In the midst of this quarantine I find myself panicking about the smallest things. This morning I remembered that our printer isn’t coming until Friday and I started to get all anxious about not being able to print off worksheets and activities. I am not even sure what makes me think that my kids will sit still to do a single worksheet. It’s the constant reel of social media photos playing in my mind of parents actually, you know, teaching their kids something and totally owning this homeschool mom thing.
This idea that I’m responsible for my kids’ education is daunting. Not because I don’t know how to read or write or do math, but because I am by far the most unorganized person I know. I love to make a good schedule, but after the first hour that bad boy goes out the window. I’m going to need a lot more than a schedule to get us through this quarantine.
I resist structure and routine and obligation and have been more than happy to put that responsibility on teachers and administrators who are better suited for the job. Yet I find myself here, obligated by quarantine regulations, to put structure and routine into our lives myself. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t afraid.
Here is what has been oddly comforting to me—it’s always in this place, in discomfort and in my weaknesses, that I dig deep and find out what I’m really made of. After all, that’s what this whole parenting journey has been from the beginning, right–me not having a clue, and being given grace with every single step?
In the end, when we look back on this quarantine no one will remember how many workbook pages you got through or how many books were read. We’ll remember that we were given what we’ve always been asking for more of – TIME. Hours upon hours of more time with the people that matter most to us; what a blessing. Don’t waste it or wish it away, because one day I believe we will look back on these weeks with a peculiar fondness and know that in the end, it was all a gift.
So instead of feeling massively outdone by every other mother, I am choosing to give myself a free pass and ((gasp)) NOT homeschool my kids through this outbreak. No worksheets. No flash cards. No times tables. Just us and the world and endless possibilities.
I find myself acknowledging that we are in a rare moment as parents. Learning isn’t about equations and punctuation and grammar. Yes—school is good at that, teachers are good at that, but what are YOU good at as a parent? What can YOU teach them about life, about the world, about themselves? I felt empowered by this today as I walked with my kids up and down a trail and watched them throw sticks into a river.
As we walked through the woods, they learned what a forest FEELS like. They saw colors in nature instead of on a screen. They not only saw water, but heard it, watching how it moved and what happened when a stick plunged into it. They felt the ground underneath their feet, explored how the puddles splashed and the mud stuck to their shoes. As we walked and my daughter complained about her situation, she learned perseverance, and when she made it to the end, she gained something more than information—she knows that she can do hard things.
We saw people as we walked who nodded their heads and greeted us, and with every interaction my kids learned social graces. They saw different kinds of people – races, ages, personalities – and their social inventory grew. For a few moments, none of us even thought about this quarantine. We were just us.
Of course we didn’t leave without arguments and tears, but we practiced the long lost art of apologizing. Every day we’re learning how to submit to each other instead of to our feelings. Every day we’re learning how to breathe in the anxiety and worries of the world and exhale joy and grace. We’re learning how to cope, and there’s no classroom for that better than a house full of people you love.
My point is this: whatever you’re skilled at, you already have everything you need to teach your children. What they will lose from 6 weeks of school closures and forced quarantine is nothing compared to what they, and you, can gain from being together. Life is not an equation, it’s an EXPERIENCE.