She wasn’t even in our home for an hour. She arrived at our door as scheduled, with an armful of papers and a notary stamp, to help us complete a refinance on our home mortgage. The three of us sat at the table in our schoolroom, she, my husband, and I; she explained each document and we signed. About halfway through the process, she cast me an appraising glance and asked the question.
“Do you homeschool?”
“Yes, I do,” I replied, “Is it obvious?”
“I homeschooled my grandson for six years,” she said, “and we had a room that looked a lot like this,” gesturing around her to the posters, bookshelf, and plastic stacking drawers of curricula. As we proceeded through the paperwork, she shared with us some reflections on her homeschooling experience. How it was difficult at the time, but now she looks back on those years as some of the best because of the close relationship she was able to establish with him. How thankful she is that she was able to impart to him a love of reading equal to her own. “He didn’t used to like reading the books that I liked,” she remarked with a wry grin, “but now we both enjoy the same books, and we can read and discuss together.”
Our business completed, we walked her to the door and wished her a good night. She stepped out into the evening air and turned back to face me. “Congratulations on the life choices you are making,” she said, “You will find the reward to be well worth the effort.”
We’ve been in this homeschooling lifestyle for a few years now, and we have become fairly accustomed to being recognized as homeschoolers when we are out and about. Sometimes it is obvious. When I venture out into the world, five young people go with me, even during regular school hours. It is more bemusing to me when it’s a Saturday and we are still, apparently, identifiable. But one thing I have learned over the course of many quick exchanges is not to fear that question. When a stranger asks me if I homeschool, they often go on to tell me about their own homeschooling journey. And you know what? Not a single person has told me that they regretted it.
I don’t know much of our notary’s story, nor those of the other veteran homeschool moms who have stopped me with the question over the years. Maybe homeschooling worked for their families long-term, or maybe it was a brief season. I can’t begin to guess at their hardships or joys. But what they wanted me to know in those short exchanges was that whatever else their homeschooling journey was, it was worth it.
Looking ahead down this road is daunting. I can’t see the course mapped out for us; I don’t know how long homeschooling will work for us, or for which of my kids it will work. Maybe this home-centered learning lifestyle will serve all of my kids well into their adulthoods, or maybe a day will come where we will find we need to make changes. Only God knows how this will all pan out for our family, and it is a perennial struggle for me to trust him through the day-to-day friction of growing and learning – and just being – together. Praise Jesus that my mistakes and my doubts and my fears are covered by his grace! These encounters with seasoned homeschool moms are such gifts. It is always a joy and an encouragement to hear another mother reflect fondly on her homeschooling years. Wherever this journey may bring us, whatever struggles we may face along the way, one thing I know it will be is worth it.
Amanda Moldstad is a co-founder of the Lutheran Homeschool Association. She and her husband, John, homeschool their five children in Brooklyn Park, Minnesota.