“Love is patient. Love is kind.” Except sometimes love makes you want to hide in the pantry and binge eat mediocre gluten free Oreo substitutes. Sometimes love makes you want to stop drinking coffee and start drinking wine way earlier than is socially acceptable when home alone with four kids. Sometimes patience wears thin and little hands touching, pulling, requests for time, attention, fairness, and world equality begin to feel like some kind of elementary age apocalypse in which I am needed for every single function and interaction of my little people. (Deep breathing happening here.) When people find out we homeschool our four children there are a few typical comments.
“How do you manage that with four kids?”
“My kids and I would kill each other if we were together all the time.”
“I would never have the patience to homeschool.”
That one is my favorite. Because it implies that I do have the patience to homeschool. Ha. Anyone that knows me would have to admit I am not the picture of gentle, patient mothering. Even though I was an elementary teacher I never mastered that sweet sing songy voice of lots of teachers. I wish I had a bit more of that. My dark-ish sense of humor and matter of fact mothering are just who I am. (My kids and their too grown up, slightly inappropriate sense of humor are living proof of that.)
Special Reservoir of Patience to Homeschool
Because we chose to take our kids out of the public school system did not give me access to some special reserve of patience kept secret only for people that are crazy enough to teach their kids at home. (Sign me up!) I’m the exact same apparent I was when my kids went to school every day.
I do understand the sentiment though. When my kids went to school they generally came home tired, hungry, and overstimulated. They had homework, ball practice, projects, all boxes to be checked off. Most evenings it wasn’t a sweet reunion. They were done. We were all in a hurry to move on the next thing on the list. Those evenings required a LOT of patience.
Homeschooling Gives Us the Best of Each Other, Not the Leftovers
While we do spend more time together now and I am the one to require much, much more from them we are on our own schedule. I don’t get what is leftover of their little selves at the end of a long day of trying to hold it together at school. I get the beginning, the good stuff.
They also get the best of each other. (Sometimes even the best is not that great. Hey, we are a work in progress.) Leaving behind daily exposure to a group of same age peers has left them more content with each other; less worried about their coolness factor. They still drive each other batty with incessant touching and regular sibling squabbles. (What do I have to sign up for to get those to go away?) But there are more good times to help balance it out.
We still spend lots of evenings and weekends running all over creation to sporting practices, events, scouts, and the social calendars of four kids that have more friends than any weird homeschooler needs. I find the patience needed for those evenings and busy days far surpasses the slow mornings we spend at home together working through studies.
It’s not all good stuff, don’t get me wrong. There is plenty of the ugly. That’s when I’m hiding in the bathroom on Facebook or leave the pantry smelling suspiciously of chocolate. But, come on, doesn’t every mother do that once in a while?
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