It’s a trap!
Don’t stumble into it! Surely you can see it coming a mile away. As you watch the smudgy shape on the horizon become bigger and more real, you have two choices:
To stand there and let that perfectly coiffed, smart, capable homeschooler with the engaged happy learners and the bright smile dim your shine with the enormous shadow she casts…
…you can step aside, into your own pool of light, and lift your eyes to the sky—its boundless open expanse of reassuring space to grow and evolve and become.
You have that choice every day.
The perennially eager learners are a fantasy—children are like us.
Some days they are engaged and enthusiastic.
Some days they are bored and whiny.
Some days they are content to simply follow the program, too distracted or tired to commit energy to creativity or imagination.
Some days you have so much fun—then you tuck in your darling dear to hear him declare that he never has any fun.
You can’t control how your children respond to your best efforts and conscientiousness.
You can’t manage your children into “model unschoolers.”
You can’t keep up with your best friend or the fantasy homeschooler you think lives in another state, doing it more skillfully and with ease.
What you can do—what you can do right now today—is to be present to the children, home, and life you have. The small moments that accumulate to create the feel and memories of your family are happening all day today.
You can help establish some of the mood of your family simply through paying attention to:
- a smile directed at you
- a clutter-free space on a table for lunch or copywork
- the spontaneous sharing between siblings
- diligence even if displayed for only 5 minutes at a time
- humor and little jokes
- completion of one subject’s demands today (even if all the others fall through the cracks)
- one line of quality writing in a read aloud
- picking a flower from the back yard and putting it in a glass of water
- eating something yummy
- snuggling a child
- explaining a concept and seeing the light go on this time!
More goes right than you appreciate.
Keep a record of what goes right today and side-step the visage of model homeschooling. It takes self-will and discipline.
I know for me, I get caught into the snare of comparison when I spend too much time looking at photos of other families. I project my biggest fantasies onto the happy smiles. As my mom says, “Facebook shows us faces, not lives.”
We can’t know the lives behind the images. If the stories we make up in our heads make us feel worse about our own lives, we are literally stepping into the trap and are immediately whipped upside down, hanging by a snared foot, from a tree branch.
Instead, get off the well-trimmed path.
Make your own way through the forest and notice what you notice. It’s quite possible that if you move away from examining what other people do, and pay more attention to the amazing tenacity of effort you give to your family, you will discover much to be proud of.
I dare you!
Cross-posted on facebook. Image © Yuyuyi | Dreamstime.com
I have struggled with this this “herd mentality” from when I went through school, then college, then grad school (22 years of schooling is a lot of baggage!)
I have noticed that my children, who have never been in school, do not do this (compare themselves incessantly to others) because they are not “peer dependent” like I was.
Earlier this year, I finally realized this (to stop comparing myself) when a well-known homeschooling family had a scandal that was devastating….I had always thought of them as the “perfect” homeschool family, and yet it was all a facade. So true that we don’t really know what goes on in others homes!
It’s nice that we DO have a choice…to focus on the little joys of life. There are so many around us if we “pay attention”. Thanks for the exhortation to focus on the positives!