In January 2015, I started working from 4 pm to midnight. While this was a tough switch at the time, it allowed me to more or less be awake and functional during home school hours. After observing what Darah was doing with the boys, I started to help here and there, as well as beginning to pitch in on some housework. As the weeks went by, I became more and more involved. I’ve always enjoyed school and structure and schedules, and I found I was in my element coordinating lesson plans and being more involved in running a household.
Then, in mid-September of 2015, I was laid off from my job. The very next day, I took over the record-keeping for the school and began to envision myself as its primary teacher.
And now, a full year has passed! Sitting here today, it is hard to believe that so much time has already flown by (there goes old tempus, fugiting again!), but looking back, I realize I have learned a lot and grown in my own thinking.
- It is eye-opening to be a man in a woman’s world. Everything — and I really do mean everything — written to the home school teaching audience assumes the teacher is a woman, and almost always a mother. In progressive 2016, I am surprised that such a bias exists. I catch myself wanting to comment on every home schooling blog I read: “Dads and men do this, too!”
Where it does have more of an effect on my boys is group activities. I may be old-fashioned in this regard, but I don’t think it’s appropriate for a married man to hang out with a group of women. So, my boys and I forego a lot of group events because that is exactly the demographic we encounter.
Another aspect of this has been my growing empathy for moms. Building up our family has always been a primary focus for both Darah and me. She did the heavy lifting at home with babies and early education and housework, while I worked for a paycheck outside the home. Under this arrangement, I always felt a little bit disconnected. Even when I had the opportunity to work from home, I felt a bit distant from what Darah and the boys were up to because I had to keep my attention on my work and was not able to really participate in what they were doing day-in and day-out. (More on this in a bit.)
And now that I have had the blessing to be right in the middle of what is going on in the home, I have found in myself a feeling (an inaccurate one, I hasten to add!) that I’m “wasting” all of my time on home and family and regret having so little energy left over to invest in relationships outside of our family. I used to be “out there,” moving and shaking, and now I am stuck at home (literally, since we only have one vehicle).
Again, a real eye opener for me. The feeling I am describing must be, on some level, what every full-time homemaking mom feels for all the long years of child-rearing. As wonderful as life at home may be, there is always that sense that some important aspect of life is passing you by while you are completely focused on the task of transforming boys and girls into full-fledged adults.
- I am 100% certain my time could not be better invested. Even though I feel guilty sometimes because I am pouring so much into Kent and Reed (and Darah!) that I have little left for anything or anyone else, I also remember those days when I felt cut off from the “real life” happening at home with my family because I had to work a job and bring in an income. And if I have to choose between one and the other, it’s no contest. My time and my life could not be better invested than it is right now.
So, a bit of encouragement. If you are a stay-at-home parent, especially a home schooling one, and you ever feel like maybe your work is of only limited impact, know from someone who has been an outside-the-home breadwinner, a work-from-home breadwinner, and a full-time homemaker and home school-er — what you do at home with the kids is of the utmost significance. Hard as it may be to imagine at times, you have by far the most important job in the world. Keep up the great work!
- What we’re doing works for our family. It may not work for yours. I don’t know how I would have handled the early years at home with the kids if that had been my lot. I don’t know how this last year would have gone if Darah had stayed on as our full-time teacher and I had found another full-time job. I do know that it seems like puzzle pieces snapping together for it all to have worked out the way it has: immensely satisfying and a real feeling of accomplishment.
Through trial and error and many false starts, we have found that this arrangement works very well for us. Darah thrives outside the home — whereas I flourish the less I have to leave it! 🙂 I love housework and the daily routines of home and school; Darah has found her considerable talents better utilized in other, less mundane, pursuits. Neither of us is all that concerned with career or money, but when it comes to marketable skill sets, she possesses far more native talent than I ever have. Darah’s sunny disposition never lent itself as well to the role of stern schoolmaster as does my dour, no-nonsense pessimism. (This last, dear reader, is mostly a joke.) We are well suited to our current set-up. It is cool.
As much as I wish there was a formula to follow for all of this, there isn’t. It would make it so much easier! But there is something even better than comfort and ease that God has had in mind for us all along: the blessing of a life lived close to him, following wherever he leads, even when (especially when!) we do not seem equal to the task, the road seems less than well traveled, and no more than the next step or two is visible.
It has been a good, productive year. May the next be similar in that regard no matter how different it may be in every other!