I am a proud Boy Mom of 3 and, at the time of the story I’m going to share with you, my little guys were 16, 14 and 10. I pride myself on being very intentional with my kiddos, but I’ve learned a thing or two about intentions. From my perspective, I’m always motivated by love and motherly concern. It’s crazy to think that I can make such horrible mistakes and do so much damage even with a motive of love.
I began homeschooling my kids when my oldest was entering into the 6th grade. I went at it alone my first year with no community or friends that homeschooled. I could be found many days in the fetal position on the bathroom floor uttering something no other human could understand. My second year as a homeschool mom, the Lord heard my cries and lead me to a local homeschool community. This changed everything about our experience.
So, here I am finally able to get off the bathroom floor and cruising with this new life as a homeschool mom. This doesn’t mean that I was immune to the fears and doubts that seem to plague the minds of homeschool parents everywhere. Or am I the only one that hears that voice? That constant whisper in my head that I’m screwing my kids up and the whole world is watching. I danced daily with a partner named “shame.”
Here is the thing about shame…in order for shame to grow and succeed in its only quest, which is to stop a person from fulfilling their purpose, it must be fed. Fed with unrealistic expectations, secrecy, silence, isolation and judgment. Empathy is the antidote for shame.
When shame entered the Garden of Eden, Adam and Eve ran for cover, because they realized they were naked and exposed! What did God do? He asked them “where are you?” Why would an all-knowing God ask any question? The question was not for God to consider the answer, it was for Adam and Eve to consider the answer. They needed to answer the question for themselves. Because in order to know where you need to be, you first must acknowledge where you are!
But, what about our little Adams and our little Eves? Do we always know where they are, spiritually, mentally, emotionally? Do we always know exactly how to guide them, encourage them, discipline them? I mean, we are their well intended mothers after all.
So, we’re now part of this homeschool community that meets once a week. My oldest is participating in Latin, Logic, Debate, and the like, and his peers are cream of the crop. They were somewhat of an intimidating crowd of high achievers. In fact, their moms were holding the bar quite high, which intimidated me at times.
One day, there was a planning meeting scheduled on campus. It just so happens that my oldest son had a presentation due that day as well. As chance would have it, the meeting was completed in time for most of the moms to pop in and watch the students’ presentations.
The students were to choose a piece of art, analyze it and give an oral presentation on what biblical truths they could pull from the piece. The first few presentations blew my mind. These students were so articulate and presented with such great depth, I forgot I was sitting in a 10th grade class. College professors would have been impressed with these students. Honestly, I was so inspired I just thought “these are the kids that will save our republic…our sleeping giants!” The essays they read were simply stellar. I was reminded of the intimidation factor.
Then it was my son’s turn. He got up, he had no paper, just a notecard and he proceeded to give his presentation. Public speaking is his least favorite thing about this community. He had some awkward silent moments, it was a short and to the point presentation. He was able to make some parallels to stricture, but by comparison to the other students, it didn’t even look like the same assignment.
I’m sitting in the back of the room with the intimidating mamas and the shame crept in and rested upon me like a blanket of fire. In the midst of all of these moms and tutors, I was now exposed for the failure I always knew I was. I slipped out of the class after the final presentation and spent the remainder of the day in complete turmoil. I exchanged my personal shame for anger and disappointment toward my son and his obvious shortcuts and lack of attention to his project. I began to build my case and rehearsed my lines, because I was going to give this boy a piece of my mind when he got home. Only, he didn’t come home that night. He caught a ride with a friend and ended up staying overnight at his friend’s house, which I was thankful for so I could have more time to work on my case.
The next day, I was still seething, but I reached out to my son’s tutor and another homeschool mom for help. Don’t miss this…it’s important! Within seconds of hitting send on an email I typed up that explained my concern for my student’s complete failure, his tutor responded. With grace and truth, she shed some light on the whole situation and gave me a complete 180 degree perspective change of the whole thing.
Admittedly, I should have been more in tune with the details of the assignment, but he was owning his own education at this point and I had taken my hand off his agenda to give him a bit more room to manage his work load. What I had failed to understand is that the actual assignment was NOT to write a long, articulate essay, but to practice oral presentation skills with only a few key notes. It was to deliver an almost impromptu speech. His tutor reminded me that my son had never done this before, let alone on the subject of a piece of art (not even close to the top of his priority list). So, it turns out, he was one of the few that actually did the real assignment and thus he did it quite well. As if that wasn’t enough to set me straight, his tutor also shared with me that my son had received the highest score in the class on his logic exam (one of the hardest exams) that same day. I was floored. I had no idea!
As soon as my son returned home that afternoon, the first thing I asked him about was his logic exam. Do you know what he shared with me? With tears in his eyes, he said “Mom, I just wanted to do good on ONE subject.” He’d really studied his butt off to achieve that score. Then it all hit me at once, the veil was removed and the truth was laid out before me. While I was getting ready to “set that boy straight on his slackness” the Lord was dealing with him on his lack of self-confidence. You see, I didn’t know that he had felt, all along, as the bottom of the food chain in his class. I didn’t know that he began his studies every day accepting the fact that his performance would always be lowest amongst his peers. But God was dealing with him. And somehow, God convinced him to consider the idea that maybe he is not at all the bottom, but that there was something real inside him that he needed to rise to.
I was one degree from being the voice of the enemy in the ears and heart of my son, while God was trying to call him to rise. God caused those delays and kept him from coming home that day. God protected my son from me!
Adam where are you?
I thought I knew where my son was and exactly what he needed. I thought I needed to give him a piece of my mind and discipline him to get him back on track. I was so far off the mark. Thank God for protecting my beloved son from me.
Disaster was diverted! And God used a community of homeschool moms to be His hands and feet and do His work that day.
Of all the naysayers out there, the one that speaks the loudest to me…is me. But, there are other critics that can really tear us down and convince us we are screwing up.
I’m willing to walk through fire for my children. I’m willing to take on the devil himself. But, now that I recognize how much power I have to affect and influence my children’s view on themselves, their Creator and Savior and the world around them, I realize that my well intended motives will not protect them. Nothing short of dying to thine self every single day and placing them and myself in the hands of God will save any of us. I do not trust in myself, but wholly in a God that loves my kids far more than I do. He is the only hope any of us have in raising our babies well.
Read more about the importance of community here: Three Absolutes for Homeschooling