This past year was the worst home school year I have ever had. I came very close to putting my kids in school. There were days when I thought there was no way I could do this anymore. I had grown used to moving, financial strain, job changes and losses. It wasn't easy but the one thing I found such joy in was home educating my kids. I lost that over the last year or so.
My oldest was a dream child to teach. She read just before she was five. Loved stories, reading and even writing. She was eager, diligent and happy to do whatever she was given. Having a child like her first can really mess with your head. I thought it was something I had done. I felt pretty good about my home educating abilities and my parenting. Though I was diligent and committed myself...much of her "success" was about who God made her to be and very little about the curriculum or the teacher.
Enter child number two to home educate with out of control behaviors and severe learning struggles, a newborn baby, job loss, postpartum depression and well......do I need say more. The descent started two years ago and reached a head about six months ago right in the middle of another move. I found myself craving space more then people. I wanted my kids to go away and leave me alone. I felt at the end of myself in a way that I never have in my life.
I couldn't make my son learn..heck I couldn't get him to behave or even get dressed without a major melt down. Then I had a little baby crying and needing me and a very diligent big girl who was falling between the cracks as her school load became more demanding. She started to struggle and I didn't even know it because I was over in the corner with two crying boys. As a mother, the things you expect of yourself without flaw is being able to help and love your own child. When you aren't able to do that something sorta dies on the inside. I felt like such a home school mom failure. I knew sending my son to public school wasn't best for him or our family. I wasn't interested in best anymore but just easiest. It would be easier to let someone else deal with his struggles.
On top of all this it was obvious to most people he wasn't typical but yet there was no clear reason he wasn't. Lack of discipline? Bad character? Mean spirited? Brat? It is an interesting tendency of human nature to take what is different and find some normal category to rationalize it. I did that for a long time. We don't like different so we find a box to put it in that makes us more comfortable. We find a place to put fault in order to help it make sense. I placed most fault on myself and honestly, the stares and comments of other people did too.
Not home educating my children wouldn't change what I was facing but getting the right help would. It took me a long time to ask for help. I used to be so anti-label. I thought it put a child in a box that he would forever be confined too. It would somehow limit his options and opportunities. I have found just the opposite. Knowing what I am facing everyday actually empowers me to help him. The more I understood why, the better I got at responding in the way he needed me too. For one, we stopped any form of physical discipline. And honestly, in my circles I feared more judgement about that then almost anything else. It is easy to think that if you don't apply the rod it can't be biblical discipline. I do not believe physical discipline is wrong or unbiblical but not every child will fit the formula. Training a child in the way he should go is about getting their heart, to lead them to the savior and not about making sure they don't misbehave or "get it right" . Getting to the heart of one child may look different then with another. When we stopped we saw amazing results. I believe this is true due to his strong sensory processing issues and his mind blindness. How do you tell a boy who just lashed out in a meltdown that he is in sin when he responded to a physical fight response from sensory overload? I could touch him on the head and he would yell as if I had hit him. He could bump into me running down the hall and get mad because I pushed him? I am sure it is very hard to understand until it is your child and you live with it everyday.
I remember feeling so helpless to help him. And feeling help-less in regards to one of my children I think is the hardest thing I have faced. I recall having the same feeling when my son Jonah died in my arms. I was his mother and there was nothing I could do to save him. I was supposed to care, nurture and protect him and all I could do is hold him while he flew away home. I felt over the last year or so that I couldn't save my son Isaac either and he was running around under foot every single day. It was almost more painful to have him there everyday and have no clue how to meet his needs.
I find it easier to write about now because we are on the road to help. I have learned SO much about why he struggles with many of the things he does. Some of it still makes no sense at times but you know what.....my being helpless and so weak has made me so much more grace filled toward him. I had to cling to God (which really means he held me close to himself) like never before. I was done and so unable to perform or maintain anything but the raw basics if life and that poorly. Being in that place caused me to become more comfortable with my weakness, my sons weakness and the amazing strength that God has to work in us when we are in that place.
I am actually beginning to like being weak sometimes. Still an uphill battle but God in His wisdom used the weak in the world to shame the strong (1Cor. 1:27).
And just so you know.... I am very much looking forward to learning at home again this year. Partly, because I have finally found somethings that work, we are having outside help and my boy is doing much better on many levels. Though I know in many ways the battle has just begun..... knowing is empowering. Not only understanding my son better but having hard evidence that once again God was faithful and so he will be again.
25 Human wisdom is so tinny, so impotent, next to the seeming absurdity of God. Human strength can't begin to compete with God's "weakness." 26 Take a good look, friends, at who you were when you got called into this life. I don't see many of "the brightest and the best" among you, not many influential, not many from high-society families. 27 Isn't it obvious that God deliberately chose men and women that the culture overlooks and exploits and abuses, 28 chose these "nobodies" to expose the hollow pretensions of the "somebodies"? 29 That makes it quite clear that none of you can get by with blowing your own horn before God. 30 Everything that we have - right thinking and right living, a clean slate and a fresh start - comes from God by way of Jesus Christ. 31 That's why we have the saying, "If you're going to blow a horn, blow a trumpet for God."
1Corinthians 1:25-31 (Message)