I think there is a simple truth that applies in almost every area of life - we only see what we are shown. To put it another way, we see what someone is willing to show us, and that's often the sweet, lovely, crafted, Photoshop-ped version of life. I do think, though, that there is a unique temptation within the homeschool community to idolize and hero-worship "that" family. Whether we actively homeschool or simply interact with homeschoolers, we need to be aware of this fact, because believing that the highlights (or gag reel) are the whole show does everyone a disservice.
What am I talking about?
- The family who started school in July because the kids were so excited to get into their new books? Those kids still would probably rather ditch school to play in the dirt/leaves/snow/water, if given half the chance.
- The mom who taught her baby to sit quietly on her lap while she teaches her older kids? That baby still cries when she teethes, does horrendous diapers and wants to be held when there are no free hands.
- The oldest child who's a great help around the house? It took a lot of time, energy and dedication to train him, and that's still no guarantee that he will always do his best effort, every time, cheerfully.
- The husband who faithfully sends his wife out for a couple hours of alone time every week? He may still leave the toilet seat up, his socks on the couch, or forget their anniversary.
- That amazing lady who has a clean home, scrapbooks, serves in church and has great hair/nails/workouts? She works extremely hard to make it happen, probably gets help in some area, and doesn't do everything. Maybe she doesn't watch the latest TV shows, read a lot of books or get enough sleep. Anyway you slice it, she doesn't do something.
Grateful - I might not scrapbook, but I'm sure thankful my mom does. She made me a scrapbook with all sorts of incredible family history in it. I couldn't have done it, and wouldn't have enjoyed it if I tried, but now I have this wonderful collection of family history to thank God for and show my children. I don't feel bad that I don't make a scrapbook for each of my children every year, but I'm grateful that my mom has those skills and passions.
God is working - Most of my kids are not self-starters and they often drive each other nuts, which makes it all the sweeter when one kid will read to the others, when one of them works extra hard at an assignment, or when one chooses to share with or encourage another. God is at work in their lives, even if it's not always obvious, because He loves them.
Be a blessing - When I've looked at my friends with eyes of envy, I've failed to notice where they may be in need. Maybe the hard work of child training is discouraging, maybe she's exhausted from another sleepless night, or maybe, just maybe, she's simply needing to hear how much God loves her and that you'll be praying for her. Wouldn't you like to hear that, too?
Rather than spending my time thinking about how someone else's life looks and how mine doesn't quite measure up, I want to spend more time thanking God for the grace in their lives, looking for the grace in my own family's life, and seeing how God would have us serve and bless those around us. Cause no one's got it all together this side of Glory, and I don't want to miss all He's doing right here, right now.