Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Homeschooling and Selfishness

One of the helpers at Vacation Bible School this week asked me a great question about homeschooling, and I floundered a little bit, so I thought I would take the time to answer here, because I think it is a big one that people are scared to ask.

Don't you ever want time to yourself?

YES.  A hundred times, yes.  I am not a saint, not by any stretch of the imagination.  (By the way, based on how many times I have heard that lately, I think calling someone is a saint is the new polite way of saying "You are absolutely flipping crazy").

To be quite honest, I think I might want more "me" time than some other moms.  I NEED my kids to lay down for naps/quiet time, if for no other reason than for me to have an hour of silence.  I crave quiet and peacefulness.  That can be hard to come by with four homeschooled children.  Or any four children.

I tend to find my time to myself after the baby is down at night, when Seth is with the big girls.  I spend weekends away with my girlfriends, sometimes bringing the littlest baby at the time, sometimes alone....often pregnant!  I visit my parents in the city without the kids.  Compared to most moms, I probably take more overnight trips into Chicago or wherever, because both my sorority sisters and my parents still live there.  I make time with my girlfriends a priority, as much as I can with four kids and a husband who farms, because my friendships are so important to me.  One thing I know for sure is that my girlfriends make a me a better person, and therefore a better wife and mother.

That being said.....

Back when I only had one or two kids, I was more insistent about my time alone.  And then I realized that I often came back from my "me" time more frustrated and annoyed at the chaos and noise than ever.  Running away from my responsibilities didn't recharge me.  It just made me want to be more selfish.


Motherhood will stretch you, if you let it.  I think most moms would say that their families are their priority, and most of them would really mean it.  But actions and choices reveal true priorities, not just words.  I want my life to reflect that my joy is in my family!

I've learned that I really do have a lot of "me" time everyday, if I choose to stop thinking about my days in a such a one-sided way.  Time alone spending money on myself is not the only way to refuel for the harder parts of motherhood.  No.  I get a lot of pleasure from baking, which is something I get to do almost everyday.  Yes, I may have more helpers than I know what to do with, and there may well be a much bigger mess than I would like, but what better way is there for me to spend my time?

I find beauty in hanging the laundry out on the line to dry.  Yes, that is work.  But it is also peaceful and a chance to be out in the sun, doing something useful with my hands.  

Everyday the children and I walk around the gardens and the pastures.  Back when I worked in an office, I often complained that I went to work in the dark and came home in the dark, and that the nanny got to do all the fun discovery stuff outside with my baby.  Now I have the opportunity to be the one to examine the earthworms or show the girls how to pull weeds.  It's not a spa day, but these are real privileges that I am grateful to have.

That doesn't mean that I am giving up our occasional date nights, seeing friends, taking trips alone, reading a good book in peace.  Of course not!  I am person too, not just a wife and mother.  But it does mean that we don't make choices about our family life that don't line up with our real priorities. 

If my kids went to school, there is no doubt that I would have a lot more time to myself.  Absolutely.  And I would LOVE some time to do whatever I want everyday, to write, or shop, or work out.  Heck, I would love some time to do my work around the house in peace.  But at what cost?  This is the way of life that we think is best for our family.  If, knowing that, I sent my kids to school anyway, that would be the worst kind of selfishness.  It is my goal to die to self, to let go of the selfishness that we all have in order to be the best wife and mother I can be.  Do I fail at this?  But I have gotten better over the years, and I hope I can keep growing.  Silence and an immaculate house are not what I signed up for.  

I am not a perfect homeschooling mother, by any measurement out there.  I fight my selfishness every day.  But I have been given great gifts, as well as great responsibilities.  I will not ignore one for the other.


  1. I love your first picture in this sums it all up. :) You smiling and the other 4 just being kids...too funny and cute!

  2. Awesome as always!!! I totally agree!!!

  3. Shannon@ChickensinMyKitchenJune 29, 2011 at 5:11 PM

    That picture DOES sum it all up!  We sent out Christmas cards like this two years ago.....because all our attempts were ridiculous.

  4. Shannon@ChickensinMyKitchenJune 29, 2011 at 5:12 PM

    Thank you!