HomeBound (Part 1 of 2)

Homeschool: a
seemingly innocuous word with the power to strike terror in any God-fearing,
tuition or tax-paying parent’s heart. Including my own. Educating my child—it’s just so unnatural,
I thought. Sure, full-skirted mothers learned their youngins’ for hundreds of
years in cozy log cabins, with slates and primers and such…but these days,
well, most of us moms send those rugrats yonder to the blessed schoolhouse and
buy us some peace, if you know what I
mean.
All joking aside…let’s be honest: not every parent is cut out to
take on their children’s education, and we are eternally thankful for our
schools. For those called, trained individuals who come alongside us parents as
we train up our children, partnering with us in blessing them with the
knowledge, study and life skills that will help to carry them forward into this
world.   
The day it dawned on me that this utter impossibility–home
educationwas God’s 85-day forecast
for me and my 8-year-old daughter was a humbling one, indeed. Not to mention
terrifying and dread-inspiring. It was to be just a semester, but those few
months seemed at the outset an e–t—e—r—–n——i——-t——–y.
My strong-willed one and I needed a serious relationship
intervention. Having fought and begged and worn myself out in all the trying to
reign in her iron resolve from the time she was eighteen months old, I was
spent. My mama’s heart was weary, and in its depths, I believe I had resigned
myself to, well, relational resignation,
riddled with latent resentment toward my firstborn. I felt like I was losing
her as a result…at eight years old.
My heart crushed under the burden of knowing she wouldn’t talk to me. Didn’t
confide in me. Believed I didn’t like her and didn’t like me either, quite frankly.
Worse still, thought she was a disappointment.
We were hemorrhaging for something,
and I couldn’t ignore it. It came down
to eternity for us, folks.
And in light of eternity, inconveniencing myself
for a time, giving up to the wind the freedom and peace our kids’ private
Christian school afforded me, to venture into the uncharted waters of
homeschooling seemed like a small price to pay…to throw our flailing
relationship a buoy. 
Nonetheless, it was a calling I would have preferred to ignore (believe me, I
tried), if not for its amplitude, voracity, and clarity. The urgency that accompanied it took my breath away. Lord, I pleaded, HOW?!?!?! It’s October! How
can I possibly learn everything I need to know to even
decently educate my daughter in two month’s time?  I laugh now, recalling God’s classic retort to
the cavernous doubt characterizing most of us when faced with the INsurmountable: You can’t. I AM.
In retrospect, I see I was over-complicating (humanizing) a
situation with His holy handprints all over it. But in that moment, with my toes curled over the edge of the
terrifying precipice of surrender, one painfully averse to change, I was quaking. My temperament doesn’t ooze
patience, and the introvert in me necessitates peace and quiet like oxygen. To
illustrate, summer break has classically intimidated this mama, with survival
my ultimate goal. It would threaten in early spring like a far-off storm cloud,
and roll in steadily, gaining momentum with every passing week. The thought of
all that together time made my skin crawl. So you can imagine how terrifying
was the prospect of filling my days with my wild stallion of a daughter.
THIS, I demanded
on that precipice, as a sort of desperate condition, spoken from a place of
confidence-depletion, is going to have to
be ALL YOU, Lord.
Never before had I been forced to cling so fiercely to my
Savior; it was a sweet thing, that surrender, albeit frightening.  Because
that’s just where He wanted me. 100% incapable, grafted to Him: my Lifeline.
Because that’s when He can do His best work, unfettered by pesky meddlers,
trying to yank back control, in some futile tug-of-war.
After uttering that chilling “Yes”, and despite deep down, full
faith that God would, indeed, carry me, I spent many a sleepless dawn wondering
(worrying) just how on this green
earth I would pull this off. A monumental undertaking. An anxiety-inducing
endeavor, bringing my third grader home to do the job myself. The stark
realities of my decision to homeschool threatened to completely snow me in
inside my own mind, fears swirling, suffocating hope, conspiring to talk me out
of it.
Well, the fact was, I wouldn’t be pulling anything (but my own hair). Over and
over again throughout the semester, I had to consciously jump in the backseat
and let the MASTER drive. This thing
I always said I would never—could never—do: HOMESCHOOLING, is exactly where
God, in His infinite wisdom, placed me, with the daughter who is like night to
my day–our differences daunting. He knew just exactly what Lily and I needed.
And He was faithful, early on, to supply me with glimmers of
hope: one being Lily’s elation when
my husband and I broke the news to her…it was just the encouragement I needed,
and in fact, our relational dynamic began to shift right then. As if my “Yes”
was proof of my devotion to her: that I loved her fiercely. Proof that I would
FIGHT for her, even to this extent. That moment blessed my heart—balm for the
ache.
Once in the throes of our homeschooling voyage,
teacher/mother and student/ daughter tossing back and forth on the tumultuous
waters of change and searching for some measure of calm as we adjusted, some
days I wondered just what the heck I was thinking back then. Cushioned
luxuriously in the wider margins of my former days with both children in
traditional school, I had no clue, really, what this lifestyle change would
entail.
To those mamas-of-six, superwoman, multi-tasking-mastermind
types, biting off educating a solitary third grader for one semester might seem
like child’s play. But for me, a routine-loving, change-hating introvert with a
penchant for the control group, it was a BIGGIE. Schedule-altering,
mind-blowing, mentally and physically exhausting like nothing else: I gained
weight. Cultivated pimples. Cried my tear ducts dry. The little spare time I
had previously maintained as a busy mom and wife completely vanished last
semester…margin was but a memory.
Some days, there were tears at every turn. I felt engulfed.
The nasty, slimy things teaching my daughter brought out of the depths of me
and into the daylight were ugly. At
times I looked at my daughter, the one God blessed my life with 8 years ago,
and I filled with fury. The red, hot, tinder-box-type, capable of leveling
whole forests with one fated tongue spark.
And I ached within at my own weakness; my embarrassingly low
threshold. I held frail hands open in those hopeless moments, breathing
prayers, desperately requiring my Creator’s touch. And He was faithful to
surround me: smoothing my hair, breathing strength reserves into my weary
heart, enabling me to reset, and teach.
He makes all things new. If ever I learned–lived this invaluable truth, it was
during our homeschooling season. This was my constant prayer for our broken
relationship. And He did breathe new
life…I watched Him in amazement.

Me and my girl…
(Watch later this week
for HomeBound (Part 2 of 2): Things
I Learned Along the Homeschooling Way.)

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