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It’s 7:00 in the morning, and I already feel like throwing in the towel for the day. In the hour that my kids have been awake, we’ve navigated two meltdowns (one involving the clothes I laid out for the day, the other when I put the kibosh on throwing balls in the living room); one sibling squabble (about who would get to take the middle spot in our lineup for our Bible verse practice); and one epic pouting/eye-rolling/huffing-and-puffing situation (apparently I managed to wake my tweenager both too early in the morning AND not early enough for him to complete his regular pre-school rituals). Did I mention that it’s only Tuesday? Saturday can’t get here fast enough.

On mornings like this one, I question my own sanity over my decision to stay home full time with my kids. That decision alone is a little crazy. And homeschooling them on top of it? What was I thinking?! Being with my kids ALL day long, day in and day out, brings a level of exhaustion and overwhelm that can render the saintliest and steadiest of mothers a madwoman. The endless questions to be answered and squabbles to be negotiated and corrections to be given . . . the constant noise and flurry of busy bodies . . . the messes to be cleaned up, and the chores to be dictated, and the entertaining to be done, and the whole thing about kids needing clean clothes and three wholesome meals every single day—it’s a lot. And to these regular ins and outs of daily motherhood, I’ve tasked myself with the role of Teacher on top of Mother, accepting full responsibility for my children’s education. . . again I ask myself, WHAT WAS I THINKING?

This, of course, is a rhetorical question. I know exactly what I was thinking when I chose to stay home with my kids. I was thinking of how I’d longed for these children for as far back as I could remember and, now that the dream of them had materialized into flesh-and-blood beings of my own making, I couldn’t fathom the idea of being apart from them for most of each day as I went to work. I was thinking that these children would not remain small forever, and that I wanted to soak up every possible minute in their presence while they were young. I was thinking of how my heart would break at the idea of somebody else spending time with my kids while I was away, working and missing them. I was not thinking of the financial sacrifices or the emotional burdens associated with stay-at-home-motherhood, for these would be far outweighed by the joy and fulfillment I would find in knowing I was there for every moment—big and small—of my kids’ lives, that I would be there when they needed me (and when they didn’t), that I would never look back at my kids’ childhoods and wish that we’d had more time.

And I knew exactly what I was thinking when we made the decision to homeschool them. I knew that every educational path has its drawbacks and that homeschooling was not a perfect plan. I knew that I would not be able to give my children the same level of socialization or, in some instances, academic rigor that they could have in traditional school. I also knew that God had equipped me to teach my children, and that learning alongside them each day could be an amazing gift. I loved that I would get to witness my children as their minds expanded, that I would have the opportunity to watch them gain new skills and know that I had played a big part in each step of their learning. I saw the blessing of getting to choose WHAT and HOW my kids were learning, that each day would incorporate academic skills as well as Biblical training and discipleship. Even before the first day of our homeschool journey began, I saw it as my greatest chance at “training up [my] children in the way [they] should go” (Proverbs 22:6), and I enthusiastically said yes to this calling.

As difficult as motherhood can be, I refuse to become a martyr to my own decisions and circumstances. My children are not burdens, and being their full-time mom and teacher is an absolute blessing. Even in the hardest of days, I can see God at work. Amid the numerous meltdowns and squabbles of a chaotic Tuesday morning, there is learning taking place and discipling being done. In helping calm my children’s tears, I can model empathy and resilience. I am able to demonstrate a joyful attitude in the face of crankiness. The working out of sibling squabbles leads to lessons on sharing and sacrifice, lessons we see in the life of Jesus—the same Jesus we will pray to now, asking for help in being kind and generous with our family members. Before we’ve even had breakfast, our family will have engaged in prayer time, studied a passage from the Bible, worked on Scripture memory, and looked for clues to God’s presence and goodness in the story we read aloud at the school table. On the surface our mornings can seem chaotic, and my nerves may be on high alert; despite this household madness, God is at work. He is using this frazzled and worn-out mother beyond my own perceived capabilities to love on my kids and point them to Him.

This year I’ve passed up on a few different opportunities for ministry and discipleship of other women. They are opportunities I would have enjoyed, and that would have utilized my spiritual giftings in new and creative ways. I have no doubt that the Lord could have used me within those settings if I’d chosen to say yes. But factoring into my decision was my awareness that my time and energy are limited, especially in these days with three busy littles and another on the way. Any “yes” to a ministry opportunity outside the home is taking away from the ministry that is occurring under my own roof. These years when my kids are young are precious, and I want to maximize every moment of this time when my primary calling is to serve and disciple within my own home.

Staying home with my kids and taking control of their education is not a magic bullet for their future. As much as I pray for my children’s growing faith and sanctification, I have no guarantees that the discipleship we’re doing now will result in four adult children who are walking with the Lord. I cannot control the outcomes for my kids. But I refuse to squander the time I have now to pour into their impressionable minds and spirits. Ultimately their future is in the Lord’s hands; for now, they are under my care and I feel so blessed and honored to be their mother, their teacher, and their shepherd. This job is at times thankless, but I am ever so thankful for the chance to do it. The Lord has gifted me with these children, and will continue to equip me and sustain me through the hardest and most joyous of days.

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