It’s funny how God doesn’t give us a script for our life. I am often frustrated with this fact– wondering where He is leading me and why. However, because we don’t have a script, the moments where we catch up with Him–where we see that He has had a plan all along, where the pieces slide and gloriously click into place–are all the more sweet because of the surprise that is coupled with our clarity. We can effortlessly offer credit where credit is always due, because He has managed our affairs very well without our meddling.
If you had asked me one month ago if I would ever home-school, I would have given you the answer I have given everyone for the past eight years, “I just pray God never calls me to that. I do not have the patience. I am not a teacher.” I had a bit of an ostrich’s viewpoint on the subject. I mainly tried to stay away from homeschooling conversations for fear I would feel that well-known prickle in my heart. I didn’t want a prickle to start urging me to keep my children home, we needed SPACE from each other, didn’t we?
Six-ish years ago, when my friend Lauren invited me to a “Mother Nurture” meeting, with little more explanation than it was a group of women that she looked up to that met once a month to…encourage each other, I accepted without question. All I knew was that I was learning a LOT from Lauren, and if I had the chance to meet the women that SHE was learning from, I did not plan to miss the opportunity. However, when we arrived and I found myself floating in a tumultuous sea of homeschooling Moms who were all talking about “Charlotte Mason”, “Living Books”, and “Nature”–that ostrich in me wanted to bolt for the door. Why had Lauren brought me here? Pace was nowhere near school age, Mary Aplin wasn’t even born yet, and I liked the idea of homeschooling about as much as I liked hot mayonnaise sandwiches.
But I didn’t bolt, I stayed, and I listened to the passion these women shared for teaching their children, spending as much of their days in open air as possible, inspiring children’s desire to learn by nurturing their natural curiosity about nature, creating beauty in a child’s learning environment, laying a feast of knowledge before a child and then allowing them to eat, and above all staying away from “twattle”. I listened quietly. Seeds were being planted that would lay dormant for a long time, but I never forgot Charlotte Mason’s name.
A few years later, Lauren and my (school teacher, book club, dear person) friend Stephanie started a school–really more of a whisper of a school, with 4 or 5 neighborhood girls coming to Stephanie’s home where she sort of home-schooled for their Moms, using Charlotte Mason’s principles. As the school grew, adding a few more students and another grade level, Stephanie and James bought our house in Birmingham and, not long after our family moved out, our old basement was transformed into Crestwood Day School. It was happening all around me, and I was an enthusiastic supporter, but I was primarily thankful for no homeschool pricks in my own heart.
Now fast-forward to this Christmas, 3 and a half years later. God has just confirmed in Jeremiah and me a desire to stay in the country and build, and I have been practicing acceptance of our fast-paced back-and-forth-all-day-long lifestyle. Ripping babies out of beds, nursing in the backseat of the car, hovering at Dad and Konie’s house in town for some of the little in-between segments when we don’t have time to go home but have a hard time being contained in the car…”I can do this Lord. If you’ve called me to it, I can do it.” That’s what I’ve been telling myself. And I really had moved into a quiet acceptance of our pace, most of the time. Then, Christmas break happened and when it was time to go back to school both girls came to me saying, “Mom, we don’t want to go back! We want to stay home with you.” … … …You do? Really? You mean that? And I suddenly realized that I didn’t want them to go back either. I wanted them home with me…badly. I wanted to be more than their chauffeur. I wanted to have time to teach them things that I value–like embroidery, or baking bread, or gardening, or horseback riding. There is no time for any of those things in a life where we do homework as quickly as we can between after school activities and bedtime.
I feel like my ostrich peeked one timid eye out of its hole. Just one eye! But with that eye out, Charlotte Mason’s name came immediately back to my mind and so did memories of that “Mother Nurture” meeting. I started doing some reading, online first, then I ordered a couple of books. At the same time, I told Jeremiah WHEN OUR HOUSE IS BUILT, I might be willing to CONSIDER homeschooling. Then, I started sharing Charlotte Mason’s philosophies with him, and we were amazed by how God had been working on his heart without either of us realizing it. Jeremiah has been on a rampage in the past few months, of trying to learn to name trees and birds and plants…and teaching all of these things to the girls and me. So much so that I gave him a set of field guides and a brass magnifying glass for Christmas–which are some of the first items Charlotte Mason suggests you purchase for your classroom.
I was tempted to shove my head back into the hole, I could no longer deny that my heart was being pricked, it was being pummeled. Everything was lining up too perfectly. This time, instead of hiding, I pulled my whole head out of my hole and looked homeschooling straight in the face.
The more I read, the more on fire I became. I heard my words change from “Maybe in a few years–when our house is built–we can hire a ‘Stephanie’ to teach our kids.”, to “I don’t think I can wait a few years, I want to do this as soon as possible.”, to “I am insanely jealous at the thought of anybody else getting to share this experience with our children, I want to teach them myself!”
There are so many more small, beautiful pieces to the puzzle. Many other seeds that were planted through the years–some in me, some in Jeremiah, and a few dear farmers that planted them, but it is with overwhelming excitement and more than a little trepidation that I tell you that next year I am going to homeschool Pace and Mary Aplin. I am hopeful that my friend Stephanie is going to bundle her curriculum for me to purchase so that we can be guided more directly through Charlotte Mason’s principles than any curriculum I have been able to find. Oh the joy I have in knowing Stephanie’s heart for children and literature and knowing how fortunate I am to have her skill as a resource! I am planning to blog the journey. I am believing that God doesn’t call us to something without hanging around to equip us for the work. I am delighted to see all the pieces clicking into place in a way that finally brings peace to my soul–and hopefully my home. I said peace, not quiet 😉 I feel SURE it will not be quiet.