Following is a pretty lengthy post, but it was such a blessing to my heart as a homeschooling mom that I couldn’t wait to share it with you. To read these sentiments from a homeschool grad has been an unbelievable encouragement. I must admit to seeing in my mind’s eye (and through my teary eyes) my own children affirming much of what Jonathan wrote. My heart (and resolve) has been strengthened, and I pray that you, too, will find joy as you read today’s post. I think I may even print it out to read on those more difficult days when I feel completely inadequate for the task set ahead.
Have a wonderful day– doing all that you do!
Thank You, Mom
A tribute to homeschooling moms everywhere from a grateful homeschool graduate
By Jonathan Lewis, Homeschool Enrichment Magazine
I’m a homeschool graduate. That means I have a slightly different perspective on homeschooling than most of you. I’ve experienced home education from the other side of the desk, so to speak, witnessing the blessings it brings from a different angle. And I’ve seen that those blessings don’t come without sacrifice on the part of homeschooling moms.
I have a confession to make: I didn’t always make homeschooling easy for my mother. It’s true. Despite the fact that I’ve grown up to become a homeschool editor, writer, and speaker, the disgraceful fact is this: I wasn’t a perfect little student. I’m sure my long-suffering mother owes some of her gray hairs to her days of trying to teach Yours Truly the wonders of photosynthesis and the art of diagramming sentences.
Imparting knowledge isn’t always easy. Chiseling out character can be even harder. Raising the next generation with a sense of purpose and vision requires diligence and perseverance.
The way I see it, homeschooling moms are heroes. You haven’t fought on the beaches of Iwo Jima and Normandy, but you have fought the good fight of instilling faith and knowledge in the ignorant little sinners known as your children.
My mother began this battle nine weeks before the end of my first grade year. She continued to fight it through to my high school graduation (in reality, the battle began at birth and continued well beyond the day she handed me my diploma; however, it was during that span of time she could officially label herself as a homeschooling mom). If I could nominate her for a medal for bravery and valor, I would. Since I can’t, I’ll content myself with sharing my sincere and heartfelt thanks—not only to my own mother, but also to the rest of you brave souls still carrying on the fight.
Thank you for being willing to go against the flow for something you believed in. I know it wasn’t always easy standing against the pressure and criticism from others. Not everyone appreciated your dedication. Some even felt condemned by it, despite the fact that you never spoke a critical word to them. I know it wasn’t easy at family reunions when others spoke loftily of everything their children were accomplishing and all the opportunities they were enjoying at public school. I know you didn’t always feel competent or confident. I know it wasn’t easy when acquaintances at church used the tired old argument that we should be salt and light at school instead of being trained and nurtured in the ways of God at home. Thank you for being willing to stand against the tide of peer pressure and do what you believed was right regardless of public opinion.
Your convictions were never up for grabs. They were never negotiable, never for sale to the highest bidder. Let others say what they would; it didn’t matter. You had chosen your course, and you followed it with conviction from the first step to the last. You began well, and you completed the task you set out to accomplish. Starting is admirable; finishing is vital. Thank you for staying the course.
Thank you for being willing to give up the hours of your days to oversee our education even though there were a thousand other things you could have been doing with your time. After we had finished our assignments for the day and were happily riding bikes and playing basketball in the fresh air, you were still indoors finishing the details of the day. When we, as oblivious children, never gave a moment’s thought to the sacrifices you were making, you kept making them anyway. It didn’t matter if anyone noticed or not. You had a job to do, and you did it well. Thank you.
Thank you for being willing to give up your own life for the sake of your children. Thank you for putting your own plans on hold while we were growing up. Thank you for being willing to lay aside whatever other ambitions or hopes you may have had. Thank you for being willing to see raising children as your life and passion instead of as a drudge and inconvenience. Thank you for being willing to reshape your entire life to fulfill the sacred duties of motherhood. For you it wasn’t a part-time job. It was a mission—a calling.
I know you weren’t perfect. I know you wish today you had done some things differently yesterday. But you did so many things right. You held yourself to a high standard. There might have been stumbles along the way, but failure wasn’t an option. When you made the commitment to begin homeschooling, you knew in your heart it was a commitment for life. We wouldn’t be going back. You wouldn’t be giving up. And you knew you had to succeed. Failure was never a choice.
Your conviction produced motivation. The door was closed on the past. Going back to the school we left behind was never considered. You were responsible for our education now, and if you made a mess, there was no one else to clean it up. There was no one else to pick up the pieces and put things back together. The responsibility was yours. You didn’t run from it. You didn’t flinch. You embraced it. You greeted it with inflexible determination and an unwavering drive to succeed. Thank you.
Thank you for creating a rich learning environment in which we could thrive. Thank you for providing us with the tools we needed to learn. I know we didn’t have much money in those days, but you did what you could, and it was enough.
Thank you for not always giving us all the answers when we asked for help. Thank you for making us think. Thank you for helping us learn to figure things out for ourselves. I know how to learn, and because of that, I can be as well-educated in my lifetime as I have the drive to become.
Thank you for being an involved mother. Thank you for being willing to act excited about frogs and tadpoles and bones and bugs even though I’m sure you were feeling anything but excited on the inside. Thank you for being willing to enter the world of your little boys and become interested in things that held no fascination for you except that they were exciting to us.
Thank you for your diligence and hard work, ceaseless and untiring. I know you faced health challenges and often didn’t feel well, but you kept on as if there wasn’t a thing wrong in the world. Regardless of the challenge, regardless of the difficulty, you put on a brave face and went forward. We never knew—and I’m sure still don’t—the many sacrifices you made and the hardships you endured. Thank you.
Not every day was wonderful. Not every day was filled with sparkling wonder and unabated delight in the joys of learning. Most days were ordinary. Average. But I’m thankful I was able to spend all those average days at home instead of in a classroom somewhere.
There were times we all got on each other’s nerves and responded with impatience and frustration instead of love and kindness. I’m glad we were able to move past those times and enjoy the journey despite the bumps along the way.
Thank you for your toleration as we screeched and scratched our way through Bach, Beethoven, and Handel, striving for musical mastery during our violin lessons. Perhaps no other segment of our day was as tumultuous as our daily practice time, yet you persevered and kept us at it all those years. Today I appreciate beautiful music thanks in no small part to that early experience of trying to make music of my own.
My memory fails me in trying to recollect everything we did and all the wonderful times we had during our homeschooling journey. If I could remember them all, I’m sure I would call to mind a thousand more things for which to be thankful.
For those of your still in the trenches of homeschooling
Our family has emerged on the other side of homeschooling. Matthew and I are now grown, moving on, and getting settled in life. For those yet in the trenches, still surrounded by the daily challenges of homeschooling, it might be tempting to look at our family and think we must have been perfect—that we had all the answers.
Oh, how I wish they could see how utterly human we were and are! (On second thought, maybe I don’t; it would be too embarrassing.) Mom, I remember things I’m sure you wish I could forget. And undoubtedly you remember things about me I wish you could forget. We weren’t perfect. We never were; we never will be, this side of eternity.
It’s not about perfection; it’s about perseverance. It’s not about being above human frailty, but pressing on in spite of it. It’s about faithfulness in the calling God has given us. Despite all the ups and downs along the way, you kept going. You weren’t perfect. You didn’t have to be. It was your perseverance—with the blessing of God—that made the difference. Thank you.
I also share a sincere thank-you to all the other Christian homeschool moms scattered across the globe. Thank you for making a difference in our world by raising up a generation God can use to accomplish great things for His kingdom. Thank you for investing in the lives of your children. Thank you for loving them enough to give up your other plans and ambitions, devoting the best years of your life to nurturing their hearts. Eternity alone will reveal the rewards your faithfulness has won.
Thank you for pressing on through the challenges. Thank you for your diligence. Thank you for striving against all odds to accomplish something far greater than you ever envisioned. Like the small, hearty Pilgrim band of old, who planted the seeds of a mighty nation on these shores, your dedication and vision today will reverberate through history and make an impact far greater than you can imagine.
Thank you for standing strong against the critics. Many have been the voices saying you would fail—that homeschooling could never work. Thank you for proving them wrong. Thank you for demonstrating to a watching world that God’s ways are best. In the midst of the success God has granted us, however, may we remain ever humble, recognizing that our blessings come from Him and not from our own hands. “Not unto us, O Lord, not unto us, but unto thy name give glory.”
For a thousand unnamed sacrifices, for quietly carrying the burden many others have shunned, for walking in the way that few others are willing to follow, for making a difference in the hearts of your children, thank you. Thank you.
Jonathan Lewis, 29, is a homeschool graduate and glad of it! He is one of the founders of Home School Enrichment Magazine and enjoys writing and speaking from his perspective as a homeschool graduate. In May 2011, Jonathan and Linnea were married, and they had their first baby a year later. If you would like to invite Jonathan to speak to your group—or to get in touch with him for any other reason—drop him a note at jonathan AT HomeSchoolEnrichment DOT com.
© 2011 Jonathan Lewis
This article was originally published in Home School Enrichment Magazine. Learn more at http://HomeSchoolEnrichment.com