Yes, I’m A Nerdy, Dorky, Imperfect Homeschool Mom

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I (left) was the only homeschool kid in my family (out of 5).

* Column of the Week:

I am a second-generation homeschool mom.

This means that not only did my mother homeschool me growing up (from the second grade onward), but I am also preparing to homeschool my children as well. At the time when my mother first decided to homeschool me, my four older siblings thought she was completely insane and had no problem telling her so. They voiced the usual complaints: “She’s going to have no social life” or “She won’t know how to interact with other kids!” It’s as if they thought that by removing me from a school, I’d end up with the psychological stability of Joaquin Phoenix on a good day, or moving to some strange, abandoned island a la Johnny Depp.

And even though it’s clear that homeschooling didn’t take away my odd preference for useless celebrity factoids, my family still thought it was just another one of my mother’s “phases” (like when she decided to become a vegetarian or started talking to the flowers in her garden). But just like she hasn’t touched meat in 30 years and still has the most emotionally secure petunias I’ve ever seen, this phase stuck too. In fact, I took so well to homeschooling (becoming the outgoing, happy, drama-free antithesis to my older siblings fears) that my eldest sister eventually went on to homeschool her three children as well.

Now that I am a mother of two daughters myself, I understand the value of homeschooling on a first hand basis. But that’s not to say that there aren’t some serious drawbacks to being a Homeschooling Mom 2.0. This latest model comes with an economic downfall (making Calvert school literature look like the Gucci of curriculum), more social awareness (which means more negative comments on my Facebook wall), and yes, more expectations placed on mothers in general.

My husband lost his job 6 months ago because of the economy, and it took a devastating effect on our finances. I went from being a penny pinching, frugal, stingy mom, to being a distracted, disenchanted mother all together. Instead of worrying about my youngest daughter’s special needs, I found myself freelancing faster than you can say “carpel tunnel”. While we used to go on field trips to local museums or discuss the concept of addition over dinner, I now fixated on bills, bank accounts and boring mathematics (just don’t tell my kids I think math is boring).

My youngest enjoying some time to herself…

Suddenly I wasn’t being the homeschooling mother I wanted to be, but exactly what my siblings used to dread. We weren’t visiting local co-ops, joining tons of clubs and learning from a variety of friends and family. We didn’t jump into different activities or let our life do the teaching. My daughter not only wasn’t benefitting from being trapped at home with her stressed out mom…she was actually losing out on the experience she so deserved. In the end, I decided to place my daughter in a lovely, church-run preschool nearby for a few days a week. We needed time to work ourselves out of this financial hole so that I could give homeschooling the focus it deserves. Luckily, the closer we get to the new school year, the closer I am to rejoining my daughter in her educational expedition once again.

Recently she came home from her morning at school and exclaimed, “Mommy, my teacher taught me how to write my name!” I rejoiced and congratulated her on this amazing news, but secretly felt one emotion that only homeschooling moms could understand: sadness. My daughter’s educational triumphs shouldn’t be attributed to my good choice of school or lucky assignment of teacher…I want it to be because I shared that experience with her. If she needs to take some extra time on a difficult problem, I want to be the person cheering her on. Let’s face it: when push comes to shove, homeschooling isn’t just about teaching your child to read or learning how to multiply.

Homeschooling is about being present for the moment when your child finally understands something to which they’ve always struggled. It’s about climbing mountains together (both metaphorically and on the token nature hike), instead of giving them a sticker for their efforts later. It’s about being present in the most important journey your child will ever take (as messy, chaotic and stressful as that sometimes might be), and not given the usual “I don’t know” when asked what they learned that day.

So even though I might not be achieving my own goals as a mom right now, I’m trying to do what homeschooling has taught me…. to roll with the punches. Times get tough, problems get trickier and projects get stickier, but it’s about the steps along the way that really count. Plus, even if I’m more of a part-timer at the moment, there is no doubt about the fact that my heart belongs to homeschool.

If you’ve ever been stared at like a leper after announcing your plan to homeschool while visiting that pearl-clad Moms Club…you know you’re a homeschool mom. If you’ve ever literally jumped with glee when finding a way to connect the subplot of Glee with sociological problems in Rwanda…. you’re a homeschool mom. And if you’ve ever gone to the grocery store with a six year old, calculator and coupons, whilst pitching the term “learning experience”…you sure as heck are a homeschool mom.

There is no perfect way to homeschool, just like there are no perfect moms. The best that we can do is make an effort, get involved, and try to enjoy ourselves every step of the way.

Don’t worry…our kids will thank us later.

* For More On Teaching Your Child To Read, visit this link!

* Bailey Vincent Clark is the Editor-in-chief, author and founder of Makeover Momma. She hosts Makeover Momma TV on Tuesday (7 PM/EST & 4 PM/PT), and writes this column whenever she has time (i.e. never!)

Makeover Mommaâ„¢ occasionally receives cosmetic products for review, with no obligation to positively promote or cover said brand. Receiving products has absolutely no influence over our recommendation of any particular product.


Posted in 2008 - 2011 Tagged with: , , , , , , , , ,
4 comments on “Yes, I’m A Nerdy, Dorky, Imperfect Homeschool Mom
  1. Sarah Dymond says:

    Soooo happy yiu are homeschooling too!! We started this year with “pre-school”, just to give the kids a taste for being at home. We will really focus on it starting in August, but both kids LOVE learning at home!! I’m so thankful our moms did it for us!

  2. Michelle B says:

    I could never homeschool. I don’t patience to teach. There is no way.
    I give mad props to moms who can do it. It takes a lot of patience and persistence that I just don’t have.
    Before blogging, I didn’t have a lot of knowledge about this subject, I still don’t actually. Before, I just thought it was something that certain religions do… :)I now see that it’s actually much more common than I thought.

  3. Gleamer says:

    I’m sorry you are going through such a tough time Bailey. Hugs…

  4. Hi Bailey,
    Just for fun, I googled the name of the blog post I just wrote today, and yours came up, because it’s almost the same! I’m a second-generation homeschooling mom too. I can relate with your post on so many levels. Thanks for putting it into words.

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