Tomorrow I'm meeting with a young mother of five to discuss how exactly I homeschool. Since homeschooling is a way of life, her real question is...how do you live everyday?
Her oldest, age 6, is a first grader this year and she also has 5-year-old twins, a 3 year old, and a 2-month-old baby. This is a dear family we know from AWANA.
She's making us lunch...my kids and me.
Did you get that part? She's making us lunch, despite having a 2-month-old baby, a preschooler, twins and a first grader. Okay, the 3-year-old and the twins do go to preschool, but still. When I had a 2-month-old baby, a 2 year old, a 5 year old and a 7 year old, I was barely making my own children lunch, much less for 5 guests.
I'm nervous because in many respects this mother has more going for her than I do. She was homeschooled herself and she grew up in a Christian home. She married "on time" and started a family early. She has in-laws around for support and possibly her own family too.
Me? I didn't get married until I was 33 years old. I grew up in a broken, dysfunctional, non-Christian home and it took my getting saved at age 31 for that dysfunctional baggage to began to fall off. I feel like we're raising our children entirely by ourselves. We haven't been on a date in four years now because there's no one to take over. I regularly take four children to doctor's appointments...I've even taken them to my own doctor's appointments.
My self-esteem will never be stellar because there are definite self-esteem consequences to growing up around unacknowledged sin and dysfunction. I have to frequently remind myself of who I am in Christ...because no matter how one grows up, if we don't know who we are in Christ, we're bankrupt.
When I say dysfunctional home I know many of you are thinking...don't we all grow up in dysfunctional homes? Well, yes, in the sense that we are all sinners. But when parents divorce that brings deep-down pain and low self-confidence. If any kind of substance addiction exists in a home, that brings dysfunctional relationships with ingrained patterns that don't melt away when a child leaves home.
There are many forms of family dysfunction, including living with parents who never praise, who verbally abuse, who live through their children and micromanage them for their own glory, or who spend their lives at work and ignore their children.
The possibilities are many, but I still perceive that I grew up with more dysfunction than this sweet lady who tomorrow thinks I have some wisdom to impart.
I'm sitting here writing tonight, praying God will give me something to share before noon tomorrow.
So...here goes. A trial run?
The Sum of my Wisdom at Age 47
~ Children are a blessing from the Lord. Have as many as He'll give you. I mean that.
~ Lots of children running around will make you crazy. That daily craziness will drive you, desperate and humble, right into your Father's arms, where you always belonged anyway.
~ Pray your way through. There will be darkness and prayer is your light.
~ God has a plan for each child's life. Don't mess with that. Keep your own fears and desires in check, remembering that this parenting thing is for God's glory, not your own.
~ If you can't put a check on your own daily desires, you'll fail miserably as a mother and teacher. Ask God to help you write a schedule. He has an agenda for you and if you listen to Him, you'll know peace.
~ No matter what craziness happens in a single day, don't neglect their hearts. The school books are never as important as the Bible and prayer. When an issue comes up, make time to explain where God stands on the issue.
~ Don't neglect your own heart. Read your Bible.
~ If one child reads at age 4, and another at age 6, and yet another struggles until 8 years old, don't sweat it. It's all good. Don't compare or despair because God has a plan.
~ Spend full days at home regularly. Home with the family is the best classroom and the relationships there are the best teacher.
~ Do something for someone else, besides your family. Don't let your children see you ignoring real needs.
~ You need very few material things. Learn the meaning of the word need. Purge what you don't need and live in freedom.
~ Cuddle with your children daily and pray for them while you do...for their todays and their tomorrows. For the boo boo they got today, for the husband/wife they'll love tomorrow.
~ Your house will almost always be messy. On occasion when every room is neat on the same day, don't expect it to last. I repeat: your house will almost always be messy. A schedule of chores will help, but remember that your house doesn't define you.
~ You are precious to the Father and He loves you just the way you are. Rejoice in that love. Really know it and rejoice in it. Bathe in His Word to remind yourself of this truth.
~ When your children grow up and you pass away, what is the one sentence you want them to say in summary of who you were?
My mother loved the Lord with all her heart.
If you get this last one right, none of the others matter.