My biggest frustration! This is part of the homeschool blog hop I'm doing with several other lovely ladies. Check the end of the post for links to their blogs! I'm posting rather late in the day, but writing anyway!

I feel, unfortunately, like I'm an easily frustrated person in some regards, so this list could be long for me. It's hard for me to quantify levels of frustration to determine "biggest." So, maybe instead of that, I will go over a couple frustrations that seem to take turns being the biggest, dependent on mood and day. Feel free to share this with family/friends who keep asking you about homeschooling, by the way, heh.

Let's go into this list with a few things understood, just in case this is the first blog post of mine you're reading. First, I was homeschooled from third grade through high school. I "was" a homeschooler before I was a homeschool "teacher." I have three kids and they're all two or under, so our "school" right now is super basic stuff. I'm not dealing with algebra or science fairs or SAT prep yet. Also, I talk to people about homeschooling a lot and I grew up in a decently supportive church community, but in a time when there were only a few of us and we were still by-and-large considered mostly weird. Some of (not all!) that stigma is fading a bit in this particular area, partly because it's a lot easier to find lots of other homeschoolers to talk to. Anyway, my family and few homeschooling friends were a curiosity to people, which meant I spent a lot of time talking exactly about what I did.

Let's just call this confessions of a homeschooler and use that previous paragraph to segway into this list:

1. I understand that you're curious, but I am not being homeschooled because I am (a) a genius or (b) too stupid for "normal" school. Please ask me how I do school or what my day is like, but please don't (a) pop-quiz me to make sure I can read or (b) assume that you must seem stupid to me because I'm too smart for you. Also, this same grace for my kids, please, now that I'm the mom instead of the student.

Here's the thing: my parents care a lot about me. And even if you've met that one weird family that didn't seem to feel like actually educating their kids was important, that's not very common. It was really important to my parents that I do well in school. It's important to me that my kids are learning. And in addition to that, there actually are oversight laws in place, so someone outside my family is keeping tabs on my year-end test grades or my work portfolio.

And homeschool doesn't and will not cover all bases at once or the same pace. Public and private schools don't either. It's not perfect, but that doesn't mean it's terrible.

That said, I think there's a growing understanding that homeschooling works and that it has a real educational value. Which leads into the other half of this frustration, which is the pendulum swing ("Oh, you aren't stupid, so you must be crazy-smart").

Maybe I am smart. I'd like to think so. I love learning. I love talking to people. But you know what? I hated math when I was younger. I don't mind it now and would like to get better at it, but as of this moment, I'm pretty terrible at algebra or anything past basic geometry. I just am. This was not a homeschool thing. This was a me thing. Science is not my strong point, despite having two parents that loved math and science and taught it pretty well, as evidenced by the success my siblings have had in the same fields I disliked.

And in high school this assumption was especially frustrating. I had friends that would cut themselves off from entire conversations with me because they "weren't homeschooled" or "didn't get it." And you know what? Darn it, I don't get it either, and that's why I want to talk about it. Homeschoolers need some breathing room to not be THE BEST AT EVERYTHING just because they're excited about stuff. Give your kids that space. Give your grandkids that space. Give your neighbors that space. Please.

2. Comparison. A few other of the blog hop moms wrote about this and it's so true. When I compare myself to what other moms of preschoolers are doing, I feel inadequate regardless of how well my kids are doing. I'm not spending too much time on this point because others have written about it so well and because for the purposes of this post, it's pretty self-explanatory.

3. Being with my kids all day.

Not gonna lie. Being with toddlers all day is exhausting sometimes. I'm there for every fit, every meltdown, everything. They throw stuff out of my grocery cart. They stare at my pee in the toilet and talk about it. They scream when I tell them they can't play my iPod. I want to let them help me make dinner and they want to help me make dinner but they keep licking the measuring spoons and trying to stir this raw chicken with the whisk while I'm cutting it.

I hesitated to put this point on here because some people might misunderstand and think I feel trapped at home. I don't. I love being with my kids all day. I love being here to read to them, to talk to them, to be present for so much of them learning and exploring and hearing stuff they say to their toy animals like, "Hi, owl. Owl, you have eyes. Are you sad? Why you sad? You have eyes. You have wings. You can fly! Owl you can fly!"

But there are moments when I want to get away for a bit. And I think that's okay to admit. A lot of times, it means that I actually need sleep or more time with God and not really a chance to do whatever I want. That's not realistic even if my kids aren't around.

I love my kids. And there are moments in my rough days when I don't want to be around them for a while. I'm homeschooling because my husband and I decided together that it was the best thing for us and not because I am a saint, because I have unlimited patience, because my kids never get on my nerves and that's how I manage, because I've figured it all out already. Talk to any homeschooler long enough, and you'll eventually hear that every single parent has uttered some variation of, "THE BUS WILL PICK YOU UP IN THE MORNING I AM DONE."

What we're really saying is: I'm tired. You are being difficult. I am probably being difficult. We are frustrated. We will figure this out by the grace of God. I still love you but I am still learning how to love.

4. Self.

Oh, flesh. I hate you. You sweet-talk me into doing things for myself that I "deserve" and they are not what I really need or want and before I know it, I'm standing in Eden with that fruit in my hand, torn between still enjoying the taste in my mouth and the sinking feeling in my gut that God is going to show up for our walk soon, calling, "Adam, where are you?"

5. Expectations.

This is maybe also wrapped up in point one, but I guess I think of that point more in relation to my own experience as a homeschooled student interacting with others and this one is more about my life as a mom interacting with my kids. It's hard to find a balance for what I should expect of my kids. It's difficult to sort out all the "should" and "shouldn'ts" for where they actually are and where they "need" to be.

They should be able to, they should know better than to, they should, they should, they should.

Here is the thing that is hard to remember: I should expect them to grow and I shouldn't expect them to do so in a way that doesn't surprise or challenge me.

I was laughing with a friend the other day about the ridiculousness of yelling "STOP YELLING" at your kids. And I think that rule can be applied to just about anything. If it's taken me this long to figure out basic stuff and I'm still working on things like "do not speak harshly when upset," then my expectations for my kids' behavior and learning pace should be full of grace. Parents have a natural desire to see their kids do "better" than them. This can be healthy. But doing "better" isn't going to be achieved by lots of moaning about where they "should" be instead of figuring out the wisest way to handle where they actually are.

Here is an Occam's Razor for learning challenges and using therapy or extra time to help a child, one I'm learning is still true for my husband and I as well:

If it helps, it helps. If it doesn't, it doesn't.

No shoulds about it.

(Wow this post is already super long.)

6. How easy it is for me to be consumed by homeschooling.

Homeschooling is something I do. It is a big part of my life and I love it. As previously mentioned, I love learning. But it is all too easy to be consumed by the label. It is not my life, it is not my salvation, it is not the entirety of my identity.

I am a follower of Christ. I am also a wife. A mom. A sister. A friend. A witness.

The burden of my children's education in both the faith and academics is such a great one at times that it is hard to stop poring over curriculums and schedules and discussing things and talking about it and step back from it and remember the other parts of my life and not feel guilty for remembering that.

Homeschooling, in some small ways, is to life with your kids as a wedding is to marriage. (Note: I said some small ways. I like analogies I have to fight for.) Under the pressure of getting things "just right," it's easy to get caught up in micromanaging all the details until you get to the day after the wedding and realize that your entire relationship with yourself and your spouse and your life had become wrapped up in that one thing and you're not really sure who you are anymore and don't know what to talk about if it's not math worksheets or what the kids learned today.

Balance. Balance has been a theme here, I guess. I want balance in how I am perceived. I need balance in looking to others as inspiration and looking at them as measuring sticks. I need balance in how I view my kids, the time I spend in preparation.

You know what's easy to balance?

A yoke that isn't heavy. A lot of times, I need to take a deep breath and stop focusing on my frustration.

Matthew 11:28-30:

"'Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.'"

Check out the other blogs! Here:

Clockwise, from top left:
Lorrie @ Life and Lessons LearnedSelena at Campbell ClanKathleen @ Positive Adoption,
Audrey @ Everything BeautifulCharli @ WV Urban HippiesTracey @ Building My House, and Maria @ The Joyfully Frugal Home