…and Schoolmarmee Burns

So yes, I cried the first night of homeschool when it hit me like a doorjamb (has anyone else ever run straight into a doorjamb? It hurts…) that my baby is a schoolboy now.

But that was nothing compared to the tears I shed on the 2nd day of homeschool, this time of a very different (and much darker) variety.

Sometimes it dawns upon a lady with an unsettling and depressing clarity that she has limitations that are in need of supernatural healing and strength, and sadder still, that she is undeniably selfish.

Schoolmarmee was met with such a dawning before we were halfway through our 2nd lesson on the first Friday of homeschool.

Gideon wasn’t so much being bad as he was being a normal and wiggly and self-absorbed little boy. The problem was (as is the norm) that I had set my expectations too high, and, during our week of preparing our homeschool sans children, I had conjured up blissful images of a Home Academy wherein my children sat on the edge of their seats, brows furrowed sometimes in concentration, sometimes in wonder, as a world of learning was opened up to them via my creative heart and eloquent tongue. There would be lots of laughter and order and tranquility and movie-quality moments, and my children would arise and call me blessed before we sat down to the extraordinary lunches I discovered on Pinterest (and then actually made).

But mostly, I expected that they would be grateful for all the hard work I had done and respectful of the amount of love and time I had poured into preparing our homeschool for them…

but I wanted a gratitude that 5- and 3- and 1-year olds don’t know how to express.

Unless they are characters in a book or on the big screen.

Needless to say, it didn’t take long for my high hopes to be violently dashed, and before I knew it, I was frustrated up to here with my students who wouldn’t know a good teacher if she was staring them in the face and who were absolutely undeserving of their tricked-out vintage homeschool room. (Not really. But that’s what I was thinking for a bit).

Don’t get me wrong – Gideon had plenty of fault in the matter, and was being as stubborn and mind-gamey as I was being unreasonable. And Rebekah and Betsie weren’t cooperating much, either…

but I am very ashamed at the way I lost my temper and yelled in anger at the human gifts God has entrusted to me.

I banished the lot to their nursery upstairs and called Mr. Gore on the landing of the staircase, crying.

“What’s wrong?!” he exclaimed, after the telltale silence on my end of the line.

“I don’t know if I can do this…” I sobbed.

“What?” he asked.

“I’m just not very good at this…” I whimpered.

“What?” he repeated.

“Oh…everything,” I wailed, “teaching…training…disciplining…being a Mom!!”

Because, worse than my disappointment that my life was not going to be a picture book, was the renewed awareness that I have a really hard time sometimes living for others. As excited as I was about our new routine and our new venture of home education, there was an underlying sense of dread that my days could not be spent doing what I wanted to do, that I was “chained down”, in a sense, to the decision we had made to homeschool for the next couple of decades, and worst of all, that the root of that morning’s frustration had more to do with my own sick and selfish heart than it had to do with the actions of my childish children.

Gideon occasionally peeked out the door to see if I was still crying, his eyes doleful. No matter what he has done, or how badly he has behaved, he hates to see his Mama cry. He slipped past me on the staircase and went downstairs as I continued to seek counsel from his Papa.

Mr. Gore is always good medicine, for he knows just how to encourage me while still giving me a good dose of tough love. He is always understanding, but never indulgent, and as he led me in truth, he helped me to remember that what I was doing was a praiseworthy and important thing…before reminding me gently that if we were going to choose this route for our children’s education, I must continue to work hard at living the gospel out for our kids and to mortify the sin that had been creeping into my life. (I had confessed to him earlier in the week that I had been sharp with the children more than ever before, and how much I hated it).

We hung up the phone and I sat there quietly sniffling, gathering myself, redirecting my focus, praying for forgiveness and grace…

I heard footsteps, and Gideon began to climb the stairs tentatively, a piece of paper in his hand.

“Here…” he said, shyly.

I took the paper in my hand and looked at it. It was a heart and it said “I love Mama”.

“I’m sorry I acted that way.” Gideon said.

“Gid…” I interrupted him, “I’m sorry. I should not have yelled at you like that.”

“But I was having a mean attitude,” he said. “That’s why you yelled at me.”

“Well…” I said, “We were both wrong. Do you forgive me?” I asked.

He nodded.

“I forgive you, too,” I said, “Our hearts are so broken, Gid. But God is going to keep fixing them and teaching us how to follow Him.”

We embraced, and sat there together, our hearts healing as we rocked back and forth.

So we had our movie moment, after all, even if it wasn’t quite what I had in mind. But we also discovered another facet of homeschool that I had yet to consider…the art of learning to live in harmony and to treat one another in the way that God commands, 24/7. And there on the staircase, I accepted the challenge of the lifestyle God has compelled us to live – the real one, not the one I had fabricated in my fluffy daydreams…

The breaks from each other will be few and far between. We will have ups and downs, peaks and valleys. We will have triumphs followed by miserable, miserable failures. We will be learning about the world and history and language together, but in the process, we will be on an intense journey of sanctification as a family unit. After our blissful week of preparation and our euphoric first day of school, reality had set in, and I’m glad. Because I think the best way for a Schoolmarmee to run her school well is to crash and burn right off the bat before swiftly handing the reigns back to the God who takes hearts of stone and turns them into hearts of flesh; I am confident that if our homeschool will turn out to be any kind of success, it will be by His grace and, for His glory alone. I pray that, more than book knowledge and cultural smarts and classical music appreciation, we will learn to love and to love well, beginning with one another.

And they say that home schooled children lack socialization and people skills…

On the contrary. I have a feeling that, by graduation day, we’ll be pros in the department of human relations.

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5 thoughts on “…and Schoolmarmee Burns

  1. I really think you must have peeked into the beginning of our little home school here in Ohio! I thought I was the only one with those feelings and struggles! It is nice to know I am not alone! Thank you for sharing your heart!!!

  2. Homeschooling is hard but I hope you don’t put it in a box and leave it in the school room. I have homeschooled for 13 years, graduated one and have a freshman and a Kindergartener and have learned that trying to do school like school is done in the outside world doesn’t work for every child. Put your expectations low, they are still babies. Play a lot!!! Pray a lot! But play!! I try not to do more than an hour and a half with my little one per day. She has years and years to learn other things but I only have a very, very short time to snuggle her, read to her, take her outside and enjoy all her silly words and littleness. We normally school in our big recliner, in the bedroom, snuggled up. When she has to do writing assignments, she has a small tray that we stand up, in the floor, she works on it and I sit on the floor. We sometimes take it to the kitchen table. Relax and enjoy….you’ll be graduating one before you can turn around twice.

    • Rebecca L. Thank you for your words of encouragement! Even though they were not directed at me they are very helpful and encouraging none the less!

  3. Dear Mrs. Gore,
    I speak from 27 years of homeschool experience – I homeschooled my six children from K-12, wrote diplomas for all six and I wouldn’t have had it any other way! I can attest to the fact that your sacrifice to take the time out of your life to pour into your children – teaching them Godly standards and a Biblical world-view for every subject learned) is worth far more than rubies or diamonds or whatever may look good in this world. You’re raising a mighty army for Jesus and the Kingdom of God will be enriched for your obedience and sacrifice. Yes, there were days that I definitely had to choose ‘Plan B’ and then some of those days that I even opted for ‘Plan C’ (all-day play day at the park or beach, etc!)
    I do not regret, in the least, the plans I had to put on hold (or completely forget!) – in order to spend every day with my precious gifts from God and to do my best to pour into them the nurture and admonition of the Lord, through me -His vessel. what an honor and a privilege to be used by Him in such a great way!
    My heart is the foreign mission field and God even made a way for all my children to make many mission trips overseas through the years and I, myself, took 20 mission trips to Africa, Tajikistan, Brazil, Zanzibar, France, Italy, Guatemala…God provided over $77,000 through the past 20+ years to send us out to share the Gospel and experience different cultures (ALL part of education, by the way!!)
    It’s amazing what God will do when we are obedient to take the first step of faith – even in the homeschool journey. I had no idea what He had in mind to do with my family, but He has proved Himself strong in our behalf time and time again.
    I just want to encourage you and any other homeschooling mother or father that reads this: YOU are your child’s BEST teacher!! And, YES! You CAN do this!! It is God working IN you and THROUGH you to accomplish HIS purpose in you AND your children!! Christ in you -the hope of Glory!!
    GO for it!!
    (I now have a full-time music studio in my home with 40+ students that come every week for piano and guitar lessons – ranging in age from 3 yrs to 81 yrs old! Here’s a link to my website, if you care to check it out: https://teresatullarsmusicstudio.musicteachershelper.com/
    BLESSINGS on all your homeschool days!
    Your sister in Christ,
    Teresa ❤
    Instagram: ttcurls
    Facebook: Teresa Tullar / ttcurls@yahoo.com

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