At Life Without School Marjorie, a homeschooling mom, ponders the question: “How do you prepare a kind and gentle soul for the harsh realities of the world?” Her response is interesting. On the one hand, she says, it’s her job to protect her children from those harsh realities and if she does that job and they grow up safe and loved then, when they are mature, they will be able to handle what life throws at them. On the other hand, she asks, don’t we in some sense create the world we live in?
We homeschoolers know well that some people think we are sheltering our kids from “the real world.” On the one hand, I say “you’re right” and I feel that it’s part of my job as a parent to do just that. On the other hand, I wonder which world is the real one. Am I wrong to take my children to visit art museums and not on tours of juvenile detention centers? Are 12years of institutional school an adequate preparation for the real world? Which world – one where you’re told what to do and what to think and how to spend your time? Sometimes I really wonder if part of what the schools are doing is turning out an excellent consumer base. If you believe that you need others to tell you what to learn, when to learn it, and how to learn it, are you not well-suited to swallow marketing messages about what you need, what you want, and where to buy it without question? Is there that much of a leap between needing an A for status and needing a Lexus? In whose world?
Marjorie’s ideas are good as far as they go; but I think I can push her line of thinking a little further. She really got me thinking about the ways in which I can and will help to form the world my daughter will live in: I can teach her to walk in a world created by God and not the cold, comfort less world of the materialist, consumerist secular society that surrounds us.
The world is a harsh place. It’s a fallen world, a world of sin and thus of suffering. But my primary job as a mother is to teach my children the good news that sin and death have been conquered and human suffering has been redeemed. Although this world is a vale of tears, there is another world that awaits us: heaven. And we can participate in this other world here and now through our love and self-sacrifice and through God’s grace in the sacraments, and most especially in the holy sacrifice of the mass which is heaven on earth.
I cannot fully protect Isabella from the harsh realities of living in a world marred by sin. Already I have learned that I cannot shelter her completely from bodily pain, from hunger and tiredness and from fear. But I can teach her love. I can hug her, kiss her, rock her, comfort her when she falls or when she gets a shot. I can teach her about Jesus and help her find hope in the dark times and help her to walk in God’s paths so that one day we may both find our true home in the place where there is no pain, no suffering, no sin, only love and peace.