This is me.
Have you ever looked out into the great big internet world and realized that everyone else is already doing everything you are trying to do, but they are doing it better? They’ve already found all the great resources. They’ve already done the amazing projects. Their science experiments actually turn out! They are incredible! And everything you wanted to say and all the help and encouragement you wanted to offer? They’ve already given it.
And their blogs look really cute and professional, too.
I was trying to put together a little unit on World War II and it was stressing me out to no end. (Still is, by the way.) What books should we read? What should we NOT read? Are there any documentaries we can watch that are age appropriate for little kids? All of it just seemed so overwhelming. How do you even do a project on the Holocaust?
So, of course, I went to the internet.
Now maybe it was because I was already kind of stressed out. (I have been, and will be for the next few weeks, suffering from an extreme bought of overwhelming busyness – which is a subject for another blog post.) So already I was feeling a little guilty for not writing on MY own blog for some time. But looking at everyone else’s perfect little blogs/lesson plans/photos/homeschools/lives actually just made me feel worse.
Have you ever had that happen?
Ok, maybe not with homeschooling blogs. But how about just life in general?
They say Facebook is not only addicting, but also harmful to your mental health and leads to depression. Everyone else’s life looks so rosy and peachy. You know, never ending vacations, adventures, cute kids, big life events, beautiful and obviously-not-posed-and-taken-over-and-over-again-until-each-strand-of-hair-is-in-the-right-place-and-my-face-doesn’t-look-so-fat selfies. (That’s sarcasm if you missed it… unless of course, they all actually DO look like supermodels all the time. *sigh*) Somehow Facebook even makes someone else’s sometimes naughty and misbehaving kids look cuter and destined to be more popular than your own sometimes naughty and misbehaving kids.
(So actually, I don’t have this particular Facebook problem. I know that my sometimes naughty kids have the same potential as everyone else’s.)
But apparently I have this problem big time when I look at other people’s homeschools via the perfecting filter of the internet. They’re just all doing it better. I love that they share all these great ideas and resources and suggestions, but sometimes I wonder what I have to offer and what my place is? Do I even have a place?
Here is the obvious irony in this entire scenario.
I KNOW they do not have perfect lives. I KNOW that they do not have perfect homeschools. Rationally, I understand that while they have more knowledge in some areas or access to certain resources, I, just by the virtue of being a different person with a different background and in a different part of the country, have knowledge and access to resources that they don’t. It all probably just evens out, as far as that goes. Plus, resources (a.k.a. money) don’t really equate to educational and academic ability as shown through public education practices. It is the teacher, the approach, and the environment of the “classroom,” whatever that may be. And I KNOW that my kids are getting the best education and upbringing available to them, even if I can’t figure out how to make a “sound wave detector,” which was our most recent flop.
The entire reason I started a blog of my own, besides recording our homeschool for myself, was to show that we make a lot of mistakes and things often don’t turn out. It is to show that I am not perfect, I am not some sort of super human, or supermom, or a super teacher in anyway whatsoever. I’m just a regular mother who loves her kids and has made specific sacrifices in order to give them what I feel God wants them to have.
So in the grand scheme of things, the point I am trying to make on my blog is that if a person has the desire, and is not absolutely required to work outside the home, they can offer their children a loving homeschool experience, too. Not a “perfect” or “flawless” homeschool, but a loving, life changing, nurturing, educating, supporting, and strengthening homeschool as an alternative to what our culture has, for so long, told us is “the only actual way” to be a successful human being. (It still kind of teaches us that.)
Even if you never figure out how to make half of your chemistry experiments work like the book says they should. And even if your kids talk all through symposium instead of listening to the music. And even if your kindergartener is in a new phase where he throws a tantrum every single day at the mere mention of getting out his math books.
Yes, every day.
(It’s just a phase, right? right?)
But the other night, I, being imperfect and mortal and subject to weakness and foibles like everyone, really just felt like crumpling up and crying and giving up a little. The pervading feeling and thought was, “Who am I kidding? I have nothing to add. I’m just not good enough.”
And then God said, “Do you mean you aren’t good enough? Or do you mean you aren’t as good as? And if you mean you aren’t as good as and are trying to compare yourself with someone else, well, then you already know how I feel about that.”
I teach children now at church (after 4 years of teaching adult women) and our lesson last Sunday was about recognizing the Spirit in our lives. The Spirit of God does not leave us feeling discouraged. It just doesn’t.
Furthermore, God warns us against being concerned about what other people think of us more than worrying or being concerned about how He thinks of us. Our job is to build up and enrich and enlighten as best we can. Not to be more popular than the next blogger/person down the street. To judge and compare sets us at odds with others, which in turn just results in pulling down, degrading, and shaming or discouraging each other.
And sometimes it really just results in pulling down and discouraging ourselves.
So I had to ask myself, is the purpose of this blog to make myself look good and perfect and receive the praise of the world for being just out-of-this-world incredible and worthy of emulation and adoration? Or is it to be honest – even when unflatteringly so – and to build others up, enrich, and encourage as best I can? Even if my sphere of influence is so very, very small.
What if it is just one person?
Well, if it helps just one, then I have done something good. And all good things come from God.
And what if that one person is just little old me?
Well, God says that is good, too.
And that is enough to make me feel encouraged to keep going.
Is that too cheesy? How about this one?
(And, just for the record, I AM going to use that woman’s stuff on her blog because it was AWESOME and it is going to make my life so much easier! Thanks awesome homeschool blogger!)