This thought keeps coming back to me this summer: my chidren do not all have the same mother. Oh I gave birth to them all..I remember that much..but my younger children definately do not have the same mother that my older children had. I am not the same person at all.
It’s a good thing, really. I cannot imagine anything sadder than living through 16 years of life, 16 years of walking the path of faith, and not growing as an individual. But the gift of growth has left me a changed person and the mother that I am today is very different that the mother that I was to my boys when they were that age.
Gabe was born when I was 24 years old. Nathan was born the day before my 26th birthday. There was a miniscule 14 months between them. I was young, inexperienced, and most definately overwhelmed. I parented the way my peers did. If everyone else did it this way, then it must be right. Right? My peers introduced cereal at 3 months, vegetables at 4 months, fruits at 5 months, and strained meats at 6 months, all out of a baby food jar, so I did too. It would never have occurred to me to breastfeed exclusively until my baby showed an interest in eating table food, then feeding him directly from the table.
My peers all potty trained their children on a specific time table, when the child in question reached 2 or before. They kept rigorous potty schedules and so did I..and it worked…but I much prefer waiting until my child indicates he or she is ready, even if it doesn’t fit with socially constructed norms. It doesn’t take nearly as long and we don’t make each another nearly as stressed and I find that if I don’t bring the subject up, nobody else does either.
My peers all put their children in half-day preschool (at least the stay at home moms did) for “socialization”, so I did too. We’ve skipped the whole preschool thing this time around, finding plenty of socialization at home, at church, at life. I don’t miss the expense or the extra running around, and the kids seem to be making friends just fine.
It’s not that any of the above things are wrong..to my knowledge,none of my peers ever had children who grew up to be serial killers. To the contrary, they are all pretty nice kids. It’s just that the plan that God has for you may not necessarily be the plan that He has for me and it’s taken me awhile to be OK with that. There are still plenty of opportunities for peer pressure within the homeschooling community~and I’m refering to the parents here, not the kids. Pressure to eat certain types of foods, pressure to use only natural medicines, even pressure to have lots and lots of children. I have dear friends who happen to eat only certain types of food, or who happen to only use natural medicine, or who happen to have large families (larger even than ours!) and each one of them has chosen a good path. The test for me is my heart. If I seek to do any or all or none of these things because that is the direction the Lord is leading our family, then that is a good thing..but if I seek after them because someone else does it that way, then I am parenting by peers, which at it’s heart is idolatry, and I don’t want to go back there again.