I participated in a panel discussion earlier this week at a local homeschool support group. Many of the moms (and one dad) present were new homeschoolers and some were veterans. But no matter how long a family has been home educating, there seemed to be one constant struggle - comparing ourselves to others. I laughed and offered the cell phone number of my seventeen year old son when a mother attending the meeting thought that I was the "perfect" homeschooler. Not even close. But I could definitely relate to her struggle.
For me, the greatest challenge has been having a picture in my mind of what homeschooling is supposed to look like - the mythical perfect homeschool family. I would compare myself to that perfect ideal and those that I thought lived it out. I never measured up. It didn't help that I had met a few families early on that used one particular homeschooling curriculum that presented this ideal rather strongly; that their method was God's way to homeschool. We didn't use the curriculum, but somehow their ideal mixed with my own insecurities created an image in my mind of what a homeschool family was supposed to be.
Try as I might, I could never compete with that ideal any more than I could the image of a super-model or June Cleaver for that matter. Consequently, everything I did never seemed quite good enough. In the quest for perfection, I'd change methods or curriculum. "Ditch and switch" characterized the first few years of our homeschooling. But the minute I'd switch something new would come out that was "better" than what I was using. Remember, homeschooling is a business with a marketing plan that caters to our insecurities.
This was challenging to overcome; until I finally ditched the image of perfection and switched my focus away from my ideal to God's plan for our family. Doing so helped increase my confidence to homeschool and I actually began to enjoy my children. Imagine that! Instead, of focusing on what I thought they should become, I began to concentrate on who they were right then and enjoy them. It was actually a relinquishing of control and letting God help fashion and shape our family into His image not the perfect image in my mind.
There are no perfect homeschool families. There are no perfect home school mothers. There isn't a perfect method or curriculum. But there is a perfect God, who takes all this imperfection and somehow turns it into something good. To God be the glory.