Saturday, August 31, 2013

Being Cool About School, a series: Our Story Part 2 {lessons I learned from letting a good thing go}

It all changed on an everyday Thursday in December. 

Perhaps you should consider taking homeschooling off your plate for now. You need space in your life.

My counselor and my husband looked at me with compassion that was both sure and gentle. It felt like a loving ambush.

Their faithful but fateful counsel pressed hard on my spirit and elicited a deluge of conflicting emotions and responses. Feeling resistance and relief, I thought of all the reasons this couldn't work and then prayed against all odds that somehow, it would. 

The kids aren't ready, I argued. I haven't prepared them for this. I don't have recent test scores to hand over. The school I want them to attend won't be an option mid-year. I've been homeschooling for nearly five years and can these kids of mine even hack it in real school?

Despite my doubts and protests, deep down I knew they were both right. 

I just needed permission to let a good thing go. 

Through a series of quick and miraculous events, my kids started at the public school of our choice just four days after that meeting. Instead of beginning in January, they began during one of the most fun weeks of the year: Christmas party week. The principal invited them to come early, make new friends, meet their teachers, and enjoy a festive week. The timing couldn't have been more perfect.

Though I was open to my kids one day going to school, I assumed I'd spend the entire year prior to their "re-entry" getting them ready and getting myself ready. An entire year to fill in gaps, do the appropriate testing, etc. 

I had four days

And that was for the best. As it turned out, there was no reason for all of the stress and preparation. They handled the abrupt switch with greater courage and openness than I could have ever imagined. They taught me that I stressed too much and expected too little. During the early part of that journey, I took my cues from them and marveled at God's goodness to us all.

Don't get me wrong, it was not a walk in the park. The first weeks were emotional. I cried a lot. I slept a lot. I had to rearrange the furniture so that it didn't look like our homeschool. Curriculum and school supplies made we weepy so I had to march them to the attic. Tiny triggers of the everyday we experienced for almost five years seemed to be everywhere. 

At times the quiet was marvelous and at times the quiet was miserable. 

I think I felt equal parts grief and relief.

But I knew that the decision was good and right. I did. My husband especially knew that it was good and right. I don't know what we'd have done without the comfort and leadership he provided to all of us during the transition. 

Almost two years later, I still marvel at God's sweet goodness through it all. 

Every transition is not that seamless and our story certainly isn't everyone's report. I get that. And though the only story I can best tell is my own, perhaps we can set aside the specifics of this particular narrative and still uncover some key lessons learned through letting a good thing go. Hopefully these truths can encourage us all, wherever we are on the map. 

Lesson 1: Sometimes the best thing is not the best thing if it's just not realistic. 

A method or model or system, no matter how noble or ideal, is only as good as the ones {or "one" in my case} carrying it out. 

Homeschooling, as beautiful as it still is in my mind and in my memories for those four-and-a-half years, is not worth one's physical health, marriage, or sanity. 

Sometimes we have to put a stake in the ground and pin down the bare bones priorities. Everything else is negotiable. 

For me, it wasn't so much the carrying out of the homeschool responsibilities. My older kids were becoming fairly independent and relatively compliant learners. But we were with one another all the time. I was constantly overseeing something and being needed either directly or indirectly. My days hinged upon my productivity and the productivity of my student-children. 

While I think I could have managed all of that during a season of relative stability, the cumulative stress of the previous years {that had nothing to do with homeschooling} had begun to weigh heavily until I was edgy and breathless from the dangerous combination of baggage and busyness.

My counselor and my husband were wise. I needed space. Space to rest and time to heal.

Lesson 2: There is a difference between productivity and fruitfulness.

Sometimes stillness is the most fruitful thing a person can do. This notion rocked my world and I'd be lying if I said I had it all figured out. 

But I do know this. I had become a mommy martyr, determined to keep doing the "right thing" for my kids even if it killed me. Sending my kids to public school allowed all of us to get a bit of space while I came up for air.

God has granted tremendous physical and emotional healing over the last 20 months. I'm realizing that he's ushering me out of that season of rest and into a season that's bearing fruit because of those many months of rest and renewal.

Rest is now more of a discipline, a practice of margin and boundaries in my own life and in our family life rather than a raw and immediate need to lie down or do nothing. 

But for a year and a half, while my kids were getting an education in public school, I was getting an education in rest and recovery. As I said in that post, 

I have allowed myself to be brainwashed by the world of martyr moms {or so they seem}. Therefore, rest feels like I'm disobeying my culture; admitting that I actually rest feels like treachery. 
Self-care may look a bit different for each of us but when it's really a necessary and life-saving / family-saving endeavor, perhaps we should think of it as stewardship instead of selfishness... 
If you're hanging by a thread, if your margin is in the negative, if you're so exhausted and frazzled you can hardly see straight, don't look at others and determine how you measure up. Look at yourself and determine how you're holding up.        
Maybe you need to say no or pull back, resign or rethink.  
The world won't stop spinning on its axis but you may stop spinning on yours. What may feel selfish at first could actually breathe more life into yourself, your home, and the world you influence.

I would never know the beauty and importance of rest and my family would have a significantly lesser wife and mom if I hadn't let the good thing of homeschooling go. 

Lesson 3: "Many people can be their teacher, but only you can be their mother."

My husband coined those wise words and I'm here to tell you, they have talked me down off the ledge a time or ten. For me, for this season, letting others be their teacher has enabled me to be a better and truer mother. 

Lesson 4: Sometimes real life re-routes us in ways that feel like failure but are actually grace.

I keep returning to that line I wrote a long time ago because it has been the significant theme of my life. Yes, it surely has. 

Twenty months later, I thank God for the unraveling that prompted the wise counsel on a December Thursday. 

I thank Him that I didn't have time to stress and prepare before I sent my kids to school. 

I thank Him that He worked it all out in a way that only He could have orchestrated because it confirms for all of us that this is His doing. We simply said yes.  

I thank Him for his crazy math: Mess + Hardship = Blessing. In this case, the "Blessing" is that my kids are exactly where they need to be, that we are all where we need to be. But here's the bonus: public school is where my kids want to be. Though they enjoyed homeschool and never asked to do anything else, they are at home in public school. At least for now.

I can look back and see all of that as failure. Or I can look up and receive it as grace. I choose to do the latter.

School has opened up a whole new world for all of us.

It's a place for learning, community, and difficult life lessons. 

It's a place for opportunity, success, and failure. 

It's a place for ministry, friendship, and growth. 

It is not the place I would have chosen at first but it is the place I now embrace, a place of grace. 

Lesson 5: Letting go is not failure. In fact, letting go may actually bring freedom.

Many parents choose to go from one way of doing school to another way of doing school without all of the angst I've written about here. I don't know why homeschooling had to be pried from my clenched fists before I could let it go. And I'm definitely not saying I should have let it go sooner. I'm glad for every day we experienced of living and learning together. 

All I can say is that when the time came to let it go, I'm glad I did. 

Letting go can take many forms:

  • Maybe your kids are in public school and one {or more} of them is simply not being served there in one way or another. Perhaps it is not a fruitful place for them; it may even be detrimental to their mind, body, or spirit. You want public school to work. You're committed to it. Just like my vision of a classical private school and then homeschool, public school may be your perfect vision for your kids. But it's not working. Do you need to let public schooling go?

  • Maybe your children are at a wonderful private school but you simply don't have the means to keep paying tuition. Or the commute has become all-consuming. Or it's no longer the great fit that it used to be. You don't want to pursue homeschool or public school. Your kids' current school is a beautiful part of your plan and you don't want to surrender to something lesser. Do you need to let private schooling go?

  • Maybe you're a bit like I was. You've crafted a beautiful image in your mind of what your homeschool life will look like and accomplish. But you're exhausted beyond measure. Or your marriage needs attention. Or a family crisis is taking much of your energy and attention away from homeschooling. Maybe homeschool is simply not a great environment and dynamic for one {or more} of your kids. Perhaps you're depressed. Or you need to go back to work. Do you need to let homeschooling go?

Letting go, whatever form it takes, is not like taking a magic pill and waking up to a life of rainbows and butterflies. I can't guarantee that letting go will make any or all of you healthier, happier, or more successful.  

In fact, just two nights ago I collapsed into bed and prayed against the creeping anxiety and questions. We're juggling more than we ever have and we're new at this. We're making difficult {and often unpopular} decisions. There are things I love about public school and things I loathe. And sometimes, when there's more to loathe than to love on a given day, fear and doubt can win the battle. 

By the way, this worked the same way when I homeschooled. One bad day or a string of hard days could cause me to question everything.

Even though we're no longer homeschooling, we're just as much in the trenches of parenthood as we've ever been; our days simply look different. Not "easier" different or "harder" different. But a "different" that, for our family, has ushered in more balance, overall health, personal responsibility, and new opportunity.

This series will not tell you what to do. I wouldn't ever want that responsibility. But this series will share the lessons I've learned on my crazy journey. If you find yourself somewhere in here, I'm glad. I long to be a voice of consolation and encouragement.

If you're rather settled on this whole issue of school, breathe a sigh of relief and thanksgiving. But perhaps there are areas in your life where you're striving for an ideal that you're not meant to have instead of embracing the real that is right in front of you. 

Friends, there can be peace and purpose in your imperfect life. Your own real life may be pointing to change and surrender. Are you open to this? It's scary, I know, but that which can at first feel like failure may in fact give way to a greater freedom and opportunity than you could possibly imagine. 


This is the third post in a series: 

Being Cool About School: 
Finding Grace & Freedom for Ourselves & Others in Our Educational Choices

{Whether We Teach Our Kids at Home, 
in School, or on the Moon}

You can read the earlier posts in the series here
Feel free to subscribe to the blog if you'd like to receive the rest of the series in your e-mail's inbox. You can do that in the right sidebar. And you may unsubscribe anytime you like. 

Friday, August 30, 2013

7 Things I Learned in August

I was going to publish the next post in the Being Cool About School series today but then I saw that Emily is doing her "Let's Shared What We Learned" link-up and it's one of my favorites. We basically meet up at the end of each month to share random, quirky, or meaningful stuff we've learned over the course of the month. I love these sorts of posts.

I already have the next post written in the school series so tomorrow I'm going to do something I never do: publish on a Saturday. Does anyone even read blogs on the weekend? I have no idea. But if you do, come back tomorrow morning for the next installment in the series.

But for now, feast your Friday attention on the life-changing, super meaningful, change-the-world stuff I learned in August.


1. I don't feel old enough to have been married 18 years. We celebrated our anniversary this month and I commemorated it with a blog post. Naturally. 18 Simple Thing I've Learned About the Not-So-Simple Art of Marriage.

Why yes, we are 12 in this picture.

2. PicMonkey. I know, I'm probably two years behind the times on this one. I usually am. I don't have Photoshop. I don't know how to do fancy, creative stuff on my computer. I use Blogspot {for the time being} instead of Wordpress. But when I started my series this week, Being Cool About School, my friend Richella said, Girl, you need a pinnable image. And then she made me one. I was so impressed. She told me she did it on PicMonkey. It's a free and super easy photo-editing site. Here's the image she made:

Cute, right? Anyway, I played around with it a bit and am really excited to use it for future blog stuff.

{Special thanks to my friend Kindel for figuring out how to make these images "pinnable" by inserting a bit of code. Now you can just hover over any image and it shows the Pinterest "P."}

3. And speaking of the series, I've learned that a lot of you are interested in the subject of finding grace and freedom in our educational choices. I've been overwhelmed, in a good way, by all of the e-mails, facebook messages, and comments. 

When I had a big birthday back in May, I said that 40 feels like permission. 

Permission to take all that I'm learning and actually do something with it. Permission to tap into some God-given loves even if I don't have the training or degrees or clout. Because y'all, forty is legit. I'm a bona fide grown-up now, old enough to have some credibility, experienced enough to have some stories, tired enough to have some needful restraint, and brave enough to say yes to new paths.

Yesterday I talked with my friend, Julie, and she said, I feel like your writing has so much more confidence now. Perhaps she's right. I don't think I would have had the courage to write this series even a year ago. Thanks for your kind words and encouragement. Yes, I'm a bit braver than I used to be but I still get all shades of nervous to write about such a personal and "loaded" subject.

4. Transition, even when it's good and timely and needed, can be exhausting and weird. All five of us, plus the dog, are still reeling from the schedule changes that began with the advent of a new school year. 

I inexplicably want to take naps in the middle of the day, every day. I've stopped nearly every day for a sweet tea or soda at local gas stations and drive-thru's. We're all pretty much wiped out by 7 pm. I forget that it's like this every year.

Even our poor, extroverted, emotionally-needy, canine member of the family went on a hunger strike for the first week of school and sank into a depression. She literally stayed in this spot, every single day, from 8 am until 3 pm.

We may need to look into doggy Prozac.  

5. Popsicles are like a magic wand for 5-year-olds who are struggling with start-of-school woes. If you read this post about all the tears my kindergartener and I shed on the first few days of school, you may be wondering, So how is all that working out? 

The whole first week was rough. I'm not gonna lie. But every day when I picked him up, he told me how fun it was; it was simply the "getting there" part that killed us. And then my husband told our 5-year-old that if he was able to go to school and be brave, he would get his own box of popsicles. 

Parenting gurus around the globe will probably send me hate mail now. But hear me. By the time you get to the third child and are in your 13th year of parenting, you are chucking idealism to the curb and camping out in the land of "whatever works." Our big boy has not shed a teensy-weensy tear since that day. He goes to school like a boss. Who knew? We are now on our second box of popsicles which has likely ushered in all sorts of additional dysfunction. 

6. Fourth-grade boys are the easiest species on the planet to dress. My son wears this "uniform" to school every. single. day: basketball shorts, t-shirt, the ridiculous black tall socks {you know what I'm talking about}, and running shoes. I hope this outfit never goes out of style, even though the socks resemble my dad's "Sunday" ones with a Nike swoosh added. We may have taken to sleeping in our next-day clothes on school nights because basketball shorts and t-shirts are essentially pajamas. And also real clothes. God bless him. 

7. I'm attending the Allume conference. I'm over the moon about this. My husband and I decided I should go...right after it sold out. So I had to resort to all sorts of social media desperation to find someone selling a ticket. I finally did just a couple of weeks ago. Ann Voskamp is speaking so I'm a bit giddy over that. I've never been to a blogging conference but this one isn't too far away and I couldn't pass up the opportunity.

If you'll be there too, let me know.


So there you have it. Seven things I learned in August. Happy weekend, friends! Tune in tomorrow for my next post in the Being Cool About School seriesOur Story Part 2: Permission to Let a Good Thing Go.

If you want to subscribe to the blog in order to receive all the posts of the series via e-mail, you can subscribe in the right sidebar. Feel free to unsubscribe anytime. 

How about you? Any fun, weird, or exciting stuff that you learned in August?

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Being Cool About School, a series: Our Story Part 1

This the second post in a series. You can read the first post hereTo pin the image above, simply hover over the center of the picture. 


I began stressing about the education of my children before they were born. I wish I was joking.

Though I've only been a mom for twelve-and-a-half years, educating my children has been somewhat of a preoccupation for probably eighteen years, about the time I got married. Some of you probably think that's insane. And some of you can totally relate.

We welcomed our first child into the world in 2001. Within a few years I had determined how I wanted to educate her and any additional children we'd have.

What sort of educational utopia did I have in mind? A private, classical, Christian school. Preferably one with uniforms. It would be a safe, secure, and rigorous place for her to learn. Naturally, we would be part of a lovely community of like-minded parents and our beloved daughter would become a prodigy, what with reading classical texts and memorizing the history of the world and such. Plus she would receive sound theological instruction and remain protected from the "unsavory" influences of the masses.

Sure, private school would be expensive but by that point, we'd hopefully be able to afford it. Perhaps my own college teaching career could even help fund our children's education. I told myself that if anything is worth investing in, surely it's education. Surely we would make it work because surely this was the right way to go and surely God would bless and provide for such an honorable and noble endeavor.

Apparently I was sure about a lot back then. It makes me cringe to see those long-ago expectations written out in black and white. I'm so grateful God does not always give us what we think we want.

My dear husband was so not stressing about this. Yes, he is smart. Yes, he cares about education. He's an economics professor; obviously he cares. But he did not have a specific vision of how it should look. He is a pragmatist, thank the Lord, and not the high-strung idealist that I am. He assumed that whatever route we chose, it would most likely be fine.

Looking back, I would have been wise to have sought his wisdom rather than "expert" opinions found on the internet and in books and among other parents. But because he wasn't as worked up about the issue as I was, it pains me to tell you that I discounted his perspective and began the angst-ridden journey of figuring this out on my own. 

By the time our daughter was school-age, life as I'd envisioned it was already shaky at best. But that's another story. I traded in my three-quarter time position for full-time employment at the university where I worked. Many aspects of our lives seemed uncertain and my own full-time employment meant greater security.

We enrolled our daughter in a half-day, private kindergarten program but with my full-time job, we had to go with public school instead. 

Looking back on it, my devastation was so unnecessary. Truly, it's kind of embarrassing. Safe public schools are a luxury in many parts of the world but there I was lamenting this option like it was failure, all because it didn't match up with my ideals.

I'll never forget her first day of school in August of 2006 as we nervously walked down the kindergarten hallway. 

My sweet girl in her shiny new Keds, white cotton dress, and leopard-print backpack. 

My fragile self in heels, business attire, and a sensible tote.

And though our toddler son was safely situated in childcare, I was dealing with all sorts of guilt over that. I'm sure we looked polished and put together on that first day of school. The reality was anything but "together."

I held back the bulk of the waterworks until I reached my van. And then I bawled on the way to work, blew my nose, touched up my make-up, and walked resolutely into a conference ballroom to do a presentation in front of the entire university faculty. 

I did what I did best way back then: Soldiered on and pretended I was made of steel.  

But after the presentation and faculty meeting, I went to my office, locked the door, loosened the ties of pretense, and wept at my desk. 

This was not how life was supposed to look.

I did my job and I did it pretty well. But that was about all I could do. In the precious downtime I had as a full-time working mother of two young children, I slept and continued to cry "for no reason," gradually slipping into depression by early winter. Navigating the difficulties of marriage, motherhood, full-time work and utter emotional depletion had taken its toll. I rested as much as I could. I went on medicine that helped. I did not want to keep working.

In January, right before classes began, I made one of the hardest decisions I've ever made: I quit a job that I loved but could no longer keep. It was freeing and heart-breaking and terrifying. Just like that, we said goodbye to half of our income and a career that had brought me great fulfillment and precious influence in the lives of college students. 

We kept our daughter in school for the remainder of the school-year. During the next several months, I rested, went to Bible study and church, and spent copious amounts of time in the mornings with the Lord. This was a season of intense healing and renewal for me. 

In late spring we found out I was pregnant with our third child and we were both ecstatic. Our son's name means "mercy" because he was a living, breathing representation of God's renewal, provision, and protection for our family. He represented a new beginning in every way.

I was preoccupied with two things during that pregnancy: Morning sickness. And what to do about school.

Though our daughter enjoyed a fabulous kindergarten year with a loving and wonderful teacher, public school was still not part of my perfect vision. With family on the mend and a new lease on life, I returned to my idealism about education. Why read Junie B. Jones when we could read Plato?

I anguished all summer over the decision. Private school was too expensive and there wasn't one close enough anyway. We had two choices: Send her back to public school or homeschool.

Homeschool was something that seemed beautiful but unattainable. I loved the idea of living and learning together. I loved the freedom and flexibility it would provide. I loved the notion of teaching her what we deemed valuable and the idea of learning at her own pace rather than the state forcing its standards, expectations, and schedule on us.

But could I really educate my own kids? Though I had been an educator for the last eight years, I knew nothing about teaching little kids. 

Would I have the patience? 

Would I need a break? 

Would we all drive each other crazy?

Would they be bored and hate me and wish they could go to school like "normal" kids?

At the last possible moment in August, I surrendered to what my heart really longed for and what I believed God was calling me to do: be with my children. Thankfully my husband supported this decision. I still doubted my ability to homeschool but I knew this was a calling and I trusted that God would equip me for the journey.

For the next {almost} five years, we did school at home. 

Those were some crazy days. Still adjusting to life outside the work-force, I had three young children and did school with the oldest two while my hard-working husband taught every day and three nights a week. The littlest child remained attached to my hip or to the floor, likely adhered to the hardwoods by a rogue cup of spilled apple juice that had dripped through the cracks of our kitchen table / school desk.

Life was both messy and marvelous. Simpler, but in a chaotic sort of way.

We read books together, field-tripped together, ate every single meal together, often slept together {because I birthed the worst sleepers in the world}, rode everywhere together, and attended our weekly homeschool group together.

My only break from all of the "lovely" togetherness was early-morning running with my friend and the occasional restroom break. But not to shower of course. Showers were a luxury as well as a hazard. The littlest one, when not well-adhered to the wood floor by said apple juice, was prone to emptying the contents of entire bathroom drawers into the toilet when my back was turned.

But I wouldn't have chosen anything else. After seven years as a working mom, my heart longed to be with my little ones. I wanted to reclaim the time I felt I'd lost. Graduate school, work, selfish ambition, and personal trials had, in a way, stolen me from my children. 

I longed for us all to be fully present in one another's lives and we definitely were. Much of the time it wasn't pretty but it was real and sweet and I wouldn't trade those years for anything. 

I didn't know what school and the future would look like and by year four, I became increasingly open to other options. In the distant future of course.

But as we began our last year of homeschooling, I had no idea that we were almost done. No idea whatsoever that we'd have only five more months of life and learning as we had known it for so long.

The idol of the ideal was still alive and well in my heart even though it was crumbling in the everyday trenches of our homeschool.

Sometimes God reroutes us in ways that feel like failure but are actually grace.

And that's where I'd like to pick up in the next post.


This is the second post in a series: 

Being Cool About School: 
Finding Grace & Freedom for Ourselves & Others in Our Educational Choices

{Whether We Teach Our Kids at Home, 
in School, or on the Moon}

I invite you to read the first post in the series here

Feel free to subscribe to the blog if you'd like to receive the rest of the series in your e-mail's inbox. You can do that in the right sidebar. And you may unsubscribe anytime you like. 

Monday, August 26, 2013

"So are you still glad you switched from homeschool to public school?" The post in which I answer this question and also announce a SERIES.

So are you still glad you put your kids in public school?

I hear this question a lot. And the short answer is yes. But I always feel like it needs a thousand qualifiers and disclaimers. It's a weighty issue, this thing of how we do school with our kids. It can be divisive, cliquish, confusing, and overwhelming. Most of us don't enter into our decisions lightly.

Because I've done a bit of everything over the past twelve-and-a-half-years {working mom with young children, stay-at-home mom with young children, stay-at-home homeschool mom with young children, and now stay-at-home mom with kids in public school,} my heart and my mind are attached to all of these options for different reasons. 

Part of the decision I support every path is because I've been down every path. Well, not every path, but I've done this thing of motherhood and education in several different ways. Empathy and experience have taught me that these decisions are deeply personal and layered. 

Most parents I know have carefully sought clarity and wisdom regarding issues of work, motherhood, children, and school. And this is why we need hearty doses of grace. Heaping, overflowing, ginormous helpings of grace as we interact with others who have chosen differently than we have.

Someone you know may have spent two years anguishing over a decision that you just took two seconds to judge.

I should know. I've done it. I've anguished and waffled and gnashed my teeth. And though it pains me to confess, I've also privately passed judgement toward others who appeared either too self-righteous or not righteous enough.

I've found identity and security in homeschooling my kids and been forced to confront some ugly truths about the idols of my heart when I stopped. 

At times our decision to put our kids in public school has felt like failure. And at other times it has felt like freedom.

It goes without saying that this has been a rich journey for me and I'm becoming increasingly aware that it's one I've not traveled alone. 

Many of you read this blog years ago when writing here was simply the "escape hatch" from the overwhelming nature of my days as a homeschool mom of three young kids.

Looking back, it seems an impractical season to have picked up the hobby of blogging. But I realize that writing here helped me cope and connect in the midst of that very draining season of my life. 

I thought I was simply chronicling my days. Apparently I was doing more than that by assembling my own chronicle of sorts, living a story that's certainly not over but from which I have already gleaned many lessons. 

And some of you have asked me to write that story in a way that's cohesive and community-building. 

At first that sounded crazy but the more I've thought about it, the more I realize that there is much to say on the topic. There's plenty of support for homeschooling, private schooling, and public schooling, but there seems to be a vacuum on the topic of freedom and grace for parents struggling to know which road to travel. Though there are many resources and movements espousing one option over another option, I don't think I've ever read a post, article, or book that says: Hey, it's all cool. There's no wrong. But there is wisdom for your personal journey and freedom no matter which path you choose. 

Yes, I believe in absolute truth. And though some will disagree with me, this thing of how we school is not absolute. Though one side or another has been backed with Scripture, hard facts, anecdotal evidence, and even the Constitution, I believe it is negotiable. 

Is your mind anxious and awash with the constant chatter of confusing voices? Voices that evoke fear, condemnation, or guilt? Well, I'd like to be one, small, encouraging voice that offers a more grace-filled message. I want to speak the hope and freedom I wish someone had spoken to me many years ago when I began my free-fall down the unending spiral of school anxiety.

I've already written about this topic a good bit and I'll try not to repeat too much of what I've already covered. If you're interested in those posts, I invite you to click on the tab at the top of the blog, From Homeschool to Public School.

Now that 20 months have passed, it's easier for me to summarize why we chose to make that decision and why it's one we're sticking with until further notice. 

The passage of time has also given me sweet perspective on the blessings and benefits for us during those homeschool years. There are things I miss...and things I don't. 

Though we now embrace public school, we don't do it to the exclusion of other options, options that we have chosen in the past and that we do not at all regret choosing. We'll consider homeschooling again in the future should one or all of our children need it. But because of all that we've learned through trial and lots of error, we won't homeschool the same way and we'll know that it's not a better or lesser option; it's simply an option.

One thing that troubles me is that we tend toward mutual exclusivity about these school decisions. Sometimes it feels like choosing one route is an ideological rejection of the other route. 

It shouldn't be.

So with this perspective in mind, I'm planning to embark on a little series with the cheesiest and lengthiest title you've ever heard. Ready? 

Being Cool About School: 
Finding Grace & Freedom for Ourselves & Others in Our Educational Choices

{To pin the image above, just hover over the picture and you'll see the Pinterest logo.}

Who is this series for? 

  • Moms who don't yet have kids in school but are already stressing about how to educate them.
  • Homeschool moms who are weary and breaking down but too afraid to make a change.
  • Public or private school moms whose kids are struggling but they don't know what to expect or consider about homeschooling.
  • Moms on both "sides" who have felt judged or misunderstood by moms on the other side...or who have judged or misunderstood moms on the other side.
  • Any mom whose decisions about school are ruled by fear or duty rather than freedom and common sense.
  • Christian moms who want want to know how our freedom in Christ really does free us up and provides us with grace for others who do it differently.

Here are some post ideas:

  • Our story {a brief summary}
  • Why I'm glad we homeschooled for five years
  • Why we switched from homeschool to public school
  • Praises and pitfalls of both 
  • Things to consider before you homeschool {and how I'd do it differently}
  • Things to consider before you public school
  • You still homeschool, even if your kids go to school
  • How can we come together?

If you're interested in reading through this series, you can subscribe to the blog and have each post delivered to your e-mail address. Go ahead. I'll wait. {You can unsubscribe anytime you want.}

This series will last two - three weeks and I'll post three times each week.

Can I be honest as I close? I'm terrified. I tend to run from controversy. I'm a natural-born people pleaser. I'd rather edit and publish my funny post on being a "reluctant cheer mom" or show you the little writing nook I recently configured in the corner of my bedroom. And I'll get to those things and more in due time. 

But with school being back in session and some recent conversations I've had with others on the topic, I've decided to be brave and say yes to this opportunity that seems timely and right. 

My hope and prayer is that my writings here will spur all of us on to greater freedom as mothers and to greater freedom as sisters to our fellow moms. This thing of motherhood is not for the faint of heart and we need all the encouragement and camaraderie we can get.

I heartily welcome any suggestions or questions you may have. Most of all, I welcome your prayers as I strive to faithfully pursue this topic with truth and gentleness.

Read the rest of the posts in the series here. 


Feel free to chat it up in the comments section: Is this a relevant topic for you? Have you personally struggled with indecision or pressure to teach your kids a certain way? Have you ever felt judged for your personal choices on this issue?

Whatever your thoughts, I'd love to know and I'm really looking forward to sharing together. {If you put a question in the comments section, check back. I'll put my replies there.}

Special thanks to my sweet friend, Richella, from Imparting Grace. She loves the idea of this series and kindly suggested that I needed a "pinnable" image. And then she went and made one for me. I call her my "fairy blogmother." Thank you Richella! Special thanks also goes to my friend, Kindel at Willow White Studios, who made the lovely image pinnable. 

Feel free to pin, link, or share the series with anyone you think may benefit from it.


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