There’s an article here on homeschooling your high school student. It’s short but provides a few tips on making the most of the experience.
Will we be homeschooling through high school? I get asked that question fairly often. My answer is always, “It’s the kind of thing you become more committed to as you go along. We have a general plan for homeschooling over the long haul, but we’re open to other options should we find ourselves in other circumstances. Based on the options available to us now, homeschooling is what we’re supposed to be doing.” There may come a time when the kids need things we can’t provide in a homeschool setting. But we’re not there yet.
I’ve been mulling this lately because I’ve been considering going back to work outside the home. But try though I might, I can’t find any peace in the possibility. I understand that some folks feel it’s necessary for Mom to work, and some folks even keep a foot in the professional door while homeschooling. It’s not the kind of thing I would argue about; I wouldn’t argue that my point of view is the “right” one, only that it reflects an understanding I have come to, and nothing seems to dislodge it. At least, not yet.
I feel that my career needs to stay on hold. Whether or not I’m homeschooling, I want to be available here at home. A wise woman told me, before we had children, “People think that once their kids are in high school, they are free to work full-time. But actually that’s when it’s more important for them to be there when their kids get home.” I’ve always remembered that because it’s counter-intuitive.
As with most things, I’m influenced by a mixture of principle and personal experience. I remember that my mother worked as a nursery school director when I was in 6th grade, and it meant she was no longer home when I got home from school. On Fridays, I made supper. I remember a darkness descending that year as well, a darkness that was always explained to me as the hormones of puberty. Maybe they played a role. But I remember as well the feeling of responsibility I had that year. I had a younger sister, and I felt that it was important for me not to get sick so that I would be there to walk her home from school. I was on the brink of junior high, which meant adulthood to me, and I didn’t feel ready. It was just a dark year, one of those spots of memory that sticks out to me, and the darkness spread over my high school years. It wasn’t all because Mom went to work, but the isolation was certainly intensified because of it. Material resources were brought into the household by taking Mom out of it — her physical presence, and also the many small touches of care and artistry that reflected her presence there.
Now I have children, and I’m at home with them. Sometimes I notice that it’s as though they’re alone in the house; they are playing with legos, or listening to stories, or reading, or playing outside, and I am not actively involved in what they’re doing. This seems very healthy to me. But I am still there. I am available if needed, as I sometimes am.
To me it’s that availability that defines motherhood. When all is said and done, this time when they are at home is a fairly brief period. They will graduate from high school in the blink of an eye, and I don’t want to have any regrets. As long as God provides, we’ll keep on as a single-income family. One key element in all of this is that “provision” is not necessarily “abundance”; we live on less, and there are plenty of things we cannot afford. But the operative assumption is that presence is worth more than stuff, and so far nothing has happened to convince us otherwise.
That’s not to say that I don’t have my frustrations at times. I spent many years of my life earning a doctorate, and that means I’m an educated professional who’s not in the classroom and not in the academic journals. Sometimes I long for recognition, though admitting that embarrasses me. But I’m still able to participate in my “field” in ways that I love: reading and writing, influencing young minds, and even undertaking a longer-term writing project as I have lately been preparing to do.
I have been reading some strongly feminist stuff lately, but as I’ve reflected on it I’ve been reminded that though it speaks some truth, there are seasons in life. This is a brief and precious season of nurture. And as a Christian, the project of self-development takes in a larger scope than if I did not see myself as a soul loved by God. Spiritual formation involves developing whatever profession or gifting God has given me, but always in relation to Him and in relation to others; always there is the awareness that He has purposes He graciously allows me to participate in. It’s actually a grander vision than professional achievement — though it has the humility and paradox of the mustard seed.