Mothering Through (Physical) Pain

I can sometimes see the look on the faces of well-meaning people - Are you sure this is what is best for your kids?

This is homeschooling through chronic pain. Caused by recurrent, ridiculous amounts of kidney stones. I have dealt with the challenges and setbacks from feeling unwell throughout my years of mothering. Trying every remedy, procedure, dietary change that I can to be freed from it.

I know what it is like to feel such strong convictions about educating my family at home, while sometimes thinking of those colorful classrooms and attentive, prepared teachers and wondering if my children are missing out.

But we've been there before. My oldest spent almost three months at a small private school during a bad bout of pain. He was getting behind on reading and math, and did get caught up while also gleaning important learning and studying skills. However, there was regression in other areas of his emotional state; his sullenness, his complete state of burnout led him to lose his love of learning and literature. The school atmosphere does not work well for him. God reassured me that I could bring him back home, and that He would provide my sons education if I trusted His leading and kept an open mind.

It's been a couple of years since then, and God led me away from mom-intensive curriculum. Back then, I was all into hands-on unit studies, full of projects, craftiness, trips to the library hunting down certain book titles. If I was going to be honest with myself, I had to realize there was no way that was realistically going to happen in my house. Our journey into an interest-led, learning from real books method means he is retaining more knowledge than any other method I have tried, including the private school, and he is growing in maturity and self-confidence knowing that he is in charge of his learning.

If you too are struggling with illness or pain and trying to homeschool or stay at home with your children, there will be naysayers in your life that don't think you can handle it. In the past, I let these voices of doubt rattle my resolve. This is a private choice between your family and God. I now have the utmost confidence in the fact that I am a good homeschool mom, even though I struggle with health problems. You will need to fight for it, though. You need to let these challenges mold you even more into the image of Jesus, with His loving patience, grace, peace, and gentleness. I am tempted to be a grumpy mom sometimes, but it's not worth it when I am creating the atmosphere and am entirely responsible to lead them in a good example. There is no time for self-pity, which is unfruitful and destructive.

Not every day is bad. When I am feeling good, I do not take it for granted and I try to make it count. We have 4H projects, backyard picnics, AWANA Club, homeschool hangouts and parties. One of the biggest things the Lord is showing me right now is to enjoy my children.

My kids don't suffer when I feel bad, because they know I'm more apt to pay special attention to them. :-) Things that might seem like a waste of time when I 'should' be puttering around the house doing chores. We bond over games of Super Mario Bros on my husband's ancient SNES. Taking the time to engage them in an activity they really enjoy means the world to them. That is what sleeper sofas are for after all, piling on and reading aloud a hundred pages in a good book, because they can't bear for me to stop the story. Letting them veg out to hours of an audio book like Jim Weiss, Magic Tree House series, Story of the World or other fun novels. They also get greater incentives for going the extra mile doing chores that really should be my job, but I'm behind on because I'm hurting. They are all saving up for Lego sets, and love the chance to earn some money. My kids also learn things like patience, compassion, and independence. They can all fix themselves something to eat quietly if I need to rest.

If this is also your situation, my advice is seek God about a more self-directed, interest led route of study. You spend your precious time doing the things you are good at and able to do. And if even in this season all that you can do is love your children well, then concentrate on that. Sharing your heart with them, listening to what is on their minds. Delegate what you can't do, and trust God for the rest. He will bring people into your life that will feel blessed with the chance to serve. Allow them to! The objective is to enjoy God and each other.

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