“Cast your bread on the waters: for you shall find it after many days.” Ecclesiastes 11:2

What Bread?  What Water?

Often those who start to homeschool begin to doubt themselves after awhile.  This is to be expected with any new endeavor, but Christians understand that these doubts are temporary.  Scripture tells us that we are to “cast our bread upon the waters”, and in many ways, the investment we make in our children’s education is our “bread”.  The passage above from Ecclesiastes also states that “we shall find it after many days”, that is, some time after casting it out upon the waters.  In other words, whatever we send out (cast) to others — and, by extrapolation,  to our children as they learn — comes back to us increased exponentially.  I believe this principle is as true as we educate our children as it is true when we invest time and resources to the care of the poor and afflicted.

If you embarked recently on a commitment to homeschool your children — no matter what their age — be encouraged! It is both a lovely and a worthy job to properly teach your children as you work into the fullness of your homeschooling journey.  Your path will have its ups and downs, as does all of life, but is eminently worth it.

Advice From a Twenty-Year Veteran

Never allow the enemy of your soul to convince you that you are not capable!  Remember: you are not “just a Mom”!!!  Frankly, the notion that any mother is “just” a Mom is both ludicrous and demeaning.  While our culture may not value women who choose to stay home with their children, or who sacrifice to both work at a job and homeschool their children, keep in mind that God does value it.  Undoubtedly your husband values it.  You value it, certainly.  I pray that your extended family values it, as well.

Whatever your circumstances, you and your husband were inspired to recreate your lifestyle and priorities as parents in order to homeschool.  There is nothing easy, nor should there be anything casual, about the decision to homeschool.  You as parents are your little ones’ most crucial teachers, the first teachers God assigned them, the teachers He anointed to care for and oversee their education.  They are fortunate you are willing to make the sacrifices necessary to homeschool them.  And, like the Marines, it’s the “toughest job you’ll ever love”.

The Ups and the Downs

You will be there to experience not only their first steps, but also the day they first read and write, the days they master something they’ve struggled with, the days they experience doing their utmost best, and the days they experience temporary failure and setbacks.  They will learn, and you will continue to learn, right along with them.  And, yes, there will be times when you want to tear your hair out, run toward the mountains, toy with going back to a ‘regular’ job, and wonder, “Why did I ever start doing this?”

However, there will be even more times when you will know the satisfaction of a job well done, of being overtaken with the joy of your investment in your children, and through these events you will know the mercy of the Lord.  You and your husband will taste the sweetness of God’s grace and inspiration, one day at a time, as you guide your children to become what God has gifted them to become.  In the fullness of time, you and your husband — and the children themselves — will see what those gifts are and begin to use them.

From the Other Side of the Journey

My husband and I are on the other side of the journey.  Our children are grown now.  Our son, our youngest, recently graduated from high school and is now a freshman in college, and our nest is essentially “empty”.  After twenty years of homeschooling and keeping after our two busy children, both of them are now adults.  Our oldest has been married for well over a year.

Sometimes people ask us if we regret the decision to homeschool.  Along the way, to be honest, there were times when we wondered that ourselves.  Those times were mercifully few and did not last for too long a season.  We knew what the Lord led us to do, and that never changed.  From the “other side” of the journey then, I can happily and emphatically say that we do not regret the effort or the time we put into our children.  At the same time, we enjoy just being the two of us again, and are happy that we have so many good memories to keep.  It is comforting and awe-inspiring to watch our children grow daily into their own responsibilities as adults.  We are blessed with an outstanding son-in-law, as well, so in a way, our nest has actually enlarged!

From Generation to Generation

My late mother was a staunch proponent of education.  She was trained in college to be an English teacher, and her knowledge of language and of English linguistics never faltered throughout her life.  I do not remember ever seeing her without at least two or three books – in various stages of being read – beside her chair .  At the age of 83, the year she died, she could still conjugate verbs from her knowledge of Latin grammar, and she was the one to whom we all turned with questions about reading, history, life in general, and English in particular.  She  was extremely proud of her grandchildren, and she accepted our decision to homeschool them with aplomb and enthusiasm.  She became one of their greatest cheerleaders.

My mother taught my siblings and me proper English phonetics and the joy of learning when we were each younger than five years old.  She continued her work with us after school hours, what is now euphemistically called “after-schooling”.  While each of the three of us had different reactions to public school, each of us thrived in our own ways during those years, but largely due to our mother’s investment in each of us.

All of this occurred between the 1940s and 1960s, long before homeschooling was an option.  I think if it had been available to her at the time, my mother might have tried it.  In later years, she loved her grandchildren, encouraged them, and defended them fiercely.  As their reading comprehension and vocabularies increased, she reveled in discovering their talents and often cogent views on many subjects.  As I embarked on my homeschooling journey in 1990, had I not discovered Spell to Write and Read, I am not sure I could have assisted them as well as I did.

My husband and I actually take little credit for that now, however.  We give that credit and glory to God.  Our children possess talents and gifts which cause both my husband and me to marvel.  While some of their abilities and inclinations we see as interesting re-creations of our own, there are many things they have already mastered in their young lives which clearly did not come from us, but from God.  It is a wonder!

Be Encouraged!

I now understand what my late mother used to tell me, “We deserve to enjoy our children: we put so much into them!”  Before our children grew up, I did not fully appreciate what she meant.  As with many things in life, I am like most people:  I did not often understand my parents’ wisdom until I became a parent myself.  Now I perceive what my mother’s comment actually meant:  love, hard work and sometimes, yes, “tough love”, somehow come together for all parents over the child-rearing years.  Yours will, too.

Not “Just” a Mom

So remember: you are not “just a Mom”.  You have decided to relinquish some of your own personal goals for the sake of your children.  I can tell you happily that when you are on the other side of your homeschooling journey, you too will eventually resume those interests again and pursue them wholeheartedly.  For now, however, cast yourself upon the waters of teaching your children: the waters of discovery, study, enrichment, and development, the waters which  will nurture the next generation.

What you cast upon those waters will surely return to you in ways you cannot begin to imagine now!  Trust the experience of those who have gone before you and enjoy the journey.

© Sarah Gunning Moser, All Rights Reserved, copyright November 8, 2010

© Photographs courtesy of Gregory Moser, All Rights Reserved, copyright 2010

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