Carlie recently wrote a great piece on the challenges of homeschooling as single parent. Being a homeschooling mom is tough enough when your help-meet is CONUS, but when he’s deployed or on a lengthy TDY, the challenges increase. However, there are those of us homeschooling through other forms of separation—either as a Gold Star wife, or as an ex or soon-to-be-ex-MilSpouse.
Every little girl has her vision of what her life is going to look like, and I was no different: there would of course be a handsome, God-loving young prince who sweeps me off my feet, we would have three lovely children (two boys and girl—in that order), and I would spend my days raising and teaching my three perfect little munchkins as a homeschooling mom. That was my dream. As a child I went to private school, public school and was homeschooled, and I definitely preferred homeschooling. The older I got, the more convinced I became that homeschooling was the best option for my children.
When I first met my husband, I was very clear about my plans for life—I would be a stay-home, homeschooling mom, among a myriad of other things, and if he had issues with any of those plans, there was no point going beyond that first date. Against the wishes and advice of my parents, pastor, and a lot of other people, we married about a year after that first date. I won’t delve in to the many reasons why my marriage failed, but fail it did. I found myself packing up a van with my and my children’s clothes in the middle of the night, fleeing to my parents’ home two states away while my husband was on a short TDY for the Army.
The circumstances were not ideal—the boys and I moved in with my parents while my husband and I each attended individual counseling and tried to reconcile our marriage. Since I had been homeschooling that school year, I continued homeschooling my boys. We can’t afford to live on my husband’s BAH2, and though he can well-afford to provide us with more support, he refuses. My parents don’t charge me rent or utilities, so I can spend what little money we receive on the boys. Fortunately, my parents are homeschooling advocates. However, my mom recently commented that either she’s going to have to get a job (and she is happily retired) or I am.
And that is my biggest challenge as a single homeschooling mom. I’m not homeschooling because it’s the cool-hip-happening thing to do. I homeschool because it’s a part of my core values, because I didn’t have children so I could hand them over to strangers to raise. So what if those strangers have a teaching degree—they’re strangers and they will never be fully vested in my child’s life, physical or eternal. I regularly get the question, “Won’t you have to put the boys in school and go back to work?” To most people it seems like a sensible question. But they might just as well ask me if I’m going to become a prostitute now that I’m divorced. It is THAT contrary to my values. Still, I just might have to put them in school, and it kills me to consider that possibility. I can’t support us on what we’re receiving from my husband. Granted, as the divorce proceeds and the child custody dispute is resolved, the courts may require my husband to provide us with more support. Even so, I’m battling courts in two different states with two different lawyers (one state for divorce, one state for custody) and man, lawyers are expensive. The bills are stacking up. My husband is fighting to have the children put in school, but so far one judge has ordered that I can at least continue homeschooling this school year. “However,” he told me from the bench, “homeschooling may be a luxury you can’t afford.” A luxury? Raising my own children is a luxury? I understand where he’s coming from, I understand where they’re all coming from, but does anyone understand where I’m coming from? This challenging time has forced me to swallow my pride and learn how to ask for help, and I’m blessed with a church family full of homeschoolers that is ever-willing to watch the kids while I meet with a Guardian ad Litem, or attend a court hearing, or even just because they can tell that I need a break. (My parents actually live in another state right now, so I don’t have them as a resource for childcare.)
That dream I had as a little girl never in any way involved an abusive prince charming, or a divorce, or becoming dependent on my parents at the age of 38. I never wanted this for my kids—they deserve better. They enjoy the freedom and flexibility of homeschooling. They’ve been to school in the past and had really bad experiences, but they’re military kids—they’re used to change. I know there are single homeschooling moms out there who work from home and still homeschool, but I haven’t found a way to do this yet. My children deserve the luxury of having their mom home with them every day. I just have to figure out a way to make that happen. And maybe I will. I have to continually remind myself that these are God’s children, not mine. He will provide for them. But homeschooling is something I feel very strongly about, and I’m content to be poor in order to give them all of myself during these important formative years of their lives. Because single or married, I want to give them every little bit of that dream as I possibly can.
Here are some resources I have found for single parents who homeschool:
Yahoo Group: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/spwhs/
Jenna is a homeschooling mom to three amazing little men, fitness-wannabe, book fanatic, news junkie, Cub Scout Leader, coffee addict, and lover of a living and gracious God. You can read her sometimes-musings about books and reading at www.dustedcover.wordpress.com