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January is here and it is the classic time for cabin fever to set into our lives. Even with the relatively mild winter here in Alaska, I still find myself feeling the walls closing in on me as the daylight hours are still quite short. You might think that after 8 years of homeschooling, I would have it all down so that cabin fever or ‘homeschooling burnout’ wouldn’t happen. Nope…not at all. If anything, the desire to continue homeschooling the boys has been drained from me in the past year. I keep trudging on, but my heart isn’t fully in it.
That’s not to say that I don’t believe homeschooling is a wonderful choice and even the choice for some of my boys. (For those who haven’t read about our hybrid homeschooling experience, we allowed our 6th grader to go to a local public school instead of remaining homeschooled. I’ve written about the choice to be hybrid homeschoolers and also a look back at the experience part way through last year.) Rather, I find that feelings of inadequacy settle in even though those feelings are rooted in my teen aged boys reluctance to get work done in something resembling a timely manner. I’ve taken it as a reflection of ME that they do not value time spent on schoolwork the same as me. Being with them nearly 24/7 just might make it more challenging to separate out what is mom’s responsibility (mentoring them and assisting as needed) and what is their responsibility (doing their schoolwork in a timely fashion and asking for help when needed rather than weeks of avoidance.) And, like pretty much every parent on the planet, I want to see them be successful in life which includes getting the necessary education for their chosen career path.
So, like other moms suffering from ‘burnout’, I start to dream about how life would be different if ALL the boys went to school. Fantasies of a clean house and wonderful homemade meals float through my brain.
Because, I just KNOW that if they were gone for several hours (roughly 9 am to 2:30 pm with no one home) each day I would have all this time to fulfill my role as wife and homemaker. However, I know deep down that they are just fantasies as having a picture perfect home is not where I’d want to spend my time. Instead, I would be busy writing or considering if I should be working out of the home and contributing to our family’s overall financial health.
Yet, when I spend time in prayer, I do not get any inkling that God is calling me to that particular lifestyle right now. Instead, it is more of a gentle reminder that I am where he currently wants me and that I need to make sure it isn’t my own attitude and expectations that need adjusting.
Over the past few weeks, the Scripture readings at Mass had first a big focus on waiting (for the season of Advent) and some on obedience (with Mary serving as an example of humble obedience to God.) Mary can truly epitomize the way we should be responding to God’s call. A few years ago, I wrote about answering God’s call with an eye towards Mary’s response.
While I would like to think I am always listening to God’s call and following where the Holy Spirit leads, I know that I am not always a willing participant. Yes, I can be one of those stubborn people who dig in their heels and wait for someone to pull me kicking and screaming to land where I need to be. I’d rather let the flesh (my selfish inclinations) take hold while pushing my spirit (which recognizes life is usually better when I am immediately obedient) to the sidelines.
If I think about it for a while, I often can start to question why I put up so much of a fight when I know that only makes the path that much harder. But, like Zechariah, I am still quicker to let fear of the unknown or just having to make a change rule me.
So….along with the idea of finding a way to break the mid-year doldrums in your homeschooling, I’d offer that my BEST suggestion is to carve out time for prayer and refocusing your heart to allow for obedience to God. It might seem painful now, but I know that the rewards down the line will be great.
Is obedience to God something that you struggle with in your life?
Is homeschooling becoming more of a struggle than joy for you or your family?