I lost it last night. I found myself with an hour to myself. One daughter was at church, the other at hockey practice. It should have been bliss. Instead, I sat in my chair with tears rolling down my face, wondering how I was going to survive another day of near-constant battle.
The decision to homeschool our younger daughter wasn't an easy one. I fully expected to be right here, right now, frustrated and exhausted. One of the major reasons we chose to homeschool this year is to deal with character. The trouble is you have to break down bad habits before you can build up new ones. And the breaking down process is exhausting. Being day-in, day-out consistent is hard. Constantly being the parent on the front lines of the battle is as frustrating for me as it is for her being corrected.
I've sacrificed a lot to keep our daughter home this year. I gave up a settled schedule, time with friends, a consistent time to work, and I've even deferred my dreams of writing more. I live in a land of half-finished book outlines and blog ideas. And that's OK. I know this is best for her.
I just didn't know that progress would be so slow. I never imagined that I would want to throw up my hands and walk away -- five times a day. I didn't know just how wearing consistently challenging her attitude and correcting her behavior would be. I didn't know it would be mid-October, and I would still be fighting a near-constant battle to get her to control her tongue and her attitude.
And yesterday, I had reached the end of my rope. I just wanted to see an inch of movement forward. Instead, I felt as if I were banging my head against a brick wall. And I ran into another mom's quick post on Facebook about how much she loved homeschooling and couldn't understand why anyone wouldn't want their kids home with them all day. And I felt judged. I felt like a failure.
Because I don't love this. This is hard. This is frustrating. This is not what I had planned. Are there moments of joy? Absolutely. Are there days when I see tiny glimpses of progress? Yes. Do I know that this is what God called us to do? You betcha. Do I love it? No, I do not.
And, you know what? That's OK. Parenting is a picture of sacrifice. It's doing things that are best for our kids even when those things aren't our first choice. It's following God down the path He wants you to take for each child even when that path is one you'd rather not travel.
Because this year isn't just about growing my daughter. It's about growing me. God is making me a better parent, a better teacher, a better writer, a better follower. He's not just working on my daughter's character; He's working on mine. And that process for me is as painful as the character-building process is for my daughter. God has to break down my bad habits so He can build up new ones. I'm learning patience. I'm learning creativity. I'm learning to rely on God for the strength and wisdom to make it through every day -- because I certainly don't have it myself.
God's not nearly as interested in my comfort as He is in my character, which is why spending an evening in tears is actually a sign of progress for me. It's a sign of some of those rough edges in my character being rubbed off. It's an end-of-my-rope point of surrender. And that's when God can start building something new in me.
I may never love homeschooling. My daughter and I may never stop butting heads. But I know that only good can come from this year -- because God is faithful. He called us here for a reason. But maybe that reason has as much to do with my character as it does with my daughter's.