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Letter from an Imperfect Homeschooler

sometimes, we can find beauty in imperfection.

sometimes, we can find beauty in imperfection.

It must be that time of year, because I’ve gotten several emails in the last couple of weeks from stressed out, burned out homeschool moms. And what is the question I get over and over?

“How do you do it?”

Simple enough question, right? But let’s look at what that question isn’t saying. It’s implying:

You appear to have it all together. I don’t have anything together.
You appear composed and well-adjusted. I feel frazzled and stressed out.
You know something I don’t know.

The truth is that the blogosphere can be both a blessing and a curse. It is a blessing in so many ways. How else could we have a glimpse into what can otherwise be only an intimate family setting? When homeschool bloggers share their lives and their days, it can inspire us, teach us, motivate us and give us ideas to which we would otherwise never see.

But I ask my other homeschool mom colleagues – what are you projecting into the blogosphere?

It’s easy to share the successes and triumphs in our homeschool days. We have been conditioned to speak positively, think positively and always put our best foot forward. This is, inherently, a Good Thing. But it doesn’t always reflect our realities.

The truth is neither you nor I always have it together.
We both have moments of feeling frazzled and stressed out.
We both think someone else knows more than we know.
We both think some other mom is doing a better job than we are, and we feel inferior.
And some days we all feel defeated.

But very few of us share those ugly moments with the blogosphere. And that leads some of our readers to feel like they must be the only homeschool parent who is burned out, stressed out, a little disorganized or still learning what works best for their children and for their families.

Be careful what image you project into the blogosphere.

Of course no one wants to read a blog that talks day in and day out about failures, frustrations and hurdles. But it is a disservice to the homeschool community if we project perfection. Our goal, as a community, should be to lift each other up, rally around each other… even in spite of, or perhaps because of, our imperfections.

Many of us are trying so hard to prove that homeschool is not only a viable option, but a worthy option, for educating our children that our protective defenses won’t allow us to admit that our homeschools are imperfect. But they are. Don’t mistake imperfection for unworthyness. My own k12 experience is a sieve. I graduated with gaps and holes. Yet, somehow I managed to grow into a wife and mom and writer and graphic designer and reader and… you get the point. My parents paid good money for my private education – my imperfect private education. The public schools? Anyone who watches the news knows America’s public schools are imperfect. And perhaps this is a news flash, but homeschool is imperfect, too.

Don’t rake me across the coals for saying what the whole world knows. Your children will graduate from homeschool with gaps. Private school children will graduate from school with gaps. Public school children will graduate with gaps. So if we all know this is true, we can stop projecting perfection and start finding ways to help support the moms who are feeling disorganized, frazzled and inferior. There is strength in numbers. The fewer of us who throw in the towel during our homeschool experience and allow defeat, the stronger our forces will be. Once we are recognized as a worthy and viable education option, fewer of us will have to try so hard to prove it.

So, to all the stressed out imperfect homeschool moms out there – let me end with this:
You are worthy.
You are giving your children a viable and valuable education.
In spite of, and perhaps because of, your imperfections, your children will graduate. They will find jobs. They will have families.

And most of them will find success in whatever way that success is defined for them.

Many blessings in your imperfect journey,
Darcy

{ This post was originally written in March, but reprinted here by request. Yeah. I needed to read it again too. xoxoxo -Darcy }

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Comments

  1. I loved this when you originally posted it ~ and I love it now.

  2. God so knew I needed to hear this from someone &, Darcy, you are the ideal person to tell it like it needs to be told. I love you for that. Thanks so much for this beautiful bit of uplift. ((hugs))

  3. Amen! Yes, we all need to hear this from time to time. We are gapped, but we trod on for a higher cause! (Sorry…I got carried away there for a minute.)

    I too loved this post the first time you posted it and I too love it now.

    Thanks! :)

  4. Amen and amen, sista.

  5. Amen! (Standing and clapping) I really needed to here this now. You are a blessing.

  6. Oh yes! I needed this today. I just may quote you.
    It’s always good to be reminded of the big picture.
    THanks!

  7. “The fewer of us who throw in the towel during our homeschool experience and allow defeat, the stronger our forces will be. Once we are recognized as a worthy and viable education option, fewer of us will have to try so hard to prove it.”
    Very well put. We briefly tried homeschooling before this year TWICE. I felt both times that I was not the “right kind” of mom (ie. patience of Michelle Duggar) and that my children would miss something. I had no support from anyone but my husband, and both times I quickly sent my kids back to public school in defeat.

    Every mention of homeschooling on t.v., email from a list I signed up for on a homeschool mailing list made me feel guilty. After another year of seeing how my very bright children who succeed in reading and writing were falling behind in Math, I read an article in The Christian Woman magazine, about a church of Christ camp for homeschooling families. I am familiar with a few families who attend, and I discussed it once again with my husband. We prayed about it, and every instance where we came up with an “I can’t”, the Lord showed us we could.

    It has been a change in our house to say the least. Every day is not perfect, or always the warm and fuzzy pictures that come to mind when homeschooling. What I can say is this: I love my children and want the very best for them, spiritually, and educationally, and who can better give them both than their parents? If my husband and I follow the Lord, I pray they will follow as well.

    I was trying to prove that homeschooling was worthy to everyone around me. I was so afraid of failure that I quit. The realization I made before homeschooling this time was that the only one I have to please is God. I will train these children for Him. He is the only reason I have them in the first place.
    Thanks so much for reposting your blog, I missed it the first time!

  8. That was wonderfully worded! It is definitely the time of year when we all need a little pep-talk to keep us going. I was really feeling that burnout today! Reading this post did help. Thank you!

  9. I agree with you about the imperfection of all types of education.
    I’m guilty as charged. I really don’t like sharing the negatives of HSing on my blog. Of course the negatives exist, and I’m glad to share them face to face, but I fear putting them on a public blog may somehow harm my child’s future or be fodder for attacks on HSing in general. I think there has to be wisdom in how much negative to share.

    • Excellent point, Jimmie. Knowing how to respectfully and judiciously share our tough days is certainly a judgement call.

      Public and private school teachers certainly have their fair share of “those days.” But it’s not likely those teachers would write about it in a blog for fear of parent backlash. But just because they don’t share them, doesn’t mean they don’t happen.

      Perhaps homeschoolers need only to remember that – teachers (regardless of where they teach) will always do their best to “paint with light.”

  10. I missed this post the first time around, thanks for reposting it! This has put some perk in my step for continuing our journey! Thank you!!!

  11. ah, yup. and amen. that’s good preachin’

  12. We do the best we have with what we have given. Thanks for sharing the whole truth about homeschooling. It is a gentle reminder that homeschooling is a life-long journey for all of us involved.

  13. Is it going too far to say “I love you”? ;-)
    I’ve felt very convicted of “image-promoting” over the past few weeks. I was trying to think positively, keep the smile on so the shadows would fall behind me, show the successes and “defend” my position. So, when I did get a little braver and post some struggles, I received several emails that literally said, “wow, you seem perfect. I had no idea you would be dealing with this.” Ow. I’ve been almost deceptive in my attempt to protect our education choice. Yes, my kids do well, and we enjoy it. No, it is not always easy or “perfect.” We get discouraged, frustrated, and tired like everyone else. We have good days and bad days, like every other school, student, and teacher.
    It’s sad that we/I feel such a need to “protect our challenges” from the world. Blame falls both places: the world needs to back-off. And we need to stand up and show the “real” us and help the other “real” moms and dads out there who are struggling with the same issues.

  14. Yes, great post. I love all imperfect things. They leave a space for fantasy, don’t they?
    Warm greetings,
    Sybille

  15. What a great post! Thank you for reminding us all of this and I think it is not only true of homeschool but of mothering and womanhood in general. We tend to think everyone else has it together but us when in fact we are all struggling with many of the same issues, we are just afraid to share and open up. Bless you for reminding us to be more open. It will help others, but just as much it will help ourselves.

  16. I am so glad you re-posted this, for I didn’t know you back when you originally posted it.

    So well-said, Darcy. I’ve often wished that I hadn’t stopped homeschooling my kids when I did. Perhaps if I’d had the support that the blogosphere offers y’all today, I would have stuck with it. But perhaps not.

    In any event, your words are true for any of us. We send our kids to private school, and we can become discouraged that there are gaps in their education. But that’s true no matter what. Homeschooling is one of the best educational options available, but it’s not perfect. Private schooling is one of the best educational options available, but it’s not perfect, either.

    It is way too easy as a blogger to post carefully edited pictures, projecting an illusion of perfection. And you’re right: it’s easy as a reader to forget that the pictures have been carefully edited. And to be discouraged rather than encouraged.

    Thank you, thank you for these wise words–not just to homeschoolers, but to all of us. You rock.

  17. I am glad you reposted this!

  18. You do amaze me, as a HS mom! I’ve learned a lot just from talking to you, and I am not a HS mom! We take what we need from those who inspire us, those who “see the light”, and run with it. It turns us into the parents/teachers/people we are destined to be. Althought I don’t homeschool, there’s a lot of teaching going on at my home! This is a great post!! Thanks Darc!!!

  19. Thank you for reposting this message. I don’t feel quite so bad about skipping chemistry for the last 3 weeks. Instead, my kids have traveled to five different states, have explored subjects that didn’t quite fit with the curriculum we planned in September, and have made weekend trips to explore college opportunities. My daughter graduates this year. Despite our lack of perfection, I think she’ll be just fine.

  20. Excellent post. Thank you.

  21. Thank you for sharing Darcy and for reminding me there may be gaps, but my children can still turn out just fine.

  22. Darcy, you’re blessing many moms with this post. It cannot be said enough: you don’t have to be perfect to homeschool your kids! We have three homeschool grads, and I’m happy to say none of them are perfect, but they’re all doing fine.

    May God bless you on your homeschooling journey!

    Barbara Frank
    Author of The Imperfect Homeschooler’s Guide to Homeschooling

  23. I’m of the opinion that everything that involves humans, however well-intentioned, is going to be imperfect. An undeniable fact, yes, but not something that should keep us from pursuing what we feel is right for our families.

    My child is in public school, but has the unique experience of having a grandparent teach at his school. We don’t depend on his time in the classroom to do all the educating. His education started at home with me and his Dad (also his grandparents, etc.) and I believe in it continuing at home even though he attends classes in a public setting. It’s something that works for us but if I decided that he would be better off at home there would be no hesitation from the Hubs or myself to begin homeschooling……plus I would know just the place to get support! *nudge, nudge, hint, hint* ;o)

  24. I’m not going to lie……some days the home schooling a medically fragile child with special needs kicks. my. butt.

    Severely.

    Then there are the surgeries where he spends days and days in the hospital and the regression that comes from that.

    The planning. The therapies along with the learning. Having to create my own units for Parker, geared to his own learning style. I can’t simply go and just purchase a curriculum. With Parker I have to break each task down into min-tasks.

    I don’t know many people who homeschool a non-verbal child. Especially one that is medically fragile.

    But I know that schooling at home is the very best thing for our Brave Hero.

  25. I just saw this post on the nest files and I am so glad I clicked over and read. I am a homeschool mom of 3. This is our first year and I am definitely not perfect at this. But boy, were you right about keeping defeses high so as not to show anyone our imperfections. I want to prove to the world that we are not crazy…Why? Maybe in my vulerability and stumbling is the testimony that someone needs to give them courage to do the “crazy” thing the Lord is asking them. So again I am laying all pride at the feet of Him who knows better than anyone what it is to be ridiculed…all the time knowing of what kingdom He is from and what His purpose is.
    The Lord just wants obedience. The rest of is all Him (thank goodness.) The reminder is much appreciated:)

  26. I saw you letter on HOTM Online and I appreciated reading it, but I have a few thoughts {I share this on my blog, but I will highlight my main points}

    As far as being REAL on the homeschooling front, it is far more effective for ME to blog about the good things we do. I want to look back and remember what we accomplished that was GOOD. We should not dwell on the bad and ugly. Only the good.

    “Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honorable, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things!” Phillipians 4:8

    Furthermore, It SHOULDN’T matter what anyone else is doing on their blog if my true acceptance comes from Him. All the super homeschoolers out there don’t make me less worthy as a homeschooler. I am where I am. I am content with where He has me. I see great ideas and great blogs out there ~ and I am HAPPY for them that they are such a great photographer, mommy, homeschooler, blog designer, etc. etc. I truly strive to be happy for others and not see their strengths as my weaknesses. We ALL have strengths and weaknesses.

    If we feel less than par when we read someone else’s blog, then we have work to do. And I don’t mean produce more interesting content so we will feel up to par. We have spiritual work to do. We need to find our worth in God.

    ~Michelle

  27. Love this! the first time I posted about how much I felt I screwed up our homeschool, I was really uneasy about it. But I got a terrific response and someone even re-posted it on their blog, where more moms chimed in and said, “I feel this way, too!” Sometimes I think I’m too honest, and I’ll read other blogs and think why can’t I be more like this person, or that person? Then I realized, I just have to be myself, and people will either like me or they won’t. Simple, but hard to remember sometimes when I feel like “myself” isn’t quite enough.

    Of course there are lots of things I don’t share because it would embarrass my kids!

    One more thing, I heard someone say at a meeting last year that every homeschool parent they met thought they weren’t teaching their kids enough, but that God seemed to bless their efforts because their kids all ended up doing just fine. Whew. Good to know!

  28. Thank you for reposting as I’m new to reading this blog. I found it on Rose’s blog (can’t remember what it’s called) and I was very pleased to note that I am not the only one scared of failing (thank you, commentators!). I begin homeschooling my two special needs boys at the end of this week. My son’s 2nd grade teacher is hosting a party for my son to say “goodbye to us and hello to homeschool.” She was really supportive of my choice, which surprised me! And not because she doesn’t love Brandon… school personnel all love him. Just that, as she said, “I know you prayed about this and are God-led. Therefore, you must do it. It really will be better for Brandon and that’s what we all want: the best for him.” Wasn’t that nice?

    Anyway… it’s nice to know that I will mess up. I will be imperfect. But that’s acceptable and I just need to dwell on what I do well and trust in God to help me do the rest! Thank you… thank you… thank you… thank you!

  29. You’re a homeschooler, too?? I just commented on your WordPress post. Then I saw this one. So, you homeschool, blog, AND run a design site. *wheels turning* Amazing. Inspiring, too. I think I’ll stay a while. ;)

  30. Hey Darcy, I’ve been following your blog for sometime, and I am just now getting brave enough to leave a comment. Shy yes, but wanted to finally say hi. Love this post. Thank you for sharing and re posting it for us newcomers.

  31. Kristi @ The Thrifty Gypsy says:

    I’m so glad I read this today! I’m homeschooling one of my 9 yr old (he’s a twin) he has PDD (which is basically high functioning autism) since January. His school placement was less than desired! Sometimes I feel like I’m not doing enough (and sometimes I don’t!!!) but he is LEARNING, happy and safe. What more could I ask for? Now his twin brother (typically developing aka no diagnosis, lol) came home yesterday and wants to me homeschooled as well. He misses us and I miss him too! I might take on the challenge of both, but they will also attend a private school a couple days a week ( they have a homeschool program). I have a 20 month old who makes homeschooling VERY interesting, LOL! :)
    Kristi

  32. I just found this via HBLN on facebook. I would like to post it on my blog in the next week or so I would of course link to you and put an info blurb at the bottom.
    .-= Larissa Q´s last blog ..My internal jukebox =-.

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