Homeschool mothers are their own worst critics.
The subject doesn’t often come up, but occasionally someone will discover I was homeschooled. My mother taught my siblings and me at home from third grade until I graduated high school. Most people don’t really care about my education before college, but homeschool mothers pepper me with questions.
What curriculum did you use? What was your schedule like? Did you have issues getting into college? What did you love about it? What would you have changed?
I know why they ask.
They have a list of all the things they have heard about homeschooling. It is a comprehensive checklist of things they should and shouldn’t be doing based on science, research, and what other mothers tell them. Homeschooling is accepted, but they still get weird stares when they take their children out during the day. They want some confirmation that they aren’t ruining their kids’ lives. They want validation.
Of course, I answer their questions, but I never get to say everything I want.
So, here is an open letter to all homeschool mothers:
Mom, we know you are trying your best. I know you would like a straightforward answer, but there isn’t one, single right answer to all your questions. Every child is unique and different. What worked for me 10 years ago may or may not work for your 10-year-old son today. Take a deep breath and realize this is okay.
Mothers always try their best to teach their children, but let’s face it, once they get to be teenagers, you aren’t teaching them as much as supervising them. It may have even happened sooner than in high school. You may feel guilty, but it comparatively sets your kids up for success.
In the real world, no one will hold their hand every step of the way. There is no one to micromanage their work and keep a record of when assignments are due. You may feel like you are abandoning your kids, but they know that isn’t the case. You are always there to answer their questions when they need you. In the meantime, your kids are learning to be independent.
Moms, you aren’t good in every subject area.
I used to shed literal tears over my high school math assignments, and my mother would throw up her arms in defeat. That was okay. Believe it or not, no one is perfect in every subject. We will never have the answer to everything. We know you are a mom, not Google. You will learn to hone your networking skills to find people in your social groups and community to help those times when you don’t have the answers. Finding people with subject matter knowledge is a skill too. Your kids will thank you for that skill.
Moms, you have been told that your kids are unsocialized and emotionally stunted. You and your kids learned quickly to stand up and face the criticisms well-meaning strangers had about their social well-being. Your kids have already subconsciously learned about believing in themselves and defending the truth. They also know making friends is not a task you take for granted. They don’t have the luxury of being surrounded by their peers all day. They’ll have to leave their comfort zone and seek out people. Your kids will make friends from diverse backgrounds, ages, ethnicities, socioeconomic statuses, and locales. It is an ability that translates well into adult social situations.
Moms, it is okay to enroll in co-ops and let your kids work. You can’t do it all, so there is no shame in having your kids get outside experience. Even teachers have time off. Your children will grow outside the family and pick up valuable skills from the people around them. Let them engage with controversial opinions and challenge you.
Moms, your kids are ready for the real world.
When I left home, I was capable of preparing meals, completing essential home maintenance, and managing complex schedules. I could keep myself busy when I was alone and was comfortable staying at home for long periods. I could enjoy my independence instead of scrambling to discover how to function. Sure, I may have never completed my old math assignments, but I learned how to coupon, mend my clothes, and unclog the sink and toilet. I gained life skills from experience. Your kids have as well.
Moms, it goes by quickly—even for us. You are trying to give them the world, but you are doing enough. Once they grow up, it won’t matter whether they have been prom queen or even been to a prom. Some people never leave their hometown while others travel the world. In the real world, no one could care less whether your child is the by-product of a public, private, or home school. What matters is how much you care for them.
I know no one has told you this in a while, but we are proud of you, mom. Thank you for all your hard work. Everything will be okay, really it will.