Come Home With Your Shield Or On It

The first week back to homeschool.

One week down, 31 more to go.  Week increments don’t sound so bad.  Like marathons… just 26 miles.

Week 1.  The bad news is that we had tears every day.  The good news:  they weren’t mine.   I’m reading The Red Badge of Courage by Stephen Crane, in which  a young, freshly-enlisted soldier is consumed by doubts about his ability to stand in the face of death.  He becomes obsessed with knowing his own limits and is anxious and terrified to be plumbed by the test he knows is coming.   Homeschooling can be like that.  I didn’t know whether or not I’d be able to hang when things got tough.  And honestly, were it not for my husband towing me through those first grueling years,  I would have quit.  At every valley he encouraged me to go on and reminded me of why we signed up for this sortie in the first place.  So easily are our initial dreams and motivations forgotten in the mire of day-to-day challenges and failures!  So I, unlike the young soldier, don’t have to wonder if I have the mettle to face my battle:   I don’t.  Not alone, anyway.

Why does educating your own child make you feel like Atlas?  The instant their little educations came down on my shoulders I felt my knees  buckle.  Every day I  questioned whether or not I was cheating them out of a decent education.    In those first years I did not feel qualified or dignified  (try feeling dignified while breastfeeding and doing spelling).  But somehow  we managed to learn things, many wonderful things, even when little ones interrupted every subject 50 times or helped themselves to the flour while we were praying.

“Come home with your shield or on it,” is a parting admonition Spartan mothers would give their sons as they left for battle– not for the Olympic games.  Once you enlist, it’s not I changed my mind.  It’s desertion.  The woman who undertakes to equip her children with Godly character and academic excellence must come home with her shield or on it.  That may or may not be the reality… but that is how we feel when we teach our own children.   Like we’ve entered the non-negotiable state of battle.   While other moms joyously look forward to the first day of school, summer must be pried from me with the jaws of life.

On to week two!

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