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 monthly newsletter. Or, follow along with Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Google +, Youtube, or Pinterest.

When You Forget How Hard It Was

siblings doing schoolwork

Written by Krista Smith.

“Mom! I am never going to figure this out! I don’t understand how it works and I’m tired of feeling stupid.”

I wish I could tell you that I have always had a hug and a wise answer on the other side of that sentence. But, sadly, I have blown it. Many times. And sometimes, even when nothing comes out of my mouth, I blow it in my mind. The Lord, in His goodness, has given me grace in this area even as I continue to stumble through these sometimes-difficult days with my children.

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When You Forget How Hard It Was #Christianmom #homeschoolmom

Remember What it’s Like

Once, during just such an incident, Jesus broke through my impatience and brought a memory to mind.

In a flash, I was transported back to the first grade, sitting on the ugly brown shag carpet of my first home. With my mom by my side, a pencil in hand, and my math homework laid out in front of me, I remember saying these words, “Mom! I am never going to understand subtraction! I get how to add more, but I don’t understand ‘take away’.”

With big teardrops running down my cheeks, I’d hit a wall. I wasn’t being oppositionally defiant. I wasn’t trying to be difficult, or slow down my mom’s day, or her ability to get dinner on the table. I just couldn’t put the pieces of this mathematical mystery called subtraction together in a way that made sense. I don’t remember if my mom was frustrated with me or not, I don’t even remember what she said or how she tried to explain it, but I left that deflating math homework session thinking something was wrong with me; that my mom clearly thought subtraction was simple and I was defective for not understanding.

Jesus had brought one simple thirty-second memory back to me and I felt such conviction. “Yes, Lord. I see. I had forgotten how hard that was for me and how stupid I felt. I wasn’t trying to be difficult; I was just struggling. Oh, Lord, forgive me for being impatient with them.”

Remember Your Own Insignificance

Some of the best advice I’ve ever heard is to think often and think humbly about just how much you don’t know. Isaac Watts, well known for his logical reasoning as well as his memorable hymns, said in his book Improvement of the Mind
“You should therefore contrive and practice some proper methods to acquaint yourself with your own ignorance, and to impress your mind with a deep and painful sense of the low and imperfect degrees of your present knowledge…”

The purposeful humbling of myself regularly has been transformative in my life in general, but most especially as I teach my own children. They are not as far along or mature in many ways. But acknowledging all the things that remain befuddling to me and just how immature I can be on a daily basis, takes the wind out of my arrogant sails and reminds me to put myself in their struggling shoes.

Girl looking at a book

Remember to Listen Well

I am guilty of cutting my children off when they are trying to share with me what their particular struggles are--homeschool related or not—because I think I know the end of the sentence. Maybe I’ve heard this line of reasoning umpteen times already and I think I can finish the sentence for them. “Yes, yes, honey, I know. ‘You’re never going to use algebra in your daily life’, but…” and then I launch into all the reasons why it doesn’t matter--why obeying me matters. And while obedience to parents as a reflection of obedience to Christ matters (BIG TIME!), so does my child’s heart. So does their mind. So does the fact that they are struggling and don’t seem to be able to find a way out of this dark tunnel with no apparent light at the end of it. 

I certainly have my own tunnels as a mom. There are seemingly hopeless situations in my life too. But do I remember that when I’m in my own tunnels of grief or confusion I don’t want someone to cut me off and tell me I just need to try harder? Most often, I want someone to listen—really try to understand where I’m coming from and what I am confused about. Only after they have an accurate picture of the problem are they ever really able to give wise, measured, Biblical advice that is of any help. 

Let me remember to listen to my children and really try my best to understand where they are and where their struggle really lies before I attempt to help them. I’ve found, that often just being “heard” is enough to calm them down and realign both their heads and their hearts.

Remember to Share Humbly

In her book Love-Centered Parenting, Crystal Paine reminds moms to share a time from their own life when they struggled with something similar, so their kids know they’re not alone. I can’t tell you how invaluable this advice has been. Sharing my failures, struggles, and triumphs with my children has opened up such sweet conversations about God’s grace and about the value of humility. There is something innately humbling about asking for help and admitting our failures.

"The way of a fool is right in his own eyes, but a wise man listens to advice." (Proverbs 12:15)

I want to open up the channels of communication and one of the best ways I’ve found to do this with a kid who is shutting down is to say, “Can I tell you a story? Well…this one time when I was about fourteen….” And then help them see that they aren't alone though it can feel like it at times. 

When your kids know you might not have all the answers but are willing to listen and have been where they are everybody wins. And more often than not, that algebra will get done too.


Krista Smith is blessed to be the mother of three beautiful children and is privileged to homeschool them using an eclectic variety of methods. She has a deep and abiding love for tan-colored coffee, spending time with her family, and seeing children find their forever homes through adoption. But above all of these things, Krista is, first and foremost, a lover and follower of Jesus Christ. So, may the Lord and His Gospel get every ounce of honor, glory, and credit for anything she writes, says, or does.


  1. This was so encouraging! Thank you for sharing and reminding me of the perspective I need to have as their teacher.

    1. Thank you for reading! Keep on. Your work matters even on the difficult days.

  2. This is so beautiful and speaks to my mama heart. I needed the encouragement today.