I like to imagine that I don't care what people think, that I do what I want because I want to or because I think I'm doing the right thing, regardless of the naysayers.
And I do. But, I also would like to be validated.
I am homeschooling because I love it, because I think it's beneficial for my kids, because I believe that God has called me to do it, and for so many other reasons. And yet, when another mother questions me or expresses doubt in my abilities- I get all fired up. I am annoyed that she doesn't agree with me, I start to worry if I'm doing the right thing- despite the many times that I have been assured (both by my Heavenly Parents and by the fruits of my labor, as it were) that this is a good thing for us now.
When I am questioned, I start thinking up defensive responses for next time. Next time someone says, "You should enroll August in preschool, he's not learning anything," I will just whip out this article about how delayed academics is better for little boy-brains. That will show them!
And then, I start to feel panicky. Well, that might make this other mom feel guilty that she taught her 2-year old the ABCs.
When obviously, with the exception of abuse or neglect- we should just assume that all mothers love their children and are doing what is best for their particular family. And none of us need to prove ourselves to each other.
I recently initiated my 6-year olds into "the grown up club."
I wasn't sure if they were ready. They had to be clued in to a lot of "grown-up tricks and secrets," and they were warned, being a member of the grown up club isn't always fun. Usually it means less fun! But they decided they were ready for the responsibility.
Some of the rules of membership in this highly exclusive club?
Well, you have to take care of littler kids, stick up for people who need a defender, play with someone that looks like they need a friend. Let little kids have turns before you, share what you have, and try to be a peacemaker.
These rules were fairly easy for my kids to accept. The most difficult rule was the rule that is actually difficult for almost every member of the grown-up club, even the actual grown-ups.
It's the "Okay, Crazy" Rule.
The rule is this: When someone disagrees with you, when someone says something that you don't believe or is offensive, you don't fight.
You don't scream, "MY NAME ISN'T MEATBALL PANTS!" until they begin to call you by the right name.
You shrug your shoulders and say (or think), "Okay, Crazy." And you move on.
Today, I forgot about the "Okay, Crazy" Rule. I didn't scream "I'M NOT A NEGLIGENT MOTHER" at anyone. I didn't even start Googling any statistics. I was, blissfully, interrupted by my horde of children and got to leave a conversation in the painful middle.
But then I came home and sent out identical texts to several women, begging them for validation.
"I'm not a negligent mother, right? I'm annoyed and I deserve to be, RIGHT?"
And they all promptly responded and reassured me.
For which I am appreciative.
But then, one of my friends sent me another reminder. She texted me a beautiful picture of a painting that she's working on, titled "She decided to ask up, not around."
And I remembered.
I don't care what other people think.
Or, rather, I shouldn't.
I recently read Teaching from Rest, which I would highly recommend to any Christian homeschooling mothers (it was more religious than I expected, but delightfully non-preachy).
I don't have my copy in front of me, so I can't quote it. But there was a section that really touched me, where the author asked, Whose "Well done" are seeking? You cannot serve two masters, and God and the world want very different things from you. If you're seeking to please and be praised by one of them- the other will probably be disappointed in you. If you're trying to impress everybody, it's unlikely anyone will be impressed. If you want God to be pleased with you, then stop trying to impress your mother-in-law and neighbors and do what you know God wants you to do.
(Note: My mother-in-law and most of my neighbors are actually fairly supportive and non- judgmental, so I'm intentionally singling out NO ONE.)
As we near the end of our first year of homeschooling, I am feeling really introspective about school and trying to evaluate what is next for us. Was this year everything I hoped it would be? Is this still the path that our family should take?
I know the answers to those questions already.
This last year was amazing, it was hard and tiring, but it was also joyful and fun. We all learned and grew closer and I am excited to continue that for at least another year.
As a friend recently told me, no one ever hands you a medal that says "You survived a Wicked Hard day as a mother!" (read that with a Boston accent).
I want to be validated for doing what I think is right.
But sometimes I just have to do it without the validation I think I deserve.
And I suspect, as a homeschooling mother, I'm just going to have to get used to people thinking that what I'm doing is crazy.