There are a few online chat thingees that I’ve signed up for. I browse them once in a while, interested in the questions posed and the commenters that try to help or answer or advise. I’m struck, often, by how public we’ve become. How much more open we are now, about our parenting, our choices, our lives, than we have been in the past. It’s kinda cool, and it’s kinda creepy at the same time.

Mainly it’s cool.

So, I’m reading a homeschooling Facebook page for a group that I’ve joined. It’s interesting, because it’s membership is not based on ideology or religion or homeschooling style, but on geography. Which makes for a diverse group and some interesting conversations. I admit I mostly lurk, but in an interested, you go girl, kind of way.

Yesterday, though, I was troubled. Here’s the skinny.

A woman posed a problem/question to the group. She described herself as the mom of two children of  young elementary school age, and a couple of babes. She was homeschooling the two older children and was frustrated with how things were going. The children wouldn’t do the work she assigned, wouldn’t come sit at the table when asked, and the home was full of tension and anger and frustration. She was asking the group for suggestions and indicated she wondered if it would be better to just send the older kids to school where teachers could deal with them educationally, and she could be just a mom and have some peace in her home.

This was the jist of it, anyway, as I understood it.

And lovely homeschooling moms offered lovely advice.

Evaluate the curriculum you are using to see if there might be a better fit for you.

Try X curriculum.

Try unschooling, it saved our family!

Be consistent.

Take breaks.

Be gentle.

Be tough.

And to each suggestion offered, the mom would respond in a defeated way. Either she’d tried it, or was already doing it, or she didn’t think it would help.

Really, I think, she was seeking permission to send her kids to school.

And if she makes that decision, then, you know, you go girl!

What bothers me about this whole conversation though, is the fact that it’s still September. She’s only been doing this a few weeks, and she’s ready to give it all up. And I just want to whisper to her, as gently as I know how,

ARE YOU CRAZY?!

I mean, really, did you think it would be easy? Did you think it would be pie-in-the-sky, pollyanna every day, sunshine and rainbows?

I actually laughed out loud when I read the comment one mom left in response to desperate mom’s question. (Bad, I know.) I don’t know most of these women personally, mind. What I know about them comes mainly from the chatting that takes place online. And the impression I’d had of the mom leaving the comment was that she was experienced and active in homeschooling her children. Because she was on the page a lot, had lots to say, and offered lots of advice.

Anyhoo, she responds to the question by relating that she, too, is struggling in similar ways with her oldest child and that she had in fact already contacted the school about enrolling him. Oh, and he was in grade one.

Grade one!

This woman has spent more time reading about homeschooling and planning to homeschool and choosing curriculum than she’s actually spent doing it!

I’m not a militant homeschooling mom. I don’t think it’s for everybody. I support whatever education decisions you make for your children. But whatever the decisions are, know that there will be hard stuff. Whether you choose traditional school or some version of homeschool, it is not sweetness and light all the time.

It’s hard and it’s wonderful and it’s hard.

And whether you are the mom of schooled children or homeschooled children, the answers to the hard times are (usually) internal. I mean, diet or curriculum choice or whatever can all be factors, but the bottom line is that it’s not (usually) about what you do, it’s about who you are. It’s relationship. Always, always, always.

Always.

So from one mommy to another, hang in there. Make the choices you need to make, celebrate the wonder of being a parent, but accept as well the hard stuff that goes along with it. Ford the rivers, climb the mountains, slay the dragons. Work it through. Work it out.

It’s worth it.

Really.

You, and your children, will be stronger for it.

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