I was privileged to spend a few hours today with mothers of very young children. Those with four years or less under their belts, still excited and yet exhausted by the day in and day out of caring for little people who can’t meet even the simplest of needs. It was a lovely time; if you ever start to feel jaded by the long haul, sit in the company of women just now discovering the beauty and the burden of being a stay at home mom, of raising her babies, of juggling marriage and faith and stealing a shower in between the newborn’s cat naps…all with a few little people clinging to her skirts.
As our collective began to break, I had two conversations that have stuck with me. One was with a mother who congratulated me on homeschooling my children. Like many people, she is sure she could never, but loves the idea. I assured her that 99% of those of us in the trenches were also pretty sure that we weren’t up to the calling, and that on any given day, at least 75% of us are sure that our initial instinct was right. I rattled off some resources, and asked her to contact me if she ever got curious.
The second conversation was with a two-and-a-half-year-old boy. Truthfully, I wish the first Momma had been in the room as he carefully pronounced “as-troo-naut” and told me about seeing one of the space shuttles on display. His eyes gleamed, and though I probably missed half of what he was saying, it was clear that he was recalling facts, and stories, and all kinds of good bits that he has gleaned through the very natural process of a mother taking her kids to the library, hitting a museum or two, pulling up a couple of “Cat in the Hat Knows A Lot About That” videos and talking, talking, talking.
In other words, he is homeschooled.
And really, I’d go out on a limb and say that 9 out of 10 mothers in that room are doing the same things. They are teaching their kids. They don’t necessarily think of it that way, because society has placed a big fence around learning and assured us that professionals only need apply. But what else do you call it when your preschooler asks what letters are in his name, and you tell him? What do you call it when you decide to go ahead and buy a little caterpillar kit to watch them turn into butterflies? Do you wait for a yellow bus to appear before you explain the seasons? Does it take someone with a degree to show your daughter how to count up the number of apples you need to slice for lunch?
You know it doesn’t. So what do you call it when you do all of those things, in the midst of living your life and loving your family?
You call it homeschooling. And, young mothers out there…you’re already doing it.