Here is a portion of an e-mail I recently received:
“I am a homeschooling mother (31) of five children (ages 13 years, 12 years, 10 years, 6 years, and 21 months) and a pastor’s wife. I can never sit down at the end of the day, have an accomplished feeling, and say ’My job is done for the day.’ I feel so burdened and pulled from so many directions. My house is pretty organized. My children have chores. They are very good kids, and we have many compliments on them. People seem to just adore our family, yet I feel so?!? I do love my family and would not trade it for the world. It just seems so hard keeping up all the time. When I turn my attention toward one thing, another is lacking; children, husband, housework, church, ladies meetings . . . How about just relaxing or fun??? What’s that? It’s like there is not enough of me to get it all done. I am not a lazy person. I work too hard, wear down, and get frustrated. It’s like a cycle.” A tired homeschool mom (used by permission)
This is a typical e-mail for me to find in my inbox. It forthrightly and honestly speaks of the reality of a homeschooling lifestyle. I can personally relate to this mom’s thoughts and feelings because I have had to deal with them myself. Because of these struggles, I have taken my questions to the Lord to seek His truth. I wanted to understand what He says about this rather than what others—even homeschool moms—might say.
Through my over twenty years of homeschooling, I find a propensity within homeschool circles, when faced with the issues this mom raises, to give advice along the lines of: slow down, find an easier curriculum, do less school, go easy on yourself, don’t expect too much of yourself or the children, take a break, and get housekeeping help. Any of these might be the solution to this mom’s problems. However, I have discovered a difficult, but exciting, truth in my study of Scripture as it relates to being a homeschool mom. This Scriptural direction does not endorse the same counsel that we tend to like to give each other; I, too, am quite prone to want to give encouragement in the direction of easing up. Instead, the Word takes a consistently strong stand on what I have come to see is, plainly and simply, hard work.
During my Bible reading time, I went through the New Testament with an eye for verses that applied to what our expectations as homeschooling moms should be considering the workload we face. How much work should we have to do? Can I expect to have personal time to do what I want to do? What about taking care of me? What does Scripture have to say that would apply to these types of questions?
As I made my study, I looked for verses that indicated I was entitled to fun, entertainment, relaxation, or some kind of focus on me. I wouldn’t have minded finding some Biblical admonition for this propensity of my flesh. I have to admit I was disappointed, but not surprised, not to be able to discover any verses that applied. I found many verses that had to do with being a servant, dying to self, and taking up my cross. However, I didn’t find one verse that mentioned or even alluded to fun, entertainment, or relaxation.
Verses I felt applied to having time for myself were ones that dealt with spiritual growth, such as, “Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth” (2 Timothy 2:15). Or, “But grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and for ever” (2 Peter 3:18). From these kinds of verses I could glean the importance of having time set aside in my day to spend with the Lord, reading the Word, praying, and memorizing Scripture. This wasn’t specifically stated, but rather it was implied because of the outcome to be gained. Time for Teri was to be spent allowing the Lord Jesus to spiritually teach, grow, and nurture me. I couldn’t find where it was to be selfishly spent doing what I wanted to do.
I am not saying that as homeschool moms we can never do something we enjoy for ourselves or that we can never relax. What I am trying to convey is that in Scripture we find a different picture than the world gives us of our role as mothers and our workload. The world’s view of work, almost any kind of work, is that it is to be accomplished as quickly as possible so that we are free to pursue our personal pleasures. That kind of pleasure is all the world has for which to live. When my expectations become set on having to have time for my own entertainment, I find myself grappling for what doesn’t satisfy and disappointed in the process. My focus becomes myself, easily filled with self-pity in what I might be missing and dissatisfaction with what I am accomplishing, much like the e-mail you just read in the beginning of this Mom’s Corner.
The Lord Jesus is telling me through His Word that my focus is not to be on how to get time for fun. Instead it is to be on Himself. John 15 tells me that I am to abide in Him, and He in me. When my thoughts are on Him, then my heart wants to be obedient more than it wants to serve self and be free of its workload. In the midst of that obedience comes the hard work associated with serving others, giving of my time and energy, and actually dying to self. However, with that sacrifice come the joy and contentment Paul talks about in Philippians 4.
In the next months, I want to continue looking into the workload of a homeschooling mom and our expectations. I plan to share particular verses that helped me deal with my thoughts and attitudes about this. May we each be a mom who chooses to obediently follow Jesus Christ, having a servant’s heart, without listening to the lies of the world.
Homeschooling with a Meek and Quiet Spirit has been an encouragement to many moms (even non homeschoolers) as they seek to have the spirit that God desires us to exhibit. I share from many years of experience and what the Lord has taught me and is continuing to teach me. An accompanying study guide is also available. Quite a few ladies are using the book and guide as a group study.