When I think about the books, blogs and people I've been drawn to over the past 12 years of our homeschooling journey, the ones I'm always drawn to the most are the messy-do-not-pretend-to-have-it-all-together kind of people.
Because I'm one of those people too.
Those who know me in *real life* know I love a good cry and a hug and will openly share (with people I trust) about our ups and downs. I'll be there in the trenches through the thick of it all to support you with love, meals, prayer and words of encouragement when I can and God knows how much it has meant to have the same given back to us.
We are willing to do 'messy' with people.
But the challenge is (when writing a blog like this or posting photos to social media accounts) that sometimes, because I'm selective (and rightly so) about what I share, others (who don't know me in real life) may think that we have a picture-perfect family.
Here's what I want to say about that: We don't.
We will never be and we never try to pretend to be more than who we are.
We are imperfectly perfect people, saved by grace trying to live out our lives in the best ways we can, ways that love God and love people well.
Do we always get it right?! NO FREAKING WAY! Not even close and that's ok because that is what life is like.
See, I think it's kind of a catch 22 - I want to selectively share our 'real life' but I'm mindful that all the ups and downs are not just mine. My children and my hubby deserve the respect and privacy to NOT have all our family stories aired online.
And so I've taken to the mindset now that whenever I read about anyone online, I just assume I'm only seeing a selected aspect of their life. I'm seeing what they are willing to share about. And that is ok.
Behind the scenes of our family photos and other homeschooling friends too, you might not see days when: the house looks like some kind of toxic waste system self-combusted inside my house and we literally have to have an entire day/week/most of the month just to get back on top of it and regain some semblance of normality. We have days where things are more relaxed because we've had a late night/unexpected visitors/someone has been ill/sensory meltdowns/autistic burnout/we've had a baby/a bad back/a trip out of town/we are grieving.....*insert your own reasons here*
As a homeschooler, you are NEVER called to replicate school at home despite the name. Even NESA (formerly the Board of Studies) representatives have told me over the years to make sure I don't try and force a schooled routine at home.
Why? Because they recognise that there is a continuum of learning.
They know that learning happens ALL THE TIME whether our kids are learning to wait patiently in a doctor's room (let's be honest - there are many adults who missed this lesson!), or that they are learning life skills as together we bake a meal for a sick neighbour, write a letter to a grandparent or build a design they've been thinking about in Minecraft. Learning happens as we read novels and poems together, hold space for elderly friends, pray for others, discuss ideas, look at great works of art, think about the way the world functions and how we can do our little bit to make it a better place.
I am so grateful that we have had the freedom to do what is needed when it is needed.
These past few weeks I have been quiet on the socials as I come to terms with more reduced capacity due to chronic illness that is not going away any time soon. Some days I have struggled terribly both physically and mentally with the pain, fatigue and other things that come with this journey I am on.
And it's ok that our learning looks different to how it has in the past. There are seasons and even in this one, I see the value of going at our own pace. I treasure the cuddles on the lounge and watching more independent learning skills develop.
Our kiddos have had the opportunity to learn to care for their things, their pets, for me, to be industrious, to work as a team and even help regulate their needs - all excellent life skills! Some days I've only managed sitting on the lounge reading aloud to them but those books have transported us to faraway lands. We've talked about dystopian worlds (reading 1984 with Ethan), about metaphors with the little ones as we read through Famous Five and about Australian history as we read about Lennie Gwyther (a 9 year old who travelled interstate to see the opening of the Sydney Harbour Bridge).
Look, here's what I really want to impress upon you.
If you are anything at all like me, on the days that you are not well, are feeling a bit depressed, are stressed out, have had sleepless nights with sick kids, are processing grief, are surrounded by a bomb of a house, don't even have energy to cook another dinner....on those days, you may hear all the accusations of the people that have looked in and had their 2 cents worth saying things like, "you're not going to know what to teach them" or "you're denying them the chance at a great education" or "you're not qualified for this"....etc.
See those are the days we seem to fall prey to the words that have been slung our way. Our minds might accuse with the words of others and so we actually have to INTENTIONALLY remind ourselves of truths right here in the midst of it all.
We have to remind ourselves that we are facilitators and that we do not need to know all there is to know in the world (in fact nobody does!) We have to remind ourselves that we are giving our kiddos a great education one that is designed for them even when life happens and that during these times we are equipping them with skills in independence, we are fostering their interests and we are helping them increase their capacity for empathy and emotional maturity. We know them the best and we care for them the most. We remind ourselves that as parents we are equipped and qualified to facilitate our children's learning: NESA agrees with this and has their own home education unit to support parents like us who feel called to homeschool our children.
We remind ourselves of these truths and then we live out our days in ways that definitely look different to our local schools' days but we also remind ourselves that this is ok.
Give yourself time and space to do life together, to follow interests, to encourage excellent character development, to process emotions, to allow yourself to grieve or heal, to devour great stories, to look at amazing art, listen to beautiful music, to travel to interesting places (if you can), to care deeply and sincerely for others, to live out your faith before a broken and hurting world.
I truly hope this encourages someone out there. These words I have lived and these are the same words I wish had been said to me early on in our journey learning at home.
Happy learning, Lusi x