I am often tongue-tied when people who find out I homeschool tell me in a comrade tone that they, too, homeschooled… for a year. It takes all my self control to not pull this face:
See, there are words that we toss about, but the meanings are so very different depending on who is using them. In this case, when a lady says she homeschooled for a year, to me it is equivalent to saying she parented for a year. Or a guy telling a couple celebrating their 50th anniversary that “I was married for 3 years and 5 months, so… I understand.”
The other thing that shows that the meaning of our words are so different: “We tried homeschooling, but it didn’t really work for us.” Again, apply that sentence to parenting or marriage and you can see how people use the same words, but think very differently. Homeschooling, parenting, marriage—in the way that I think of them—are lifestyles. They are things to which we commit. And—this is a biggie—it is not for them to work for me. We choose a lifestyle and then we do the work.
I don’t stay married until it becomes difficult or merely stops working for me. If I did, I would have been divorced over a decade ago. I don’t parent until I get inconvenienced. If I did, we would never have gotten past birth!! Similarly, we are homeschoolers. We are. We aren’t trying it out or waiting for it to get hard or hoping that it will work for us.
I appreciate that homeschooling isn’t for everyone. I understand that sometimes we try things that we truly must abandon because it is a poor fit for our family. I don’t resent people schooling at home temporarily. But, like I said, I am really drawn up short when someone tries to compare notes with me as a homeschooler because they did it for a year or two.
Homeschooling in the way that we do it is impossible to do in a year or even in five. It is a lifetime. It is a way of being, an outlook on all of life; homeschooling is a lifestyle.
Homeschooling isn’t just about academics, books, schedules, college preparation or tests. But each of these things plays a role. Homeschooling isn’t about character, life skills or instilling a love for learning, yet these elements are absolutely essential to homeschooling when I use the word. Homeschooling this way takes time and encompasses every aspect of life, which is a blessing. Why? Because the bad things are are swallowed by the good. The rough seasons don’t define anything. The weaknesses have time to work themselves out. Deadlines don’t exist.
You can’t compartmentalize it. There is no such thing as school time and not-school-time. I am never not married. I am never not a parent. I am never not a homeschooler. I like it that way.