The last couple of years have been especially challenging to our family. We have coped with the usual- -children growing up and moving on in the form of going off to school, missions and/or getting married. We have had major commitments such as having 5 children in a Shakespeare play and then my weak moment; agreeing to help design and make all the costumes. (What was I thinking?) But the biggest challenge has been dealing with my husband’s ill health and subsequent medical retirement.
As my husband went from being healthy and an active partner in helping me homeschool and raise our children to being bedridden for over a year, our family had to make adjustments and new plans. Responsibilities and roles changed and life took a much different direction than the one we had planned. Here are some of the lessons I learned along the way as we kept our homeschool going.
The first lesson was recognizing that I was no longer in control. I learned to rely on the Lord as we struggled to find out what was wrong with my husband, and then moved through the long recovery process. Once I realized that this was a long term challenge for our family, I knew I needed direction on what, if any changes needed to be made in our homeschool. The Lord helped order my priorities when they sometimes seemed difficult to sort out.
The second lesson I learned was to realize that I needed to curtail my expectations for what we would accomplish, especially that first year. With all the demands on my time, I knew I had to relax and let some things slide. The school blessings my husband gives our children every year helped me to sort out for each child what our main focus would be. If we got to the other things, it was all to the good, but I didn’t beat myself up if it didn’t happen. I also had to stop comparing my homeschool to what other people were doing. Homeschool mom’s come up with some of the best ideas, but to compare what they were doing to what I was dealing with was not helpful. Someday we will get back to those ideas, but not now.
The third lesson, and one of the surprisingly hardest, was to let my kids be more independent in how and when they did their schooling. I enjoy working with my kids and learning is my passion. To let someone else have all the fun was hard, but necessary. And I can say, 2 years later, that it has been good for them. They truly are independent learners, which was my goal in the first place.
The last thing I learned is that there are blessings, even in the midst of challenges. My husband had a demanding career that often had him away from home for long stretches of time. His illness meant that he was able to spend lots of time with our kids, especially our youngest. Our youngest would be the one who would go and check on his dad, bring him things he needed and even watch movies with him. They watched the movie “ Cars” about 100 times. A bad thing often has good thing that go with it. This is just one of the many blessings I could name.
The Brethren, in the October Conference, told us that things will never be as they once were, but that we can expect challenges and problems in our future. The Lord is preparing His people. How we handle these challenges in our families and homeschools will teach our children how to handle the turbulent times ahead of them. I pray that we can follow the counsel given; seek the Lord’s answers and he will direct our paths. Even with our homeschools.