What to do when you can’t

In case no one has noticed, I’ve been MIA around here. There are several reasons I want to share, hopefully to encourage some of you home educators. I hope my story isn’t too common, only because I don’t want anyone to go through what I did.

It all started more than three years ago. It began slowly and grew to take over my life. It became a giant obstacle that I couldn’t see around or get past. It was choking the very life out of me. It was, in a word, anxiety.

In the beginning it was just annoying but easy enough to manage. But like a cancer it grew and grew. It moved in, and brought with it depression. My days became an inky string of endless weeks. I struggled from hour to hour at times, trying to stay focused, trying not to panic. Many nights I paced the floor, my heart pounding out of my chest, trying to hang on until the crisis passed. I lost weight and looked ill. Many days I really felt like I might die and that was terrifying to me.

There were visits to the ER, to the doctor, to the counselor and [sometimes] to church. Just getting out of bed was a chore, and  trying to homeschool was completely overwhelming. I cried sobbed often. All of life seemed like a dark hole from which there was no hope of escape. No hope. None.

I had to make one of the most difficult decisions of my life. I had to put my children in school. The decision wasn’t hard because I think school is evil. It was hard because I thought I was a failure. I thought I was supposed to homeschool, so I was letting my family down because I couldn’t get myself together. I truly believe I was called to homeschool, so this wasn’t making sense to me.

I also had to get a job to pay for school, so that was a shock to my world as well. But it has been a good shock. I have met new people, gotten out of the house, done hard things and gotten a new perspective. And the money I make as a ICU RN is a nice addition to our household budget. The children have enjoyed school and I have also enjoyed delegating the educational responsibility for a while and simply wearing the hat of “mom.” I got a haircut and some new clothes because I actually felt like dressing up again. Hope has dawned on the inside, shining warm rays of joy in my heart. Thanks to God, counseling and medication I have finally returned to my “normal” and it is terrific.

This wasn’t a result of homeschooling per se, but of my response to it. I became obsessed with perfection, doing just the right thing to make sure my children “turned out right” and it was suffocating all of us. I was trying to be God, trying to ensure that if enough things were done right then they would be okay.

Looking back now, in a balanced state of mind, I would take my old self up in my arms and just hold her for a long time. I would give her a long rest and a cup of tea and nurture her. I would make sure her expectations were not too high and that she remembered to laugh and to shake off that nagging self-criticism. I would see that she had a real hobby and real life friends and time to breathe without guilt.

Will I homeschool again? I don’t know. I really hope so. Right now I am saying that I am on sabbatical for a year. I am praying about what God has for our family after that. But I am still sharing my thoughts here, encouraging home educators, offering my ideas on BPA and life and whatever else comes along. I hope you’ll continue on this life’s journey with me. I always enjoy another friend on this journey through life.

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