Dear Chronically Ill Homeschool Mom,
We may not know each personally but I would imagine we have a lot in common. You see, I homeschooled for over ten years with chronic Lyme disease.
While I’m so much better now, one doesn’t forget long difficult seasons likes that.
I remember how each morning my eyes would struggle to open. They felt so heavy from the long difficult, often pain-filled nights. The sun was shining through the window but it felt too early, I would roll over and try to ignore the noises coming from the children in the living room. The exhaustion was like a thick heavy presence over me. I was so weary, physically and emotionally. My body hurt so much and I had no idea how I would get through the day. My emotions were raw and tender because of pain and fatigue. Because of the long, difficult battle.
When we receive the calling to homeschool it often comes with some fear but also with great expectations. We envision a peaceful home, organized lessons, and diligent smiling children who love each other and obey without delay. This is not reality by-the-way! It’s our dream though!
But then one day, things just aren’t quite right. You’re not feeling so well but you push yourself anyway. You push to follow through with your well laid out plans. Each day brings increasing pain and fatigue. You struggle to understand why your body and mind won’t cooperate. You can’t remember things, you’re missing appointments, and your body hurts so badly. How many times can you ask the same question before you actually remember that you’ve asked it before?
You wonder why your children aren’t understanding their lessons and why they’re bickering and fighting. You walk through your house frustrated because you see all that needs to be done; piles of laundry, the kitchen sink full of dishes with dried on food, toys, and dishes still sitting around the living room.
It all overwhelms you and you can barely get breakfast made for everyone before you have to take a break to rest. How will you ever have the energy to clean and organize the mess that lies all around?
You begin to ask yourself those questions that will ultimately feed the fear and cause you to feel defeated! You know, those deep down fears that eventually creep up into your mind and swirl around like a tornado.
Am I doing the right thing? Do I have the right curriculum? Maybe this was a mistake. Who do you think you are to take on the role of educating your children?
Maybe I’m to blame for their learning struggles. They’re not reading yet, they don’t know their multiplication tables, I can’t give them what they need! I can’t teach them what they need to know. How can I be a good example when I’m so sick.
Maybe all those people are right and I’m really not qualified to educate my children. Maybe I should just put my children in school!
When that first thought pops into your head you need to STOP!
Recognize them as lies! Remind yourself of the truth, of your calling. Try to regain your perspective and think about what’s true.
Remember the Truth
First of all, take a step back and take a deep breath. This may be a good time to get the children busy with something, make a cup of tea and take a little break.
Begin by taking every thought captive unto the obedience of Christ. (2 Corinthians 10:5)
Recognize the lies and replace them with the truth. Grab a piece of paper, your smartphone or even a napkin and write it down. Write down the truth, that if God called you to homeschool your children. He will provide everything you need to do the job.
Write down why you’re homeschooling in the first place. What was it that first made you want to homeschool?
Write down a purpose statement for your family’s homeschool.
Write down what’s working. Is it really as bad as you think? You may want to get your husband’s input or that of a close trusted friend.
Be honest! If there are things you could do better or something that you could change to make your homeschool work better then write that down as well.
Pray and ask God to guide you and give you ideas for how you can change those things.
Don’t Compare or Compete
Don’t try to make your homeschool look like another homeschool and for heaven’s sake, please don’t try to make it look like the public school! The beauty of homeschooling is that each family can and should seek the Lord for how their family should homeschool because your children are not the same as my children or anyone else’s children.
In reality, homeschools greatly differ even in homes where everyone is healthy. Healthy homeschool Moms struggle with the same questions and doubts at times. They have similar struggles getting their children out of bed, getting them to do chores, and even struggles getting their children to understand that difficult Math lesson.
Our jobs are not easy, it’s a calling that has been placed on our lives from the Lord and He promised to help us.
I like to write down scripture verses to remind myself of God’s purpose, plan and provision.
Sometimes these are sticky notes that I place around the kitchen or on my laptop so I can be reminded throughout the day. Sometimes they are reminders that pop up on my phone. You can use whatever method works best for you.
14 19 years of homeschooling, God has consistently been faithful to provide help and direction every time I’ve asked and He will help you too.
Once you release yourself from a standard that is not practical, realize that it’s ok to have the children gather around for reading time snuggled up in blankets on the couch or in bed. It’s ok to listen to great books on audio or to watch an educational video when you’re having a bad day and can’t teach the lesson.
Finally, dear Mom, rest in the comfort that only God can give. Surround yourself with those who can speak life to you when you just can’t hear clearly. Do not look anxiously about you, fix your eyes on God and take one day at a time.
P.S. Since writing this post, I have graduated my three oldest daughters. I want to encourage you and let you know you can do it too.