When I think about it, I know a good day when I see one, but I can’t MAKE one happen. Flannery O’Connor said that the writer’s part in writing is to sit down at that desk and be prepared, and make the moves of a writer. You aren’t guaranteed to have a great writing day. You may struggle through thorns for 4 hours. But without that sitting down and preparation, it is almost guaranteed that you won’t have a good day. You won’t write at all.
I think homeschooling is a bit like that. You have to show up. I spend a lot of my homeschooling effort, I realize, setting things up so that a good day CAN happen. This is good. Most writers only write for a few hours a day, but they are writers full time—preparing themselves, gathering thoughts, pondering, even when they are feeding their peacocks (as Flannery did in her spare time). I think it is similar with homeschooling. You may only officially teach for a few hours, perhaps much less—or MORE, turning the picture the other way—if you are an unschooler. But the crucial part of that preparation is simply showing up. There will be slow days, thorny days, miraculous days. But if you are there, they will be good days. They will balance themselves out in the long run. You will see what needs to be done, and do it.
It’s a bit of a tangent, but what she says about just showing up reminds me that the same is true of prayer too. I have good prayer days and bad prayer days. Some days I just open the book and I fall asleep on others I am distracted at every turn. (Today it seemed Bella needed attention once every ten seconds.) But the worst days are the ones when I don’t make any effort at all and never even attempt to carve out a space for prayer. On those days I find that everything goes wrong, my temper flares at the tiniest provocation and, as I tuck myself in at the end of the day, I find I have much to apologize for.
To bring it back to homeschooling, I think an essential element is that everything must be rooted in God. If we don’t start in prayer and end in prayer all our works will be found to have been in vain. And that’s one reason I feel so called to homeschooling.
When I was a teacher at the state college, one of my biggest frustrations was the wall of separation between my faith and my work. I love teaching, but I often felt like I was spinning my wheels and getting nowhere. I know homeschooling will have plenty of those frustrating days, but at the same time it will be rooted in Love in a way that my teaching career never could be, much as I tried to breach that wall. When I contemplate my decision to homeschool Bella, I feel as if I’ve finally connected the dots. I’ve found my vocation at last, to be both a teacher and a mother.