“I need to cancel the interview.”
My daughter was twelve months old, time for me to return to work—if I was going to. I had a Master’s degree in Audiology, the study of hearing. I had worked for an otolaryngologist (ear, nose, and throat doctor) for a year, and then a year at the Arkansas School for the Deaf.
I enjoyed testing hearing and working with the hearing impaired. I could build a good career as an Audiologist and the interview position was a good one.
But, it didn’t feel right. Not yet.
My daughter needed me, and I needed to be there to watch her grow up and to guide her through the years.
I cancelled the interview, determined to stay home and rear my children myself. Two more daughters followed, and I dug into the lifestyle of being a stay-at-home mom. When my oldest daughter was school age, she was already reading second or third grade material, so we decided to home school.
Slowly, I understood that I wasn’t ever going to return to work as an audiologist. And I found comfort in this verse:
Very truly I tell you, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds. Anyone who loves their life will lose it, while anyone who hates their life in this world will keep it for eternal life. John 12:24
I believed that those years of homeschooling were my version of falling into the ground and dying. But from that death would come something living and vital, something that would complete the cycle of life and death as it became seeds again.
GROWING WHERE PLANTED
Homeschooling is a fertile soil. As you serve your family, you learn about yourself and you grow. Character growth is one of the fruits of homeschooling, and for me, it was learning patience. Children grow at a steady pace, but they don’t mature overnight. You must learn to teach what is needed for this particular time, even if you want to be teaching something more interesting. Kids must learn phonics and learn to read before you can hand them a novel.
One thing I learned is that I loved children’s literature. Picture books fascinated me, how a complete story could be told in just a few words, and yet leave such an emotional impact. We read and read, using Charlotte Mason’s methods to allow books to come alive for us.
Another kind of growth is learning new skills. I knew that my kids needed to learn to write essays and perhaps creative writing. One writing teacher advised that kids need to see you writing in front of them, modeling the behavior that you were teaching. I’m very good at following directions, so I started writing. Because I was reading so many picture books with the kids, I started writing picture books. And learning about publishing.
And then, I got pregnant again. Halfway through the pregnancy, we found out that our insurance company had gone bankrupt. I was pregnant, with no insurance, and I had to have expensive C-sections.
That’s when I sold my first picture book to Harpercollins, THE RIVER DRAGON, a sort of Billy Goats Gruff story about a man who had to cross a bridge and a river dragon lived under it. The advance on the book almost paid for the delivery of my son.
I didn’t sell anything else for several years—after all, I was busy homeschooling my kids. It was still a matter of dying daily to my own plans and allowing the experience to grow me in unexpected ways.
When my days of homeschooling were finally done, though, I had a career as a children’s book author. Today, I have over fifty books in print and I know that they are built on the roots I sent down into the fertile soil of homeschooling. Charlotte Mason whispered into my ear that I must pay attention to the best books, to living books, that can create lasting memories and change lives.
What will your homeschooling years bring? Many people start a business serving the homeschool community. Or perhaps, the main growth will be in your character without spilling over into a business or job. Or, a ministry will start small and grow into an amazing thing. Only time will tell.
You’re been put into this unique position—of being a grain of wheat to be buried in homeschooling soil—for a reason. When your days as a homeschooling parent are over, don’t lament the years. They aren’t wasted! You’ll look back and be amazed at the harvest!