I have been feeling nervous––anxious even––about Liam transitioning into high school years of homeschooling. I have a loud inner-critic and a long memory for naysayers, unfortunately. And while I look back at the last decade without a single regret of our choice to homeschool, I find myself facing new giants as we turn this corner into high school transcripts, standardized tests, more advanced studies, and university in the near distance. I cannot count the amount of wide-eyes I receive when I tell people Liam we are continuing to homeschool next year. “Are you sure you can handle it?” they ask. And the short answer is no. I’m not sure at all.
I am certain that I’ve never been sure though. It is easy for me to feel confident now about our choice to homeschool, to reflect on the beginning years in the context of today, but I felt anything but confident then. I felt curious, idealistic, passionate, motivated, but never certain about our decision. The irregular days of babies and toddlers in the mix, the tears through math, the lack of concrete proof that we had actually accomplished anything at all in those first years was on some days enough to want to quit, to label homeschooling a failed venture and move on. But somehow––miraculously––I never did. I took breaks, tweaked approaches, asked for help, researched weak areas, talked with the kids, but I always got back up and tried again.
I have been reading Grit: The Power and Passion of Perseverance this month––a book I highly recommend to anyone, especially parents, entrepreneurs, homeschooling parents and teens––jotting down timely encouragements and challenging lines I’ve needed to hear in many areas of life right now. But this one in particular struck me yesterday, “Nobody wants to show you the hours and hours of becoming. They’d rather show the highlight of what they’ve become.” I realize as the online homeschooling community grows and more resources are made available remotely, it is these hours spent becoming that are most often lost. Even for newer homeschoolers reading this blog filled with highlights, it would be natural to miss the life between the lines, the hours expended in working through hard circumstances or questions, the hours spent becoming.
I have always honestly described homeschooling as the hardest and most rewarding thing I have ever done. And it’s true. It is not hard in every moment or even in a way that might seem like drudgery; there are so many cumulative and deeply satisfying moments of discovery, contentment, accomplishment, and pure joy. There are also many logistical aspects that have eased up with time as our family has grown older. What I mean by hard is that it is a journey that requires continual study of your children and home. It requires you to pay attention, to consistently problem solve and initiate honest conversations. It is hard because you regularly encounter your shortcomings, whether academic, character, financial, energy, or time. It is hard because you have to choose this path again and again. But these moments are the hours of becoming, the hours not always recorded on Instagram, editorials, or this blog. They are the unwritten parts that have intrinsically formed who I am. These hours are rewarding because they are hard, because I have fought for them again and again.
I truly don’t exactly know what the next year will look like for our home as we walk down this path. Our children love homeschooling. They are eager to do it again, and so again, I am stepping forward in courage. The boys will both be in Challenge programs with Classical Conversations, and we’ll build from there. I’m still not exactly sure what I’m doing with the girls. I’m patiently listening and talking with the girls, thumbing our bookshelves, and researching right now. It will come.
What I hope to say in all of these thoughts here is this: it is not the easy paths that form us. They delight us. They enchant us. They are rest for us. But they do not form us. We are formed by what and how we endure, by the amount of times we fall and get up, by the way we help and receive help from others along the way. This part of homeschooling––or living!––isn’t always beautiful in the ways we want it to be, but it is beautiful. And purposeful. Whether in homeschooling, business, family life, health, or in whatever endeavor you find yourself working toward––keep going, friends. These are the hours we are becoming.
This was such a beautiful and encouraging post! It’s so true. It’s in those hard moments, when its so easy to give up or go the other way, that we become. Thank you for sharing this!
We are going to be in many different places this year with homeschooling/schooling. My son is starting high school this year, and since he never did flourish in the two years I’ve been homeschooling, he is going to attend a Christian private school this year. My next daughter loves homeschool and my next one missed all the friends and activities and art projects, so I am sending her back to public school this year to give it another try. I just don’t want her to be miserable, and I feel not every child is cut out to be schooled at home. My 4-year-old is signed up with Classical Conversations with my older daughter, so I have two this year that I’m teaching. I’m excited for the year! And feel like I can get a good handle on two kids and not be as overwhelmed as I was last year. You’re my hero for doing high school as well!! And four of them!
This is such an encouraging post and so true. We are still in the early years so it’s hard to see the big picture sometimes but this helps a lot.
Thank you so much for this! I am going on my 8th year of homeschooling and I still get stressed out at the beginning of each new year. There are so many things I love about homeschooling and how it suits our family but there are so many hard things to about it and I have wanted to quit so many times, but each year we plug away and figure it out. You are right, it’s not the easy things that form us, and homeschooling has been anything but easy for me. I think mostly God wants us to homeschool to stretch me! Ha! I so appreciate your encouragement! xoxo
Oh Bethany – I’m late to this post but I just found it to be so encouraging. We’re still in the early years and I’ve found myself in want of a plan – a structure, a process – because it all feels so daunting and overwhelming and Bee is at the sponge age and what if I’m missing an opportunity here? But I’m also feeling pulled to rest. To enjoy and bring light to the learning experience, and in that regard, I haven’t yet chosen a curriculum or anything of the sort. I suppose what I’m saying is that we’re still becoming right alongside of you, and everyone else. Thank you for being a strong voice of guidance and support for the rest of us. :)
Beautifully written. Yes, it is easy to give up when the going gets tough, be it business, work or anything and you highlighted rightly the importance of those hours of becoming. Thank you for writing these words.
Thank you Bethany for sharing your thoughtful words as always. I can absolutely apply this both to my personal ongoing life journey, and with homeschooling. Much appreciated!
Oh Bethany, that quote is everything. I have felt very much the same way. I do feel as though blogs did a better job conveying the trials – along with the triumphs – of homeschooling. As people desire shorter and shorter soundbytes to obtain information, the picture becomes more and more skewed. I understand – IG is my highlights reel too, and not my bedside journal. But I feel like I am becoming more and more overwhelmed by the consumeristic feel of not only being bombarded by images but also ‘stuff’. Also I know of many non-homeschoolers who now think homeschooling is just rainbows and unicorns, all read alouds and nature journals. But it’s hard work. It’s beautiful and rich and lovely but also so hard.
Oh man I love that phrase so much! “The hours of becoming.” Thank you for sharing that!
It sure does feel more romantic, doesn’t it? Knowing our hours are working toward something greater, making us somehow a better version of ourselves? I completely agree, Anne.
Thank you for these thoughts. Such an encouragement in the slow moments of parenting x
You’re welcome, Miranda. We all need encouragement that these seemingly small, repetitious hours have purpose. Cheers to you and yours! x
Oh this is so good. Just what I have been contemplating. The hidden process of becoming. Those tucked away times – moments, days and months that add up to the unfolding of our children’s growth – like the unfurling of a daffodil that has been buried in deep rich soil. Love your writing Bethany.
Thank you, Barbara! And yes, I adore the word and image of unfurling. I think that’s exactly what motherhood has gifted me, a revelation of God, time, people (especially my children), and self. Best to you. x
Bethany, as always, you my friend are a breath of fresh air. May your family journey be richly blessed this year.
Thank you for your encouragement and blessing, my friend. I know it springs from kindred places. x
I Never comment. But, thank you so much for this!
Thank you, Heather! I know it can be awkward to send notes into the void, but your words mean much.
Being homeschooled in high school was the best part of my homeschool days.
I didn’t realize you were homeschooled! This is music to my ears, Danielle. Such an encouragement. xo
I am laying in bed awaiting the birth of our 5th baby. This will be our 6th year homeschooling and we are heading into middle school homeschool with my oldest. Thank you for your quiet encouragement and wisdom. The was exactly what I needed to read today.
Grace to you in these upcoming days especially, Timshel. What a beautiful transition is happening in your home, a change of terrain for your days. What a delight!
I am holding my two day old baby girl in my arms right now. Just wanted to stop and say thank you for your words. These are the hours of becoming, that’s so comforting to hear!
How precious, Kira. Those first days are exhausting and sweet. Grace to you in all the new transitions, in your becoming, and hers. x