By Patricia Marie
From the moment I laid eyes on my firstborn, I knew my life had changed.
Like many others, I didn’t enter the realm of motherhood with credentials common to the job. But, as often is the case, what I lacked in experience, the Lord made up for in grace. And in the sea of diapers, burp cloths, and what felt like endless mid-night football holds, the mystery of this new relationship shined its indomitable beauty like a laser targeted straight to my mind and heart. Every experience brought new ideas, new perspectives, new challenges…new depth. The seeds of my motherly instincts had been awakened, and I soon found myself wondering how I ever lived a day without this precious jewel in my life. My zeal to love and serve this child—this amazing, living, breathing soul that the Lord had put under my stewardship—quickly became paramount. This child of mine deserved nothing but the best from me.
Yet amongst all of the joy and life-changing revelations in those happy days, I was struggling deeply with countless thoughts of the life I would soon return to. I had been working for a Fortune 500 company, and I very much enjoyed my job. I had won the Employee of the Year award at my operations center and, just before I left for maternity leave, I was set up for a promotion. This was to be the next chapter in my career—a job with higher pay, expanded opportunity, and a move to a fully equipped corporate atmosphere. And though this future dangled before me as a sparkling, golden trinket, it paled in comparison to the lush and fertile new world which had opened up to me. I knew, intrinsically, that the corporate world possessed no work, no challenge, and no success that could remotely equate to that which would be required by the vocation set before me. But what was I to do about it?
In this place, I was brought to my first, great crossroad. As my heart insisted, I began to question which of life’s options truly deserved a place at my table. Which options had the most life in them? Which options would I never regret? Which possessed a soul and a deep purpose? Then the more difficult questions came. Could we even afford to live on one salary? What would it mean for “this” or “that?” And, oh! What if…? What if…? What if…? Worse, I was actually suffering guilt from even entertaining the thought of doing this thing which seemed so contradictory in our society—a thing which is sometimes even looked down upon. On several occasions, I remember agonizing in prayer on my back porch, petitioning God for guidance—but He remained silent in those prayers. And now, after nine years of living out my heart’s dream—and with several runs around the same “What if…?” mountain—I know why. But at that time, though my heart had an easy vote, the decision to begin a new career as a SAHM (stay-at-home mom) required quite a leap of faith on my part. It was a good thing that my husband had enough faith for the both of us.
Our family’s decision to homeschool developed in much the same way. We had been brought to another, great crossroad as it had come time to think about preschool in preparation for kindergarten at our local public school. Preschool was a difficult idea for us to wrap our heads around. From day one, we had taught our children how to walk, talk, dress themselves, make their beds, assist in the kitchen, fold laundry, ride a bike, plant a sprout, observe a June bug… We had provided for them a wide-open exposure to the big and wonderful world with music, singing, plays, drawing, painting, fuzzy and snuggly things, sports, nature…and the list goes on. We had read-alouds going from day one and, as the years progressed, I naturally began utilizing various educational resources to introduce letters, colors, numbers, shapes, and the like. We had been a part of a community of families enjoying field trips, holiday parties, and regular playdates. We were active in our church, and we had close connections with our family, whom we visited regularly. With all of this, what did an institutional preschool have to offer?
And, looking ahead to kindergarten, we considered why it was so commonly expected that the work of teaching and training our children was to be largely relinquished at this particular juncture in our family’s lives? It certainly did not feel natural.
The Journey Begins
As I began to look for alternatives, homeschooling came into view, and I was completely amazed! I discovered more resources than I had ever thought possible on the subject. I read several books, visited websites, watched videos, reviewed teaching methods, studied curricula, attended expert presentations, and joined a homeschool community and several support groups. Perhaps the most heart-reaching experiences came through the encouragement and wisdom that was imparted to me by experienced homeschoolers and homeschool supporters. These people possessed some of the most deeply honest and inspiring natures I had ever observed. They showed me the bare-boned soul of homeschool, and it was absolutely beautiful.
Knowing that I would be the primary teacher of the academic subjects, I didn’t know what the future might look like from beginning to end. Yet, as I peered out into the vast homeschool unknown, I found a different spirit within myself from that which I’d had at my first, great crossroad. As an experienced parent, I understood that the seeds of teaching and training my children had already been provided to me, and they were ready for further tending—within myself and within my children. Additionally, having tasted and savored the blessed fruit of the “leap of faith,” I knew that the Lord would provide, and that He had equipped me for the job. I had only to make a decision. That decision was solidified after returning from our first trip to the HEAV Convention. With this last, amazing experience, the world of homeschooling felt like… home. We walked out of those doors ready to pick up the charge that the Lord had laid before our feet. Now, several years in, we continue to enjoy great success in our homeschooling journey, and our children are thriving.
The Next Step
There are many reasons families choose to homeschool. For us, homeschooling came as a natural extension of parenthood. We may also say that parenthood is the foundation of our homeschool; it has its vision, its practical application, and its life inside the bond of the family. It is my belief that we have all been endowed with the tools needed to train our children well—we need only to refine them along the journey. But, to start on the road to homeschooling, we only need one essential resource, and that is love—the deepest of a family’s treasures. When we couple love with a steel will to give our children the very best of ourselves, we can be sure that it will prove an amply sufficient foundation through our homeschooling years to come.
When we find ourselves at the crossroads of life, we do well to remember that God doesn’t always present us with the easy or comfortable options. His Spirit and His knowledge vastly transcend our traditions and common practices. We often struggle with the ideas that He offers to us, and when we look at our circumstances, these options sometimes seem impossible. Indeed, He often calls us to courage as He presents the unknown, as our first, faithful step. And as we ponder our life’s options, we may rest assured that, as we choose to take that first step, the Lord will give us grace and provision to take the next.
Patricia and her husband began their home education journey in 2012, and they consider this decision to be one of the best that they have ever made for their family. Patricia seeks to share the blessings that her family has enjoyed by providing her fellow home educators encouragement, guidance, and assistance as they walk out this journey together. Patricia currently works on HEAV’s legislative team as Yvonne Bunn’s assistant director of government affairs. You can reach her by contacting the HEAV office or finding her online at HEAV’s Homeschooling in Virginia Facebook page.