We have been homeschooling our kids for 18 years and that’s a mighty long time. Maybe it’s too long! Maybe it’s not long enough because I still doubt myself sometimes.
I never had a burning desire to school my children at home. Those people always seemed a little fringy to me and I definitely thrived more in the main stream. I wanted to be a business executive, work in a high profile office park, and wear fashionable clothes that demonstrated my good taste.
All of those visions changed the day I met a homeschooling family dining at our local Chick-Fil-A restaurant. I was in there having lunch with my three young children. Back then, it was a financial stretch for us to eat at Chick-Fil-A and we did it rarely. Somehow we were there and I had a baby on the hip and two more climbing on the indoor playground. Around noon, I noticed a family of four well-behaved, articulate school-aged children. They were playing and interacting in such a delightful way.
Being an extrovert, I decided to talk to this mom. Where did her kids go to school, I wanted to know. School was just a year away, so that topic was continually on my mind.
I walked over and inquired boldly, “What delightful kids you have. What brings you here today? Did you have an appointment?” I never considered that this family may not have their kids in any traditional school.
The mom responded with a welcoming smile, “We home school and today we took a little break down here to meet some friends.”
Now, that brief dialogue was all that was needed to plant a little mustard seed of possibility: The possibility that people can do things differently and its okay. I am sure that more words were exchanged with this nice mom, but these are all that I remember. It was a providential moment in my life, a moment that has shaped so much of our days here. I dare say that moment influenced our decision to have more children. That moment changed the way I think about education and learning. It changed the way we designed our current home. And, it changed the way I viewed my own future. Somewhere in there, I began to embrace the idea of just being a woman, a wife and a mother. In the course of all that, God gave me other little successes that I could not have imagined 20 years ago.
Don’t get me wrong! It hasn’t been all roses. It has been snails, beetles, skunks and praying mantis’s. But, it’s been a journey worth taking. At least my hubby thinks so, and I love that.
I bet many of us can pinpoint pivotal moments like this in our lives. It is a healthy exercise to think back. In doing so, I realize that these crucial, paradigm-shifting moments often stem from a simple kindness given by another. A smile, a simple response, or even just being present in the moment can affect those around us in a profoundly positive way.
Alright, enough of the melancholy nostalgia. It’s time for lunch and time to mount our praying mantis nest outside before those little critters hatch in my kitchen!