This past year, in August 2006, I started a pilgrimage towards better spiritual understanding, more intuitive mothering, and true fulfillment of purpose. I brought my family along for the ride. I didn't tell them where we would be going or how we would get there, because I myself didn't know. All I knew was that things weren't working the way they were. Most specifically, I came to the hard conclusion that I didn't have the skills or understanding to deal with the challenges my children were throwing at my feet (and head at times!)
Our youngest daughter Taytum had been struggling for the entire year previous with depression and all-consuming frustration attributed to her ADHD and her inability to reconcile her heart with her actions. School for her was more like a concentration camp. And I was too beaten down at the time to realize the oppression it was causing her soul. When the end of the school year approached, the depth of her depression became obvious and I immediately started searching for ways to help her. We moved then, to Michigan, and with that transition came the opportunity to start anew.
I began reading all the parenting books I could in an attempt to gain the skills I needed to manage her behaviors and help her out of her depression. My brother haphazardly recommended I read A Thomas Jefferson Education, insisting that it was the source from where he gathered his knowledge of how to properly care for his family and prepare them for these Latter Days. I bought it that day. Read it. Wept.
Though it is a book about education, I found it more to be an inspiration and guide for my role as a parent in preparing my children to reach their greatness. And although it is not a book specifically proclaiming that homeschooling your children is the only right way to achieve that greatness, I could not put it down without concluding for myself that homeschooling was the answer.
Within a week Taytum was pulled from the public school system and was home with me. This was a new concept for my habitual self, since I had previously ached for the sound of the school bus brakes in the morning as the Pavlov dog salivates to his bell. But the testimony from the truths I had read was strong enough for me to overcome my previous self-centered routine.
The first day we began homeschooling, we sat at the dining room table contemplating the day and what to do for "school." Taytum was impossible to focus. I began to dread my decision and clasped my head in my hands and prayed. While I was praying, Taytum asked me what I was doing. I told her. She said to me, "I didn't know you could pray without using your voice!" A beautiful conversation ensued. I explained to her about praying in your heart, and being able to always talk to your Heavenly Father whenever you have a question or problem and He will hear you. Listening to me intently, she then rested her head in her hands and began to quietly move her lips. She suddenly blurted out with wide-eyed excitement "It really works!" Our first day of home-school was a success.
The following days were also successes, as one by one great awarenesses began to spurt from her tiny self and heal her repressed spirit. One morning as she helped me mop the Kitchen floor, she looked up at me with pure joy in her face and said "Mom, I am so happy to be alive! I get to be with you every day!" A far cry from the previous year when she tormented us with thoughts of wanting to die and feeling like she was so stupid she should just "jump into a bunch of hot lava and kill herself." Another day she exclaimed as she was happily helping me around the house, "Mom, me heart is telling me that I am choosing the right! I am so happy!" Success! Pack up the textbooks, no need for them here.
As with any pilgrimage, there are difficult paths to travel. Days filled with weariness and question. But what gets you to the end is endurance of faith. So it is with our journey. The days we are broken down and immovable we look forward and find a gentle strength that pushes us from behind. The days our fires are stomped out and we sit blindly in the cold with the shiver of regret, we press together and warm ourselves with other's lights. As each day passes we see where we have come. We continue on, one foot ahead of the other and enjoy the things we see on the way.
[For a more in depth description of the book please read my posting A Thomas Jefferson Education Overview under the Leadership Education Link.]