Many of the decisions I've made in the last ten years have not made sense. The least crazy of these were purchasing an additional car to accommodate a family I didn’t have and taking in a sibling group of five from foster care.
So, I do not think many of our friends and family were surprised when I quit my job to stay home and homeschool said five children.
It was the hardest thing I have ever done.
It’s much easier to quit a job you hate or leave a company that does not value you or your work. I had my dream job. I assisted the best of the best in the educational world. I served a team of incredible staff. I got to love a variety of students.
In addition, because I worked in my children’s school district, I had many of the same days off as they did. I had more paid holidays than I could have ever wished for ten years ago. My flexible and understanding administrators never batted an eye when I got the dreaded phone call from the school nurse.
To quit meant giving all that up, likely to never have it again. It also meant sacrificing some of the “luxuries” we had grown accustomed to (an Amazon package a day…am I right??).
So how did I do it? Why did I decide to take that leap into the unknown of homeschooling? I could not even teach my kids how to tie their shoes, much less teach them pre-Algebra!
The truth is, when our kids came to live with us, my purpose shifted. I started feeling unrest in our day-to-day. I noticed that the kids spent more time in school and after-school care than at home. My patience and level of interest in them began to drop. I came home exhausted every day and was not able to be much of a mom in the hours between coming home from work and bedtime. I felt incredibly guilty. And that led to anxiety.
I’d like to think I hid my anxiety pretty well but I am sure those close to me noticed. I became sharp, even at times cruel. I coped by hiding from my kids, husband, and friends. This, of course, made my guilt grow.
Why couldn’t I be the mother I wanted to be? Why couldn’t I be the mother my kids desperately needed and deserved? I looked around me and it seemed the other moms were able to keep it all together. Even volunteering in their kids' classes and keeping their house clean. What was wrong with me?
I was burning the candle at both ends. I was stretched too thin.
It took a year before we finally got the courage to do what God was calling us to do. We were terrified and crunched the numbers more times than I can remember. We knew it was what we were supposed to do, but we were still too scared to do it. We finally came to our point of surrender and said, “God, we know this is what you want us to do. Therefore, we trust that you will take care of the details we do not see an answer for.” Only then were we all able to feel excited.
I turned in my notice, we stopped eating out, only purchased necessities, and we got homeschool ideas from the kids. I still heard a whisper, “This is not the right choice,” until the day that my most reluctant child, the middle child, expressed her approval.
We are now four weeks into this new adventure and I still do not have it all figured out. I don’t have time to do laundry during the day, and it is an incredible feat when I have dinner on the table when my husband comes home. There are days we are working so hard on school work that we do not eat lunch until 1:00 pm. It certainly doesn’t look like the well-oiled machine I intended.
You see, we’re only human and there is no such thing as a super-mom. The mom who volunteers at every classroom party has likely sacrificed something else to be there. The mom whose house is always clean and tidy might have given up something else to make it so.
Quitting your job is not the answer for everyone but perhaps quitting something is. Giving up that extra season of sports, classroom parties, or home-cooked meals might be your answer. It will not be easy. It will be good.