Most people who know me know my story. They know my master plan for my life never involved marriage and kids.
I spent my little girl fantasies imagining myself living my best life in decked-out-New-York-City-high-rise-apartments, eating the finest food, traveling the world, dating casually. You know, movie stuff. Hey, I’m a ’90s girl. What do you expect?
But then I met a boy and fell in love. (yep. he got me.) My college sweetheart and I were married for about five years before I ever even considered adding children to our family. And once we started…we just didn’t stop. Now, four girls and thirteen years later, I am so grateful and proud of this life that asks for the best of me, everyday.
The origins of my homeschooling journey involves a little bit of the classic, “you can’t be it if you don’t see it.” One of my best friends and sister from another mister, Chasity, had her first baby a few years before I did. She delayed her return to work and stayed home with her baby, my sweet niece whom I refer to as Junie. I’d visit often and spend time with her and Junie. It was a different view of a life I thought I knew well; when you have a baby, you take maternity leave and then you put your baby in a great daycare and go on back to work. Boom. I am daughter number 2 of 4. My mom and dad always worked and even after my parents divorced, my mom worked multiple jobs to take care of us. Watching Chas take the space and time to enjoy her baby girl was inspiring.
After I had my first girl, I was still teaching at a local Montessori school. My school’s program started at 18 months so even though I loved what I saw at Chasity’s house, I figured once my baby turned 18 months, she’d come to school with me. By the time she was four months, I was pregnant again with our second girl. The closer the delivery date for baby number two came, the clearer I got that I no longer wanted to go to school and offer my best to someone else’s children, while trusting someone to offer their best to my child each day. One of my favorite Maria Montessori quotes says that the parent is the child’s first teacher. I believe this is true and I wanted to be my children’s best teacher. So, maybe that is the moment I decided to homeschool (hindsight). All I knew was that I wanted to be home with my girls. I wanted to protect them. I wanted to offer them my best. I wanted to watch them grow up. I wanted to focus on them. But we had to begin at the beginning; logistically, how would we afford for me to stay home?
My hubs and I needed to become more financially stable in order for me to do that. At the time of my second pregnancy, my hubs was a grad student. His income was very minimal (I’m being kind. He ain’t have no money. none.). I was the “bread winner” (in quotation marks because I was a teacher. at a private school. I ain’t have no money either.). After I expressed my desire to stay home with the girls, we prayed and asked God for the financial stability via my hubs’ new job upon graduation (complete with health insurance) so that I could come home. And He answered our prayers.
That was the extent of my preparation to homeschool. In the beginning, when the girls were babies, I didn’t even really see it as homeschooling and I didn’t know how long we’d do it. I was home with my girls. I was mothering. And I was doing my best to take it one day at a time. The more I was with my girls, the more I wanted to be with them. I still remember the sweet feeling of teaching them to count, teaching them to read, and teaching them to write. There were tough moments but it was so triumphant when they caught on and started to use the skills they were learning.
As with anything, homeschooling might not be for everybody but I am so glad it was the choice we made. I know the pandemic forced us all inside with our babies, faced with figuring out how to love them, keep them safe and educate them from our living rooms. When outside was open again, some folks couldn’t wait to send their children back school while others were trying to figure out how to keep it going. I’ll share a great deal about homeschooling on this blog. But for now, consider this my little note of encouragement to the mamas out there feeling a pull to stay home with their babies but not really knowing all the details of how it will work out. It starts when we respond to that tug of the heart that asks us to consider this homeschoolin’ life. And, really, the journey is just a compilation of showing up and saying yes, each day, in whatever measure we can muster.