While chasing down the elusive homeschool unicorn, how many of you have turned into a wild-eyed hampster on a perpetual spinning wheel? Come on, you know what I’m talking about! The Homeschool Unicorn is the perfectly groomed, serene mild-mannered magical mama who lovingly teaches her kids, prepares daily dreamy dinners, and grants wishes and makes dreams come true. She whispers words of encouragement and never loses her cool. She comes to the rescue of her husband, her fouls and friends and firmly stands in the gap to protect those she loves. Her beautiful mane is flawless and flows in the wind while her eyes twinkle with joy, her hands are freshly manicured and her hindside is tight and firm. There’s not a wrinkle to be found, a flabby roll to be seen, a hair out of place or a harsh word to be heard. Why she wears so many hats her beautiful horn is never seen. It is covered by her wife, mom, teacher, daughter, caregiver, ministry leader, personal chef, and chauffeur hats. This perfect, harmonious, selfless, beautiful creature is the Homeschool Unicorn!
Let’s face it! We all want to be her! We spend countless hours reading books, searching the internet, going to conventions, and asking for advice to find this elusive creature. Even after 20+ years of homeschooling, I know I still scour bookstores and constantly ask friends for advice on the perfect method, the perfect curriculum, or the perfect group. While searching for the perfect Homeschool Unicorn, I have become that chubby, short-tempered, imperfect little hamster who perpetually runs in circles on my little hamster wheel hour after hour, day after day, and year after year! Yes, searching for the Homeschool Unicorn turned me into the crazy little hamster.
Ok, just to be fair to my sweet family and friends who are reading this and saying, “Gosh, Carrie, you’re too hard on yourself! You are a beautiful unicorn to us.” Then I will not beat myself up and admit if I were a homeschool unicorn, it would be her!
But still if I’m being honest, I think I really am the hamster on a perpetual spinning wheel! Are you one of the crazy little hampsters on the wheel with me? Grant it, I do have a few homeschooling mom friends who are pretty darn close to being that elusive Homeschool Unicorn but I’m pretty sure many of you see yourself on the wheel with me!
So what happened in the search to turn us into these crazy little furry creatures? Comparison! Let’s face, mamas! We are experts at comparisons. And it is hard not to compare. The proverbial Jone’s don’t live next door anymore. They live on our computers 24/7 constantly reminding us how we don’t match up to their perfect little families, their perfect little homes, and their perfect little school rooms. It is hard not to compare our crazy little families, messed up kitchens and incomplete workbooks and we are all guilty of it. In our well-meaning efforts to be the best mom and teacher we can be, we left the lush pastures and cool waters and jumped on the crazy train (or should I say the crazy wheel).
Did you know the wheel doesn’t go anywhere? Yeah! I know! I was ticked off too when I figured that out. Did you know the unicorn is imaginary? Yeah! I know! I was ticked when I figured that out too! So what have I been chasing? How in the world did I get on this hamster wheel and more importantly, how can get off this thing???!!!
First, we need to stop peddling. The wheel will come to a screeching stop if you just stop moving your feet. ( I know, when my husband suggested it I couldn’t believe how simple it sounded. It was almost too easy!) So I stopped peddling (and all of the other movements too!) I stopped waving my hand that said, “Wait for me! We are joining you in that new awesome class even though my kids already take 5,000 other classes!” I stopped wagging my finger that nagged, “You get that math done right this minute or I’ll…. I’ll do something and you won’t like it!” I even stopped flapping my lips that said less than edifying and encouraging words. I just stopped moving.
Second, we need to reach out to the hampster next to us on the crazy wheel and offer our hands. You will be surprised how many of your friends want to get off the crazy wheel but since you are on it, they figure it must be the right wheel to be on. Or perhaps they are just afraid to take the first step. And while you are at it, take your husband and kids off of it too. Chances are they have been in perpetual motion this past school year because you were in perpetual motion. They may not even know how or when they got into the crazy wheel but all they know is they need help escaping too! So offer a hand, scurry of the wild and crazy ride, and take a friend (and your family) with you.
Finally, take a deep breath. Enjoy the fresh air outside of the cage and then run! Run free! Am I encouraging you to run away from homeschooling and to give it up? No way! I am encouraging you to homeschool the way God has called you to do it! Every family is different which means every family’s homeschool days will look different. God doesn’t want a bunch of perfect Jone’s. He wants imperfect De Francisco’s who are made strong in His weaknesses. He wants obedient Mayeur’s who trust in the Lord with all of their hearts and who do not lean not on their own understandings. He wants faithful Gonzalez’s who believe He who has begun a good work in their children is faithful to complete it. Whether God gently called you into this adventure we call homeschooling, He used neon signs and roadblocks to get you here, or He chased you down until you couldn’t ignore the call anymore, He who calls you, He will equip you. God calls us to be faithful servants, not phenomenal teachers or perfect moms. Did you catch that? Let me say it again. God calls us to be faithful servants, not phenomenal teachers or perfect moms. If we are faithful to our call (whether it looks like a perfect homeschool unicorn or an imperfect messy hampster), He will say at the end of this journey, “Well done, good and faithful servant.”
All you who are weary from the crazy homeschool hampster wheel and burdened by self-doubt and silly comparisons, come to Jesus. He promises to give you rest. This summer as you rest, relax and rejuvenate, unplug, unwind and undergo a whole new makeover. Stop chasing the magical homeschool unicorn. Get off the crazy homeschool hampster wheel. Stop comparing yourself and your homeschooling calling to those around you. This summer, let God lead you to fresh waters. He is calling you this summer to lie down in green pastures so He can refresh your soul.
Happy summer and may God richly bless your break for His honor and glory,