The struggle is human, not homeschool

Snapshot Joy

The Pinterest, blog, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram images of happy, successful, engaged, active homeschooled children are snapshots of when all the effort you put in clicks—for an instant, for that one project, one morning, one outing.

I love looking at those images—bright red polka dot teapots, open books on a checkered tablecloth, shell collections with annotations, three kids tossing handmade paper airplanes, the family hike with the dog on a leash, yummy health snacks artistically laid out on plates, even the helter-skelter mess of a long runway of cars and blocks and other obstacles down the hall…

We look at these images and think: “I wish my homeschool looked more like THAT.”

But the thing is: that’s how most humans feel about any collection of images. If you are single and wishing to be coupled, all the married photos and anniversaries and big group outings of pairs make you utterly miserable.

If you are childless and your entire feed is filled with babies and showers and strollers and the little monkey next to a four month old pudgy buster, you’re going to think your life is awful and the sun isn’t out for you.

If you do have love and children and a home—basics that are craved by a huge number of people who would settle for your messy hallways and uneaten treats and the bickering of sleepy cranky siblings—you will still find ways to separate yourself from the feeling of wholeness by simply narrowing the scope of your search for what is missing in your life.

So you notice the types of cozy, livable homes other parents create that you haven’t, or the way someone else’s child is “invested” in learning to play chess or memorizing the constellations unlike your stunted-growth 6 year old boy who only cares about ways to torment his little brother with burping noises and won’t. stop.

We are bombarded with images—images of exercising, yummy food, fabulous home styles, married bliss, celebrations, generations of family members smiling for a camera as though they all get along famously. We crave what they sell and forget what they conceal.

We add homeschool images and do the same—wondering how we can get our lives to match those single moments of time.


You already have these moments, too. You may or may not take a snapshot, but scattered through your busy, messy, not quite what you planned days are those golden moments of yummy food, cozy home, invested learning, and love. If you could take photos (and this is why so many people DO take pictures) of those moments and then scroll through your own feed, you might begin to see that you actually are doing it—living the life you always wanted.

It’s just that the life we always wanted comes with mess and hardship and heartache, like every other version of life ever lived. You won’t get a pass. There’s no special key that will end the challenge of raising children so that it is a seamlessly joyful experience start to finish.

It is stupendously joy-filled! We are compelled to have these offspring no matter how many people tell us it will cost us all our life savings, life points, and good looks. The joy—the single moment snapshot joy—outweighs ALL else.

When you start to wonder if you’ve got the stamina to keep going, know that you do. You will. What other option is there?

Within that certainty that you will keep going (whatever that looks like, however your children are schooled), choose deliberately to be alert to snapshot joy. Be a contributor to the stream of happy out there that helps others get ideas, and the hope to keep trying. Include snapshots of when it goes hopelessly wrong so we can comfort you or laugh with you or stand with you.

The struggle to feel good about your life is useful to you. It motivates you to keep at it, to want to improve, to care about outcome. This proves to me and everyone else that you are not depressed and are doing it right.

The next step is proof for yourself: please prove to yourself that you are making a happy life for you and your kids. One snapshot, one moment at a time, even if those moments are a week apart. It all counts! And they all add up to the wonder of your family.

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