This article was originally published in the Summer 2018 Homeschool Idaho Magazine.
I saw a photo the other day of a worn out, exhausted mother collapsed onto a chair, hand to forehead.
The caption under the picture read “I put my symptoms into Web MD and it turns out I just have kids.”
I couldn’t help but giggle.
I knew exactly how she felt.
The aches, the pains and the struggles that I have experienced since I started the journey of home school played vividly in my mind: a heightened sense of smell and sound, exhaustion, confusion, decreased knowledge, amnesia and body aches, just to name a few.
The list kept getting longer and as time went on the symptoms remained, often intensifying during various periods.
‘Surely I have some terrible disease,’ I remember thinking.
As I interacted with other home school mom’s I discovered that I am not alone in these symptoms and that what I am experiencing is quite common.
I needed a remedy, so I sought out older, wiser women that had gone before me. I shared my symptoms with them in hopes of comfort, answers and direction.
It turns out I am not going to die, at least not from home schooling.
Here is what I learned:
The heightened sense of smell I have been struggling with?
My experienced friend told me it is not my sense of smell at all; it’s the fact that I have a boy that lives in my home. It’s totally normal, and I need to prepare for it to intensify.
“Boil some orange peels” she said.
The ringing in my ears I have been enduring?
I got them checked, they are fine. It just happens that when my kids reenact every single book we read, they do it at the top of their lungs, sound effects and all.
“Just enjoy the show” I was advised.
The exhaustion I am experiencing?
That is exactly what I speculated it was: exhaustion.
There is no other explanation.
Thankfully the treatment was simple: Stop staying up until 1 a.m. planning.
The result has been that we actually accomplish a lot more now than I could have ‘planned’ in the late night hours and I am no longer too tired to enjoy it!
What about this new addiction to books I have recently been trying to get under control?
As I opened my mouth to ask this veteran home school mom, I paused and looked around her school room to observe the floor to ceiling bookshelves. The question never left my mouth because I believed it was safe to say I was not alone in this and she, herself, had obviously not found a solution.
I had one symptom that was the most concerning of all to me.
It was the symptom of amnesia and a steady decrease in my knowledge.
As my children and I read through our text books together, much of the information was unfamiliar to me.
In science, I can’t recall a teacher ever teaching me scientific evidence for creation.
There are huge events in History that are completely foreign to me, yet seemed essential to our understanding of the past.
Where has all this information gone? Have I lost it? Have I forgotten it?
As I pondered I came to a realization: it is not that I have amnesia, it is that I was never actually taught these crucial things in my own public school experience.
My guess is neither are kids in public school today.
That was the moment it all changed. I realized these were not ‘symptoms’ I was experiencing.
They were blessings; side effects of the greatest gift of all: to be my children’s teacher:
To know what they are learning and make sure the most important things are not overlooked;
To teach them to think;
To learn alongside of them;
To see them light up when they discover something new;
To be the one to ignite in them a passion for what God designed them to be; to do;
To hear them, as loud as they are, laugh, play, sing and live!
And the greatest ‘side effect’ of all?
Peace in knowing that I get to point them to truth in all things.
Peace in knowing that I am doing the job I have been created and called to do and that I have been given everything I need to do it. (2 Peter 1:3)
I am not dying, although at times it feels overwhelming.
I do not have a disease.
Rather, I have a gift; the greatest gift of all!
So, I will shut WebMD down, I will get up and I will go find the source of the smell drifting from my boys room ….
….and chances are, I will turn it into a lesson that I couldn’t have planned for!