Homeschooling gave me precious time with my children. Time to teach them academics, life skills, how to develop good character, and more. There are many moments throughout their childhoods that are deeply memorable to me. Since my children are young adults now, we talk sometimes about our homeschooling days. Our memories are like a Venn diagram, with a good amount of shared recollections. We also have different memories, mine as a teacher and theirs as children and students. When I think about all the time we spent together, I wonder which of the plethora of lessons and life experiences will actually stick with them over time. If the Lord blesses them with children of their own, what will they remember from their own youth to share with my grandchildren?
I have mixed feelings, both pride and trepidation about what my children may recall. I’ve already learned that my children don’t always remember events in the same way that I remember them. For example, my husband and I started a tradition of playing an audio version of Charles Dickens’s A Christmas Carol on Christmas morning as we drove to the grandparents’ house. The recording was dramatized complete with music and sound effects. Unfortunately there was another tradition on Christmas mornings, and that was my daughter’s car sickness that predictably hit her about a half hour into our two hour trip. This led to the tradition of finding a gas station with paper towels and the requisite clean-up before we could continue on our way.
I have strong memories of sharing a classic story with my children, encouraging their listening skills while sharing time as a family. I thought I was establishing a positive tradition as we listened to the same story each Christmas day. What my children remember is that one of the characters had a really weird, sinister laugh in the audio version we listened to and that was their biggest take away from that audio book. That was not the outcome I was hoping for and to make matters worse they began to associate that exact recording with being carsick or sitting with their nauseous sister, so as soon as the soundtrack began they groaned in unison.
I remember countless times when I had to defend my decision to homeschool. I suspect I was questioned in part because homeschooling was far from mainstream when I started educating my children at home and because my son had such obvious learning challenges. Mr education to the “professionals”. There are many specific incidences that are indelibly part of my homeschooling memory bank. There are many memories I have that I am glad will not be recalled by my children. Children do not need to be burdened with every aspect of the sacrifices made on their behalf. Still, I wonder what they will remember and what impressions will continue to affect them as they start families of their own.
Will they remember the times when I cried with them when they were hurting? Did it make a lasting memory when I held them to offer comfort when there were no words left to say? I know how fiercely I loved each one of them, and how I prayed for them before they were born. Children can’t be expected to truly understand the depth of a parent’s love or an adult’s perspective on investing in children’s lives. But if we show them over and over again how committed we are to Christ, to them, to living a life pleasing to God, then we have provided a model for them to emulate with their own children someday.
I know my children will also have memories of when I blew it as a mom and teacher. There were times when I unwittingly hurt them or misunderstood them. I said the wrong thing or did the wrong thing and did not live up to my high hopes to be a godly woman and mother. One time I scolded my daughter for hiding under the table while I was preparing lunch because she had sneaked the package of bologna and was eating it as quickly as she could get it in her mouth and chew. My son sided with his little sister and told me that I was mean and yelled at small children. I was also fired as a mom by a 5 year old, and another of my offspring once packed a suitcase with the intention of running away across the street which was doubly bad since she wasn’t yet old enough to cross the road by herself.
Despite these disappointments and times of failure, my children and I also have shared memories of forgiveness and communication from the heart. They may not remember all the school lessons I taught them over the years, and there may not be a lot of significant memories from specific events. My hope is that when they look back on their youth they will have a general impression of learning to love and relate to others with affection, humor, forgiveness, and perseverance. I pray that they will continue growing in their faith and that the stories they share with their own children will include many of the lessons I endeavored to pass along to them.
Melinda has been married to Scott for 25 years and has three homeschooled children. Her 22 yr. old son and 21 yr. old daughter graduated from home school in 2006, leaving Melinda an “empty desker” of two along with her 17 year old daughter who will graduate in 2011. Two of her children and her husband have been diagnosed with AD/HD. The children also deal with auditory processing disorders and sensory processing challenges. The name “Boring” just doesn’t fit this family and Melinda shares many humorous moments in her speaking and writing endeavors. Melinda is the author of Heads Up Helping and has been a contributing author to multiple publications. She is a workshop presenter with a passion for helping struggling learners and providing practical strategies, compassion, and understanding for those with special needs. Melinda is also a speech/language pathologist with over 25 years experience and the owner of Heads Up, a company with products for those who learn differently. You can find her blog at the Heads Up website, where she writes as “Heads Up Mom”.