Fears, Tears and Vocabulary

In the small, Mayberry-type town where I grew up, everyone knew everyone else and no one locked front doors. Children played in the streets and in neighbors’ yards until mamas called them in for a meal.

One day when I was a preschooler, I wanted to visit our next-door neighbors, Mr. & Mrs. Lee, sweet, loving grandparent-types who frequently offered treats to the neighborhood children. Being a much too independent youngster, I scurried out without telling my mother, crossed into the Lees’ yard, and marched right through their front door. They were not home, but I found a nice play spot under their dining room table to await their arrival.

Details of the long-ago event are fuzzy now, but I recall being quite ashamed and fearful that my mamma was searching the neighborhood, frantic over her missing child. I could hear her and neighbors calling, but I was too frightened to let them know where I was. I just knew that I was in trouble and should not have made a social call on my own.

Whether child or adult, certain life-events stick in our memories, often because we experienced shame or regret over the occurrences. Those regrets ooze into our consciousness at inconvenient times, depositing painful feelings of inadequacy and failure.

Useless Vocabulary Words

Moms seem especially vulnerable to that nasty sludge and slime, so I suspect that we should regularly review our Home Schooling Mom’s Vocabulary List. No, Moms, not words on our students’ lists. I mean words on our own mental lists.

Two words should be absent from your list: shame (noun—a painful emotion caused by consciousness of shortcoming*) and rue (verb—wish undone or done differently). In what ways do you rehearse those vocabulary words?

Do you criticize yourself often, thinking that your children might have done better last year if you had used the math curriculum your friend used? Or maybe you berate yourself because you did not finish a particular book or course or unit study that you loved, but you just ran out of time to do it. Eighteen years later, I still occasionally think about a Learning Language Arts through Literature book that we never finished!

When you see or hear of another home school student winning an award, receiving a special honor, or accomplishing some amazing task, do you turn on yourself to think that your children could do those things if you did a better job?

Does your mind drift to questions about your ability to teach your children, thinking you don’t know enough about math, history, science, or whatever subject you didn’t study well or like in your schooling days? You forget that learning is a lifelong event and that you can learn right along with your children, having fun doing it and showing them that no one knows everything. Child and adult alike are always learning.

Does your home’s disarray embarrass you so much that you dread welcoming visitors, robbing you and your family of lessons in service and hospitality to others? Your children never learn what it means to open a home (and heart) to others in the “castle” you call home.

Replace Your Vocabulary Words

Shame and regret can rear their ugly heads in many ways in a home schooling mom’s life. If they besiege you, try these five things to replace your negative vocabulary words with new words:

  • Identify the source of your feelings. Satan certainly loves to tell you that you can’t accomplish those things that have eternal consequences, such as raising and teaching your children for God’s glory. Maybe when you were growing up others told you that you were not capable. Look at you! You are doing something harder and more impressive than do many moms who shuffle their kids off to school and go to an outside job somewhere. Consider what you will have in the future with your family that others might not have. (Ephesians 6:18) Add this new vocabulary word: perseverance (noun—continued or steadfast pursuit or prosecution of an undertaking or aim)
  • Examine your fears apart from your feelings of inadequacy. Take a clear, unemotional look and then make a plan for facing those fears. Refuse to entertain negative thoughts. Enjoy your children now, right where you and they are. Laugh a lot and know that many who have gone before you have succeeded. (Philippians 4:8-9) Add this new vocabulary word: praiseworthy (adjective—worthy to be praised)
  • Consider what you would think of another home school mom who expressed the same inadequacies. Would you judge her harshly? I imagine that you would instead understand what she was feeling and come alongside her to encourage her. Aren’t we usually more inclined to be easier on other people (especially those we idolize) than on ourselves? Give yourself the grace that you would offer to a friend, or even to a stranger, and that God gives you. (2 Corinthians 9:8) Add this new vocabulary word: grace (noun—disposition to kindness, favor, clemency, or compassion)
  • Talk to someone. Be honest. If you feel shame or you rue something you have done or are not doing, talking about it robs shame of the power over you. You will likely find that others feel the same way you feel and you can encourage each other. Sharing with someone might even give you a new idea for something useful to solve a problem. (Proverbs 11:14) Add this new vocabulary word: counsel (noun—recommendation, especially when given as a result of consultation; a policy or plan of action or behavior)
  • Separate who you are in Christ from the job of training and teaching your children. Will you make mistakes? Sure! We all do. However, when we confess our shortcomings to others and to the Lord, He forgives us and washes us completely clean. (1 John 1:9, 2 Corinthians 5:17) Add this new vocabulary word: forgive (noun—to grant relief from; refrain from exacting [a price])
  • You do not have to continue to be ashamed or rue the things you have or have not done. Shame and regret are enemies to defeat. Decide what is important and what will make a difference for your family—and do those things. A new plan or course of action does wonders to clear away past mistakes. Then you can add another vocabulary word to your list: rejoice (intransitive verb—to feel joy or great delight; experience gladness or pleasurable satisfaction).

    *word definitions courtesy of Merriam-Webster Online