Can we have a little heart-to-heart? I feel moved to talk about a topic that keeps popping up in email, phone calls, and messages. It’s this:
They sometimes call in tears. Or they email to tell me they thought they were the only ones.
Nope. I cried too.
I cried when I was overwhelmed—so much to do for so many.
Maybe you cried when the middle child (7) read before the oldest (9).
We cry when all our best efforts—the field trip planned weeks in advance—turns into a toddler meltdown and is ruined for everyone.
Some of us dissolve into a hot mess because the partner we trust to encourage us questions our strategy, judges the not-yet-proven results, sows doubt.
The tears slide off our cheeks in the shower, out of view. But they’re real.
I remember taking time each week when my kids were small to book a room in the library for myself. My husband took care of the children at home while I spent 2-3 hours in a sound proof closed space, alone, ostensibly to work on freelance writing.
Many weeks, however, I wound up on the floor—sobbing, and then sleeping the deep sleep of emotional exhaustion. More than once, a kind librarian had to gently knock on the door to wake me so the next user could enter.
I didn’t always know how weepy I was until I had space to be alone, to feel it. In the quiet, my worries bubbled to the surface.
- What if I’ve made a mistake with X child?
- How can I know that my choices are not causing permanent set backs?
- When is the time to worry and involve professionals?
- Is there some way to know I’m on the right path for my family?
- What if I’m missing key academic markers?
- If we don’t use tests or grades, how can I measure my children’s progress?
And the worst one of all:
Who do I trust: me? my spouse? my friends? the school system? other home educators? authors of books? curriculum designers?
A different kind of tears.
And then… and then!
One of my kids would hand me a page filled with writing, happen-stance. On that page: a poem, a story transcribed for a non-writing sister, a diary entry, a letter, a list of birds watched at the feeder entered in a little notebook!
The bundled nerves unwound, grew slack.
Different tears—the good kind, the “I’m so glad I keep at it” kind.
My kids’ eager need to share their inspired work moved me, touched me.
A dawning awareness grew over a decade.
I could trust my children. I could trust their voices. In writing. In sharing. Certainly they didn’t know everything about how they were preparing for the future. The need to prepare them was still on me.
But in the midst of the doubts, one unfailing truth became clear:
I knew I was on the right track
when my children moved me to happy tears.
Nothing reassured me the way my children’s own growth did. When I could recognize the spark of learning, the personality of my children popping through their writing, the happy confidence of accomplishment in whatever task, I knew I was on the right track.
You can know it too. Look to your children.
The best home education moves YOU to tears, not your kids.
Stay the course!
We like to say in Brave Writer: When the tears come, the writing’s done.
Let’s flip it around: