Sunday, August 28, 2011

Prayers and answers: homeschooling

I've been on vacation for the last week (which was lovely, by the way). The week away gave me ample time to research, consider and pray about whether or not to give homeschooling a try. I wish I could say I did those in reverse order, but I'll be honest.

I am a notorious overthinker. I can overthink the smallest thing, but give me something big and watch out. I stretch out the tought, working it over and over in my mind until it's soggy like a wet noodle. And then I attempt to dry it out and think on it some more. I started my week pouring over homeschooling websites, blogs, research, statistics, and ideas. I went to bed the first night barely able to sleep, partly because it was an unfamiliar place, and partly because I couldn't seem to find my brain's off switch.

So it was then that I prayed. In my moment of mental desperation when I was tossing and turning with my head spinning, I finally turned to God and said, "Help me out with this!" I tried to quiet myself and spent a lot of time repeating the same thing over and over just to get my mind to stop spinning.

Once in a while when I pray about something big, I immediately feel like I get an answer. It doesn't always happen, or perhaps I'm not always listening very well. But I really focused on listening that night, but not listening expecting to hear anything... just listening. Two things popped into my mind. One was the word "fear," which got me thinking about a homily we heard recently that touched on the phrase "Fear not." I realized immediately what that meant. I needed to let go of any reasons to homeschool, and any reasons not to homeschool, that were based on fear.

Fear of bad kids, bullies, etc. - not the reason to homeschool
Fear of whether my kids will do well at public school - not the reason to homeschool

Similarly, and these things were bigger on my mental checklist -
Fear of what other people will think if I homeschool - not the reason not to homeschool
Fear of whether I can handle it - not the reason to not homeschool
Fear of what to do next year, or the year after, or in middle school, or in high school - not the reason not to homeschool

Letting go of fear helped me get a lot of clarity on the subject. I realized that a lot of what was holding me back was fear of what people will think. I know a lot of people don't have a favorable opinion on homeschooling and I'm going to get a lot of questions. I still worry about the first time I run into David's kindergarten teacher because I have this image of her smiling at me while inwardly thinking I'm ruining his life. Obviously I disagree, but I do have an unfortunate tendency to stress about what I think other people think. But I realized that's not a good reason to base this decision.

The second thing that popped into my mind was the song, "Let it Be," by the Beatles. I have a friend who says she often hears the answers to her prayers in the form of songs, but this was new for me. Out of nowhere I was singing the song in my head, and I haven't heard that song in ages. I realized I needed to literally "let it be" for a while. My husband and I weren't seeing eye to eye on the issue - he was open to the idea of homeschooling, but I sort of sprung it on him and at first he said he thought we should wait a year. That wasn't sitting well with me, but I let it go for the time being. We both needed time to process the idea, so I didn't bring it up with him again right away.

We took a kayak trip down a river, just the two of us, on one of our last days on vacation, and the subject of homeschooling came up again as we floated in the sun. I told him what I was thinking (that we go for it and start this year, even though public school starts soon), and I explained my reasons. He thought about it for a minute, then agreed. I think if I'd kept pushing it all week, he would have kept resisting. But "letting it be," gave us both a chance to let it sink in and ultimately come to an agreement.

The best part of the whole process was telling my son. He said, "Yessssssss! I was hoping you'd chose homeschool!" That burst of six-year-old encouragement was awesome, to say the least.

So here I am, about to embark on something very new and very, very unexpected. Suddenly I'm a homeschooling mom!

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