Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Looking Back

One thing that I think about all the time is how much better I could have done at homeschooling my kids when they were little. I very much let my own predilections dictate what we would do and how. I often make the distinction between homeschoolers and people who homeschool. We fall into the latter category. I think most people who know my kids in real life would vouch for the fact that they don't come off as homeschooled. They dress normally (whatever the heck that is - in my house I guess it's tank tops, skinny jeans, and shorts that I consider too short). They are very aware of pop culture trends and fads. My daughters wear makeup. All of my kids are perfectly capable of "socializing" (ugh) and making friends (now, whether they choose to or not is another story altogether). As for me, I'm a mom who homeschools, not a homeschool mom. To wit, I have never owned a denim skirt. Yes, my hair is long, but it also sees a hairdresser every six weeks like clockwork. I wear oodles of makeup. I listen to Eminem and metal.

This sounds like a digression, but it's really not. You know that image you have of homeschoolers who go on awesome field trips, who make an art project out of *anything*, and who do very cool "learny" things all day? Yeah, that's not us. Now, until very recently I did read aloud to my younger three kids *a lot*, but I have also read aloud to my husband ever since I met him, so I don't consider that particularly homeschooly - that's just what we do in my family. My kids use a fair number of textbooks (I know - the shame!). They do worksheets. They work on the computer a ton. Lots of very unhomeschooly things (but you know what? You can't even really say that anymore - there are so many homeschoolers out there! And they are doing so many different things! My kids are actually not normal among the homeschoolers we know because we don't do any kind of co-op. I refuse to hand over control of their coursework to anyone else. If I'm going to do this thing, then *I'm* going to do this thing.)

Now that did turn into a digression. My point initially was that as I look back, and especially as I read the blogs of homeschooling moms with younger kids, I realize that I could have done things a lot better when my kids were younger. They could have had more fun along the way. I could have broken out of my comfort zone. I could have let up on the academics a little to embrace the fun a bit more. Maybe my kids needed that. I'm quite sure they would have enjoyed getting out a bit more (INTROVERT PROBLEMS!).

Here's the thing, though. You don't get to go back. If there is one thing I realize more and more the older I get (and I am *old*, y'all), it's that the person you are now is not the person you were then (I know - deep). Of course I would do things differently now. I've been doing this for almost ten years. I know so much more now. I am slightly handicapped (although I really tend to think of it more as being empowered) by the fact that I don't/won't ask for help or advice the vast majority of the time. When I started homeschooling, I just did it. I put together my own curriculum (many parts different for each of my four children - true both then and now) and went for it.

Also (does anyone else feel this way?), looking back really is a form of self-indulgence, isn't it? If I let myself, I can look back endlessly at my life and berate myself for many of my choices. Thankfully, I don't regret any of my major life choices: college, husband, etc. I go back and forth on grad school. In many ways it seems like a huge waste of 7.5 years, but in the end I came out with a degree that, for better or for worse, no one can ever take away. That and $4.00 will buy me a cup of coffee.

I guess what I'm trying to say is twofold: first, to echo my kids' shooting coach - your most important shot is the one you are taking right now. The shot you already took is gone. It's only important to the extent that you can figure out what you can do to improve on it. But when it's done, it's done. Same with life's choices and events. They're done. The decisions have been made. You can't go back. Focus on the now. The most important day is today. Also, it will be fine. No matter how you homeschooled, regardless of the curriculum you chose, the art projects you did or didn't do, the field trips you did or didn't take, it will be fine. Your kids will have learned. It will be fine.


  1. Love your reflection, L. Insightful and witty, as always. Your conclusion reminds me of a quote I have taped to my desk: "To escape the distress caused by regret for the past or fear about the future, this is the rule to follow: Leave the past to the infinite mercy of God, the future to His good Providence, and give the present wholly to His love by being faithful to His grace." (Jean-Pierre de Caussade, "Abandonment to Divine Providence") There's a similar quote (I think from our beloved Little Flower? Or maybe it's SJV?) about how Satan wants us to dwell on the past and future, because we can't control either, and he can then effectively help us squander the present by obsessing over them.

    Thank you for this post. I'm going to read it occasionally and remind myself that the present moment matters most when it comes to being the best wife and mom I can be.

  2. You are very generous. Thank you!

  3. Well written, as usual. We all have regrets...but we can only move forward if we don't dwell on them. You have done a great job of making that clear.