If I’m honest, there are days I wish I weren’t homeschooling. I imagine someone else taking responsibility for my children’s education, relieving me to my own work. I would be able to workout regularly and spontaneously meet friends for morning coffee or Mark for lunch. I could finish my graduate degree or commission more work (and receive a paycheck, too). For hours each day, the house would be clean and quiet. I could do simple tasks like grocery shopping or finishing a home project alone. I could visit my kids at school or hear about their days over an afternoon snack. I could help them with homework, commiserating with them about its tedium and the un/kindness of classmates. Wouldn’t we all enjoy the space from one another and likewise enjoy our time together more?
On these sort of days, I might begin looking at schools again, searching for the perfect alternative, but honestly, we have few. For various reasons that I won’t flesh out right here, my husband and I still don’t feel that public school is the right choice for our kids, for their minds or their persons. Not right now anyway. I’m not offended by public schools or by parents who choose this option. We all are trying to do what’s best for our families, and I always hope we are all willing to give one another grace in this process of child-rearing. On the other hand, Mark and I cannot afford private schooling, even the part-time hybrid programs gaining more popularity. So at the very least, our choice to homeschool has become the default. That’s one perspective anyway, and if I choose to meditate and perceive my life from that place, the thinking that our life is the result of a default, I will grow resentful of this choice. Of my life. Of my family. And if I’m not aware, there are days like earlier this week that these feelings creep in to settle over me like a fog.
Lately, I’ve been reading Henri Nouwen’s The Return of the Prodigal Son–a timely and rich read, in which he writes, ”Resentment and gratitude cannot coexist, since resentment blocks the perception and experience of life as a gift. My resentment tells me that I don’t receive what I deserve. It always manifests itself in envy.” Bam. These words disperse the resentful fog like sunlight. My life. My children. These messy, loud, sometimes unproductive days are a gift. The issue is not whether to homeschool or not, the issue is the entitlement in my own heart, the lie living beneath my daydreams that better is somewhere else. In the face of hard days, I want to see this particular choice and all of the limitations/costs with it as a gift, and that only comes through thanksgiving.
I notice the kids piled together on a couch, observing and playing with a bug on the window. The house is a mess. Their feet are bare. Olive is in pajamas. We have a million other things to accomplish in the day, but I put them aside for the moment to breathe, to give thanks for each of them and for the freedom of choice.