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I'm a wife to my "Mr. Right". A momma of five. A maker of slow food and simple living. A collector of memories, a keeper of books, and a champion for books that make memories. An addict who likes my half-and-half with a splash of coffee. A fractured pot transformed by the One Who makes broken things beautiful. I heart homeschooling, brake for libraries, and am glad you're here with me on the journey! Be sure to subscribe to my daily digest via email or RSS feed. Or, follow along with Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Google +, Youtube, or Pinterest.

Monday, November 9, 2015

Dear Homeschool Mom with Lots of Littles

An open letter to homeschool mom with lots of littles {from a mom who's been there}

Dear Homeschool Momma with lots of Littles, 

I see you.


I see you rushing into the co-op meeting carrying two babies and a diaper bag in your arms while dragging a crying toddler behind you.

I see the look of embarrassment and exasperation that you try to hide behind a well-rehearsed smile. 

I see you heave a sigh as you sit on the bench nursing your baby during a field trip while silently praying your other children won't wander out of reach.



An open letter to homeschool mom with lots of littles {from a mom who's been there}

I see you at the library trying to corral four sets of grabbing hands and one baby well-past-his-nap as you scour the shelves for a few good books. 

I see you avoiding eye contact with others as your push the shopping cart bus through the store hoping to make it through without the whispers and finger-pointing of those who don't know why "anyone would want to have so many children." 

I see that under your squared shoulders and resolute determination, you are tired. You are weary. You are worn thin. 

I see you because I was you. 

An open letter to homeschool mom with lots of littles {from a mom who's been there}

In the not so distant past, I was the homeschool mom with four littles under the age of five. (I eventually went on to have one more but by then, the gap was a bit wider...five under eight and oh.so.much. easier to manage.) I had one moving from kindergarten to first grade and I so desperately wanted to be the "good homeschool mom" for her sake. To provide her with those memorable "firsts" that all the other homeschool mommas talked about.

I wanted to plan the unit studies and make the lapbooks. 

I wanted to take the field trips and create the art projects.

I wanted to do all the worthwhile things that make learning worth learning.

But, I couldn't.

I was outnumbered...surrounded by LITTLE people and BIG messes.

An open letter to homeschool mom with lots of littles {from a mom who's been there}

That living-on-two-hours-of-sleep-and-twleve-cups-of-coffee season of lots of littles is mostly a blur at this point. But the one thing I can keenly remember about those days each time I see you drive up to the homeschool park day with a van crowded with car seats is how hard it was and how at the time I desperately wanted someone...anyone...to understand the hard-ness of it all. 

An open letter to homeschool mom with lots of littles {from a mom who's been there}

In those days, I was surrounded by veteran homeschoolers who each had one or two kids or whose many children were spaced far enough apart to allow for a slow-and-steady start to the journey. I have no doubt, those mommas had their own daily struggles because homeschooling is nothing if not a daily refinement. But their hurdles were different from mine. It was apples and oranges. I wanted to somehow pull all my "crazy" together and do homeschool like THEY had done it.

So many days felt like one hot mess of chaos after another. 

I didn't have enough arms...enough eyes...enough time...enough energy.

An open letter to homeschool mom with lots of littles {from a mom who's been there}

They were quick to offer expert opinions and well-intentioned advice. But, the fact of the matter is, I wasn't looking for a "perfect" plan to create the-best-homeschool-day-ever.

Nope.

What I wanted...NO...what I craved was for someone to SEE ME...for someone to understand and acknowledge how very hard it really was to spin all the plates...those many plates that naturally come with homeschooling lots of littles.

I wasn't looking for a banner or a trophy. Or a parade in my honor. 

I just needed a little solidarity from someone who had walked this same difficult road. I needed someone to show me the sacred in the mundane and remind me that there are miracles to be found in all the monotony of caring for lots of small people.

An open letter to homeschool mom with lots of littles {from a mom who's been there}

Well, sweet momma, I see you. 

I see you spinning all those plates. I see you holding your breath hoping they don't all come crashing down. I see you carrying around the weight of the illusive "perfect" homeschool day.

I see you. 

An open letter to homeschool mom with lots of littles {from a mom who's been there}

I won't offer you advice. That's not what you need.

I won't point out all the shoulda, coulda, woulda's...you do enough of that to yourself already.

I'll only say this...

An open letter to homeschool mom with lots of littles {from a mom who's been there}

You will make it.
You can do it. 
And what's more...you will look back on these days of my-homeschool-feels-like-a-blender-with-the-cap-off with fondness. 

I know it doesn't seem like it now. 
Right now you are having trouble seeing past this very moment of deafening noise and constant motion.
Right now you are just hoping to salvage each and every day.
Right now you are trying to convince yourself NOT to huddle in the corner to cry.

But, trust me. Fondness will find its way into your memories of today.

Recently, while looking through old photographs of those early homeschooling days, I was reminded of the beauty that only comes with hindsight. 

When I sifted through all those pictures, I didn't see the Sharpie marker that suddenly found its way to my bedspread and curtains and carpet during art time one day. I didn't see the store display shelf knocked over by a very curious tot during a spontaneous field trip. I didn't see the library book pages cut out by a boy who just learned to use his scissors. 

I just saw this.

An open letter to homeschool mom with lots of littles {from a mom who's been there}

The smiling faces of kids who were learning and growing and loving each other. 

And my daughter?...the one I was so worried I was failing because I couldn't seem to provide even one "normal" day for her? She's kind, and compassionate, smart, and determined.

She learned patience when it couldn't always be done "this very moment."
She learned gentleness when she had to help rock a crying baby.
She learned forgiveness when she had to start a project all over again.
She learned independence when she had to find the answer without my help.

Helping little brother create a page in his nature notebook by spelling words for him.


It's true what they say about raising children...the days are long, but the years are short. 

Sweet homeschool momma trying to do "good" with lots of littles, you, too, will look back and see smiling faces. You, too, will be able to enjoy the beauty and wonder of hindsight. And in the meantime, remember this...

I see you. 

I know it's hard. Really hard. 
But, God's got this. He's got you. He's got them. 



For more encouragement for the hard days, be sure to visit iHomeschool Network.


20 comments:

  1. I wish I'd understood this with my oldest ones were all little (4 in under 4 years). My oldest had special learning needs, and we didn't realize it, and everyone was so small and so needy! They are all teens and pre-teens now, and they are doing so very well. The fact that our schooling couldn't be defined by anyone doesn't seem to matter at all. Now I have 8 who are 8-and-under in addition to the first 4, and I am back in the same emotional state that I was before--wishing I could give kids a picture perfect educational experience instead of the real life we're living. I keep reminding us all that we might not be living the life we want, but we're living the life we need.

    Your post is a sweet and valuable one. :)

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    1. That's a good mantra to remember. Not always the life we want, but always the life we need.

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  2. Thanks!
    I just read your page, .... It's just what I need to hear....

    Heli

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  3. Great post, thank you for your words of encouragement.
    -Laura

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  4. Thank you for this. Right now I have a 7,6,4,2, and 6 month old. I needed this today.
    -Lindy

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    1. You're welcome. It sounds like you're a busy momma with lots of littles. Just remember, it's a season.

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  5. Thank you for this post! I was nearly in tears reading it, as I felt like you were talking straight to me. I only have three kids, ages 5, 3, and 6 months, but feel completely outnumbered and frazzled. And also very tired. :)

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    1. It is a difficult season, Maggie. But, remember, it is just a season. Be sure to give yourself plenty of grace. Hugs to you.

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  6. Bless your heart for writing this encouraging post... I'm raising my hand "this is me!" with buckets of tears streaming down my cheeks... Our soon-to-be 5 kids are not evenly spaced at all, ha! Homeschooling without any teaching background. Husband is crazy-busy with his job. I think I'll raise the priority of working on our photo albums; I can see from your sweet photos that this will do us all good. Love this post and all the pictures. I read infrequently (busy with kids!) but I so appreciate your blog!

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    1. Oh, Laura, I'm so glad you found this post. Remember that God can redeem even the tough days. There will be many of them, for sure. But, he is a BIG God!

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  7. Is that bowl full of the contents of the French Dressing bottle? My 2 yo just did that with the maple syrup :) Gotta love it!

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  8. I'm in tears! Thank you so much for this. I have three boys (5 and under) and I watch three girls (4 and under). I'm homeschooling. I just had a miscarriage. This season just feels rough. I feel like I'm failing all over the place!!! I so appreciate your blog and your videos. You truly inspire me! Seeing the things you do with your kiddos and the way that you have trained them up gives me the courage to keep going. Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!

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    1. Big hugs, Amy. My heart breaks for your loss. Just know that HOME is always the first part of homeschool. If you need to, put school on the back burner during this difficult time.

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  9. This has me in tears. Thank you a million times for writing this. I have four littles (5, 4, 2, and 2 months). Oldest is doing 2nd grade, 4 year old has autism and dyspraxia, 2 year old has a global developmental delay, and 2 month old is a newborn (obviously). It's a struggle and I constantly feel like I'm failing. Thank you for seeing us. <3

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    1. You are in a difficult season, Kaylene. But, just remember, this is the season God has for you AND YOUR KIDS. There are things in this season, He wants for them. Trust that.

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  10. Thank you for this I have a 10, 8, 4, 2, and two month old. We are in the middle of our third move in 18 months. I often feel like I amn failing my little ones because I just don't have the time and energy to do all I want with them. We are slowly working at decluttering our home so we can focus more on what's important.

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    1. I love that last line! Determine what's important to you and your kids and dismiss all the rest with no guilt.

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  11. Thank you for the encouragement!!! I have triplet girls followed by a boy- 4 children in 3 years. We're homeschooling kindergarten with a toddler, living in a tiny house on a tiny income as my husband completes his residency. No family nearby and we've met just one other homeschool family thus far (with 2 children, and their family always seems more organized than mine!) Thank you for this beautiful post. I'm carrying it in my heart today.

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    1. I'm so glad it was encouraging, Katie. It sounds as if you've got busy days. Keep pressing forward. You can do it!

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