I don’t think there is a day that goes by in the life of a homeschooling mom when she does not feel like she failed. I can say this in all confidence because not only do I live it but I get messages from other moms in the same position and hear it in person on lots of occasions when we happen to leave the house
We may start out feeling like we are ready to conquer the world and end up feeling like we can’t conquer the next two minutes without crying our eyes out and ending the day in a puddle filled with every single dream of all of our children that we have drowned with our utter impatience and selfishness. Or maybe that’s just me, but either way, it is a totally true story.
When a kid fails I feel like I have failed them, myself, my husband, the dog, and maybe even their future spouse, children and grandchildren. Oh yeah and of course their pets will someday suffer from my failures as well. Yeah, it’s a lot on my head.
See, I have all these different little kids that are in different grades with different needs and abilities and learning patterns and they have hearts and feelings and little baby brothers and sisters that need to be fed, and all these things in the house that are daunting me and then there is package that is coming, and the class we have tonight and stuff to take to church and more laundry but first we have to get through this last page of Dick and Jane and we have to do it now…. Now….. NOW ….. Because we have to hurry and I AM NOT LAURA INGALLS!!!! Then…. Yeah, I failed. I failed in teaching them well, I failed in self-control and I failed to get the socks matched and I failed to be a good example and I failed in making it what I knew it would be when I first roused them from their beds not so many hours ago.
When the kids fail I tell them it is so that they can better learn to do things a different way. When they fall short I tell them that they get to start over again tomorrow. When they beat themselves up and don’t want to try again I reassure them that they are loved and that in no way does one small defeat define anything they are, will be or can become. I do all of this, in the moments when I haven’t yet gotten to the point where I feel like I have indeed failed!
If I could only extend that to myself. If only I could look at the dusty mantle and the laundry on the floor and see a way that it can help me to learn to do better tomorrow.
I think maybe it feels so much like the end of the world when you think you fail your kids because the only reason you or I or anyone would do this is because we never want them to feel like we (or maybe I am projecting and it is just me) feel when we are in the dream drowning puddle- miserable. We know what and how we want them to learn, but it doesn’t always work out that way.
I would like to be able to as easily point to all of my successes during any given day as I do toward my failures. I am working on that. I know what I am doing is for reasons I some days lose in the forest of my imperfections, but I pray that in the end the kids have the joy of having been loved wrapped up in their thoughts of ABC’s and 123’s.
On bad days, though, I still only see them remembering my every cross word or scowl or outward frustration. I see them not learning enough or thinking I tried to cram too much in one day, one week, one hour. I see all the things that could be viewed as failure in small glimpses everyday. I think I magnify the bad in my little head. I think If I have less of those days they will have less of them to remember.
Until I miraculously become perfect, I will try and remember that a failure today makes room for improvement tomorrow. I will try to remember that, like I tell them, a piece of art can never be a loss; you just keep working until you once again see beauty in it. I will try and remember that grace is also mine and that, indeed I am NOT Laura Ingalls.
I need more coffee.