.
The struggle of good, solid teaching and training is worth it. What you think you will lose by complete devotion to this task you will gain a hundred fold.
To my dear children: For all the laughs and for all the tears, I thank you. Your father and I love you dearly!
As seasons of life change, Elizabeth happily remains desperately dependent upon her God. Two of her four children have now branched off to begin their own families. She is a homeschooling veteran and a faithful wife of almost 30 years.