Do you ever feel that everywhere you look, all you can see are moms that have it together? Their outfit is put together, they’re not rushing, their kids are well-behaved. They can even remember where they parked their car.
Meanwhile, your coffee’s been sitting on the counter for an hour and a half now, you have no idea where your child put his math book, and choosing to wear anything other than yoga pants results in a chorus of, “Oh, are we going somewhere today?”
Or is that just me? (Somehow, I don’t think it is.)
This syndrome – seeing others that have it all together – tends to be especially prevalent in the homeschool community. Your best friend’s child read fluently by age 6, while your 9-year-old is still struggling through Encyclopedia Brown. The lady you met at co op last week plans out the most amazing units for her kids to enjoy, and they’re happily involved in everything. Sports, church, band, community theater, volunteering…everything. Meanwhile, you’re hoping you remembered to defrost something for dinner.
How the heck do they do it?
Homeschooling’s Best Kept Secret
Can I share something with you? Promise not to tell? (Actually, it’s just fine if you tell. Please do!)
How do they do it? Well, they don’t.
At least not like you might think they do.
You see, every single one of us – even the SuperMoms out there – have areas where we fail. We have areas where we forget, fall apart, or just plain fall short. I know it doesn’t seem like it, but it’s true.
We simply don’t see those areas in others because we’re not looking for them. Instead, we tend to look for things that feed our own insecurities.
We probably ought to stop doing that.
Games We Play
There are a lot of ways we do this, but here are some of the more common games to avoid:
The Comparison Game
In this game, we tend to fill our time by focusing on our weaknesses while seeing only other people’s strengths. This way, we can build up our own insecurities to a deafening level before deciding that we truly don’t know what we’re doing.
It’s not very fun, but it’s somehow oddly satisfying, which is probably why we keep doing it.
The “I’m Better Than You” Game
This one allows us to turn our insecurities around in order to not feel them quite so much. In it, we compare our schedule, curriculum, electives, or extracurricular activities with those of other families and figure out how ours is better. Our choice is more rigorous, more creative, pays more for a better coach. That way, when we feel like we’re on our own, at least we know that we’ve done our best.
This one is actually kind of fun for a while, but it ends up being pretty empty in the end.
The “I’m Just Going to Do My Own Thing” Game
Now, don’t get me wrong. Doing your own thing is actually a good thing. I encourage it, strongly. But there’s a game we tend to play that involves rationalizing separating ourselves from community and activities because we just don’t need them. (In reality, this usually happens in order to separate ourselves from a community or activities that just didn’t work out.) That’s where things can get a little off track.
You see, we need some sort of community. We need something, generally speaking, that gets us out of the house and connects us with others. It doesn’t have to be a homeschool activity, group meeting, or class…but there should be something. Otherwise, it’s just too easy to disconnect. And when we disconnect, we lose any chance at support or encouragement.
So instead of allowing yourself to become a hermit to do your own thing, find something that you actually want to do and people that you enjoy doing it with – either in person or online. Or both.
Keeping It Real
A lot of people thought I had it all together for years, and it took me the longest time to figure out why. I sure didn’t think I did, that’s for sure!
It turns out that people thought that because a) I’m good at the subjects that a lot of other people are scared to approach and b) because I love to research all things homeschool. I happen to be good at figuring out what will help individual kids learn, and I’m not afraid to take that instruction out of the box when needed.
However, this isn’t because I’m some sort of SuperMom…just the opposite, in fact. I had to learn some of those skills in order to teach my extremely out-of-the-box kid. I happen to be good at odd things, but I fall short in things that a lot of other people are good at. I can help you find the perfect math book for your child, because I’ve tried just about every one of them…but I can’t teach math to save my life. (Literally. My kid surpassed me in math when he was 11.)
I’m that annoying mom who loves to plan and implement the unit studies that have everything, but there were years I actually forgot that my child was taking some subject or another. His junior year in high school, my son asked me if I was planning to assign him anything for Economics – anything at all. My response? “Oh…yeah – you are taking Econ this year, aren’t you?” It was February. Sigh. (Thank goodness we schooled year round!)
My point is, no matter how “together” you think any other mom is, she’s not. We all fall short somewhere. We’re all imperfect in some way, yet each one of us is the perfect mom for our children. That’s why they’re ours, and we’re theirs.
So no more comparing, ok?
Instead of comparing yourself to anyone else, look for ways that you can encourage others, learn from them, and see them for who they really are – the strengths and the weaknesses. In the same way, decide to see your own strengths along with your weaknesses. Are you amazing at inspiring kids to love books? Can you cook like nobody’s business (and actually enjoy doing so with kids)? Are you great at organizing and structuring a plan that can actually work?
Do you simply love others enough to look past their faults and are willing to let them do the same for you?
You see, the only way we really keep it together is by helping each other keep it together. I am so incredibly thankful for friends that came alongside me and were willing to shore me up when I felt weak. In return, they were willing to let me do the same for them. I’m incredibly thankful for the men and women who cared enough to teach my son things they were passionate about, and I’m humbled that many of them allowed me to do the same.
We went our own way when that’s what worked best, but the support of others who “get it” was what really kept me together. It’s that important.
Wrapping It Up
There are so many ways of giving and gaining support these days – online, in-person support groups, getting together with friends (whether to co op or to just hang out). What is the way that’s working best for you right now? Comment below – I’d love to hear how you’re doing!
*Please note that your confirmation email will come from Jen at A Helping Hand Homeschool (firstname.lastname@example.org). Please “white list” this email address so you don’t miss it!