Early in my parenting journey, I was trying to make the right decisions for my oldest daughter’s education. Clara was enrolled in the local elementary school, but was a bit miserable there. I think she would become bored, refuse to do her work (especially any writing) and then the teacher would keep her indoors to finish the work during recess. On the way to school every day, she would throw herself on the ground in an emotional meltdown. She would plead with me, “Please don’t make me go.”
I was not sure as a parent if this was something she needed more time to struggle through (because she is awesome and capable of hard things) or if it was genuinely something that was not going to work for her.
A friend (@mothermegs) invited us to come to a homeschool group activity at her home. Moms taught a lesson and then kids played all day. There were kids everywhere, in every room and surface, having a delightful time. The moms were in the kitchen talking about changing the world and going to the United Nations to speak out for women who enjoy motherhood, while we grazed on a potluck meal of wholesome foods. It was pretty magical. (And we did go on in future years to present at the UN Commission on the Status of Women parallel events, start a non-profit, and run beautiful media campaigns about maternal feminism, but that’s not what this essay is about.)
I toyed with the idea of homeschool, debated all the reasons why or why not, wondered if I really could teach my kids enough, wondered if she needed more socialization, debated on if I could come up with the right resources to do it. But fundamentally, I was a chicken. Taking that on felt heavy and scary.
So I took my questions to God.
James 1:5 “If any man lack wisdom, ask of God, who giveth liberally, and upbraideth not”
As God often does, He answered me through another person. I was watching a televised talk by Tad Callister in October of 2014. He said
“We may ask ourselves: do our children receive our best spiritual, intellectual, and creative efforts?” and “As parents, we can proceed with the assurance that God will never leave us alone. God never gives us a responsibility without offering divine aid.”
-Tad Callister in Parents: The Prime Gospel Teachers of Their Children
Hearing this talk inspired me. I wanted to give my best and most creative efforts to my children. I wanted to connect with them in meaningful ways and spend the best hours of their days with them and not give that time to a teacher at school. It was exactly what I needed to hear to overcome my fear and doubt and I felt the rightness for us to pull Clara out of school and to teach her at home. I felt powerful and strong and knew that that strength came from me and from God.
Creativity (my passion) was something that I want to be an integral part of our family culture. I wanted to customize my children’s creative education to fit our goals and life missions. Sometimes that has meant attending traditional school, sometimes it has meant homeschool, but it always means using my best self to parent and teach.
Perhaps this sounds overly idealized and like our family has had some kind of easy time or maybe isn’t rooted in reality. On the contrary, we have had real and significant struggles. It is in the middle of the hardest parts that we turn to creative solutions and to God, like gathering on my bed to do our homeschool work while I miscarried more than 10 times, or moved, or lost Stan’s dad. That’s when we cried together, read to each other, and snuggled to watch shows together.