Like a lot of folks, I’ve struggled with figuring out how to adjust to a new routine that suddenly includes daily phone calls to my representatives and compulsively checking NPR’s news blog every five minutes. But even when life felt more normal, there were times when I felt like I was totally rocking the whole homeschool life—and times when I just wasn’t.
When we talk about homeschooling, we tend to be earnest—or at least I do. I want to do better, pretty much all the time: I want better resources, better books, a better rhythm, a better experience for my kids… And I think this kind of striving is important. For me, it’s part of what homeschooling is about. But it’s also a recipe for failure because while I may be on a steadily-getting-better-trajectory when it comes to the big picture (and gosh, I hope I am), there are plenty of days where I am just plain OK.
I’m not talking about bad days, where clearly I could do better and, say, not try to convince my kids that we should take (another) day off when they are begging to do math or get all snooty about my daughter’s citations instead of helping her sort through her sources. (Not my proudest moment.) I’m not talking about the days where the kids wake up grumpy, and I have to choose between battling with them to accomplish anything or feeling guilty about letting them play video games all day. The bad days aren’t fun, but they remind me to appreciate the good days. No, I’m talking about the days where we do manage to get though the majority of our routine, where I plug in and the kids plug in, and we muddle through together—but really, we all know that it was just an OK day. Nobody was brilliant. I wasn’t especially entertaining or engaging, and the kids didn’t have any amazing insights or witty revelations. We just kind of made it through. I think those days deserve a little more respect.
Yes, of course, homeschooling can be an amazing, magical experience that makes you feel like your life is blooming all around you. There are days like that, and they are wonderful. They are what keep us going on the days when nothing goes right and we need to remember why we got ourselves into this mess in the first place. But there are plenty of days that are just good enough—not particularly great, not terrible, just OK. Sometimes there are a lot of these days in a row. For me, there are a lot of these days in a row right now. And instead of sighing over the missing magical moments, I’m trying to appreciate the everyday OK-ness of my homeschool life. Because while striving to be better is part of homeschooling, so, I think, is being comfortable with where you are. And where we are right now is an OK place.
AMY SHARONY is the founder and editor-in-chief of home | school | life magazine. She's a pretty nice person until someone starts pluralizing things with apostrophes, but then all bets are off.