It happens every year. For the homeschool mother of young children and teens, there is often a silent, steady build-up of anxiety, like the watched pot that never boils. Only it eventually does boil and that mama spills over the edge of her pot, with all her feelings of failure and her overwhelming list of to-dos that remain undone. I can’t do this. I’m failing. What time does that yellow bus drive by?
February is often referred to as “homeschool burnout month.” Have you felt it? (And for that matter, I’m not sure this applies only to homeschoolers. There’s plenty of anxiety to go around for moms and even women in general. The gray days do much to add to the feelings of want, I’d venture to say.) I’ve certainly felt it on numerous occasions, but I’m just not sure it must always be this way. There are plenty of articles on blogs and homeschooling websites with helpful encouragement and practical suggestions for coping and pushing through, (ahem, like Julie does here. Read it.) so I’m not sure that I have anything new to add. The truth is, we’re all so very different. The needs and dynamics of our families are constantly changing. It’s exhausting. And there isn’t necessarily an easy formula for success. What is success, anyway? And who decides if you’ve achieved it?
Over our Christmas break, I was thoroughly blessed by a study from Sarah Mackenzie at Amongst Lovely Things on the subject of Teaching from Rest. What struck me most profoundly was the fact that this business of running a household and being a parent and being responsible for the education of my children is seriously holy work. Within the often seemingly chaotic atmosphere of our days at home are hundreds of opportunities to model grace and gratefulness. If we’re honest with ourselves about whose stamp of approval really matters, then we have permission to truly leave our concerns at his feet. He knows. He cares. I love the idea that after we ask God to use us and help us fulfill his purpose, we can look at every little hiccup and every little setback as an answer to those prayers. We are free to see those frustrations, not as hindrances to what we’re trying to accomplish, but as opportunities to extend to our children the grace that’s been given to us. What a difference that change in perspective could make.