One year at our annual encouragement day for homeschooling moms, my friend Sue told a very personal story from her early days teaching her three children. While her two daughters were model students, her son had given her a run for her money. Day after day ended in tears, usually her own, until she decided she was going to ship the boy off to the local Christian school. In what seemed like the depths of despair, she wrote a formal letter of resignation to her husband, which she read out loud to us that morning. All around the room, we laughed and we cried. Her story was so real to those of us who had at least one year of homeschooling under our belts, and every mom in the room could relate to the idea of quitting motherhood.
That morning, as my friend transparently shared her own struggles, I realized the power of a been-there-done-that homeschooling woman. It has been confirmed to me repeatedly through the years as I have heard so many younger moms lament, “Where are the homeschooling moms who have already done this?”
A Spiritual Mother
In spite of the fact that “young and hip” is the progressive standard washing over the church, the high calling of older womanhood as taught in Scripture carries special weight for those of us who have the privilege of encouraging these women. We are admonished to live temperate lives ourselves as an example to them; we are charged with the task of teaching them to love their husbands and children, the very basis for homeschooling in the first place. Our prayer for this season is:
And even when I am old and gray, O God, do not forsake me, until I declare Your strength to this generation, Your power to all who are to come (Psalm 71:18).
Sadly, I have observed that many “retired” homeschoolers choose to leave this area of their lives on the shelf next to their old curriculum and move on to new interests without intentionally practicing encouragement to newer homeschoolers. I believe this is a great mistake, and I would like to challenge you to consider how older moms can be a blessing to younger moms.
Experienced moms can lead by an example of spiritual faithfulness. In his letter to the Thessalonians, where the apostle Paul lays out a pattern for spiritual mentoring, we are reminded that we are not to be man pleasers, because it is God who examines our hearts. In order to do that, we have to be students of the Word, both hearers and doers. As we become more like Jesus, younger women will be attracted to what we share because it will be a reflection of him in our lives!
Experienced moms can bring a perspective others don’t have by sharing honestly from both our failures and successes. When we are open about our mistakes, it gives moms hope for tomorrow, that do-overs are still possible. When we relate our successes, it gives them hope for twenty years down the road, when they, like us, are able to look back and see the fruit of their labors. They need to know that the eternal trumps the temporal, that faithfulness in the day of small things is what matters today. No one can share this truth better than someone with a history!
Experienced moms can paint a big picture while trusting younger moms to fill in the details. We need to resist the urge to tell younger moms what to do, but, instead, help them sort through the thought process of making their own choices. The greatest gift we can offer is a kind word of encouragement and expressing confidence in their abilities to do what is best for their own children. Homeschooling itself has seen many changes since its popularity began in the 1980s. We need to recognize that the possibilities today are endless, and the creativity within the homeschooling community grows to the benefit of all of us.
Experienced moms are able to sort through what is important and what is not, ignoring the “ought to” comments and boldly replacing them with “no, that isn’t for our family.” There are so many options for use of a family’s time, and seasoned moms know that time for building relationships with our children must take precedence over anything else. Older moms can tell you how they picked and chose ways to spend their time, what was of benefit to their children and what was not, and how they kept all the balls in air at one time!
Experienced moms can run interference when necessary. From nosey church ladies to legislators who want to bring state control to home education to skeptical in-laws, seasoned homeschooling moms are often the first and best line of defense in tough situations. Homeschooling families have special pressures and responsibilities that are often not understood. Unreasonable expectations often lead to conflict, guilt, and isolation for homeschooling moms. Older moms can anticipate these issues and intervene, helping to build understanding and appreciation for one another.
Experienced moms need younger moms as friends, too! We need each other! Younger moms need to walk with us through our transitional years of watching our children move into young adulthood, cheering us on! They need to come alongside us to support us with their friendships, giving us any perspectives on our own children we might miss. They need to comfort us as we care for our elderly parents, inspiring them to build relationships in their own families and plan for the future. They need to exhort us in our commitment to long, healthy marriages and applaud us as we make them flourish. They need to hold us accountable in our quest to finish well! In knowing we have such potential for influence in their lives, we are inspired to walk worthy of our callings as older women!
- Who are the experienced moms in your life who mentored you?
- What lasting truth did they share?
- How can you make a difference in the life of a newer homeschooling mom?
- Be brave, build friendships with them. Your spiritual daughters will surely rise up and call you blessed!