Homeschool SuperMoms

What goes around, comes around. The Creature Who Needed No Sleep found herself with one of her own. Madonna and Toddler, original oil painting by Steve Henderson.

One week after the birth of our first child found us camping with the Creature Who Needs No Sleep. Driven from our hot, stuffy apartment (no air conditioning) we relished the cool, mountain air, not to mention the lack of neighbors irritated by the wailings of a newborn.

I wouldn’t be human if I didn’t admit that people’s comments,

“You went camping ONE WEEK after the birth of a baby? You’re an AMAZING woman,” made me feel like pretty hot stuff indeed.

We waited two weeks after the birth of the second child to do the camping thing. People continued to comment on how amazing I was. I continued to lap it up.

Third Time, Still Not Learning

With the third child, we camped 6 weeks before the baby was born, in a lightning storm, with a two-year-old who literally bounced off the walls of the tent, and a run-in with a black mama sow bear and her three cubs. The term amazing began to be replaced with other terms, and I can’t say I disagree.

By the fourth child — this story, along with our childbearing years, does come to an end — I stayed home, with the baby, in a hammock. I didn’t need people to tell me I was amazing anymore; I knew that just getting out of bed every morning was testament to some sort of ability and acumen.

How to Be Told. You Are Amazing!

This was a good attitude to have by the time we started homeschooling, because if you haven’t figured it out yet, there is a lot of — frequently self-imposed — pressure on homeschooling parents to perform. And the way homeschooling parents receive the accolade,

“You are AMAZING!”

is to produce children who read at four, do sixth-grade math in third grade, and use words like “apologetics” and “synergistic.” Oh, and they have beautiful handwriting, impeccable manners, and perfectly modulated voices as they practice their Latin declensions (older children learn Greek or Hebrew, and for fun, the entire family gets together and performs impromptu Greek tragedies).

You thought your kids were amazing because they build a model ship. And then someone told you that THEIR kids built a life-size version. Golden Sea, original oil painting by Steve Henderson; licensed open edition print at Great Big Canvas.

Isn’t this an amazing family? And you, by virtue of being the teacher at the top, are truly amazing, because you produce quality educational products that thoroughly impress — and quite possibly overwhelm — the people around you.

When your children aren’t setting up intricate structures of pulleys and ramps to test out basic physic problems they’ve been curious about, they do their chores, and your house is clean, pristine, and dust free.

Despite the copious amount of advanced reading done by all the household members (your nine-year-old just eats up The Federalist Papers), books and papers are neatly stored away in your designated schoolroom, which the husband of the family (whose primary purpose is to conduct morning Bible studies; the children so, so enjoy this special worship time together, and they take turns playing the piano for the songs — many of them composed within the family — that you sing) remodeled into a series of cabinets and drawers and desks that look like what Laura Ingalls Wilder used.

Not You, Huh?

If this doesn’t describe you, be relieved, very very relieved, because this level of amazing-ness is improbable for anyone to achieve and maintain, although you’d never know it by the hints and comments people drop about their super, and superlative, progeny.

Through years of homeschooling, I have heard variations on the theme:

“Evangeline was a little slower learning her multiplication tables — she was, oh, 6 or so, when her brother had them down by five.”

There’s no one quite like you, or your family members, in this world. You are unique. The Christmas List, original oil painting by Steve Henderson.

“We’re doing basic biology in third grade this year: after dissecting the cow on the dining room table, we used the meat to create meals for the homeless shelter. Joseph, eight, preached the sermon.”

“Stella was so disappointed when she came in third in the Kindergarten National Science Fair competition. Her research on electromagneticism and the life cycle of worms was quite well done.”

And you’re saying to yourself, “My kid just lisped her way through Green Eggs and Ham. We were pretty excited, too, about her brother figuring out the first part of tying his shoes. The loop will come later.”

Listen: You’re amazing. Your kids are amazing — whether or not they write Haiku in ancient Aramaic. As a homeschooling family you are amazing because you live together — All. The. Time. — talk, laugh, experiment, create, encourage, grow, and learn.

How you do it is as individual as you are, and as long as you don’t compare yourself with the illusion that other people are putting forth, you’ll be just fine.

Thank You

Thank you for joining me at This Woman Writes. A 20-year veteran of homeschooling, I write about the subject on Thursdays.

If life seems overwhelming and you’re tired of graham crackers and peanut butter for dinner again, please check out my Recipes section, which I post on Tuesdays.

If you’re a Christian and feeling pressured by unrealistic expectations of perfection, check out Contempo Christianity on Wednesdays at This Woman Writes and Commonsense Christianity, my blog at BeliefNet.

For writing help — both for yourself and in teaching your kids, look at my book, Grammar Despair at

If you’re living on a single or extra small budget, check out Live Happily on Less, which distills 30-years of creative budgeting into a fun, quick-reading book.

Prospective artists in the family? Steve Henderson’s (my Norwegian Artist) Step by Step Watercolor Success is a two-day workshop in digital format.

This article is linked to The Jenny EvolutionThe Mind to HomesteadA Peek into My ParadiseChristian Mom BloggerEssential Things, Happy and Blessed HomeLiving Well Spending Less, Graced SimplicityKatherines CornerJenny MullinixLive Laugh RoweThankful ThursdaysFrugally Sustainable, Serving JoyfullyA Blossoming LifeThe Prairie Homestead,  Mama DianeThe Chicken ChickMoms the WordMy Joy Filled LifeMop It up MondayTeaching What Is GoodA Mama’s StoryTeaching What Is GoodGrowing Home BlogA Wise WomanWalking RedeemedA Little R and RWholehearted HomeHope in Every SeasonRaising HomemakersMama BZZZFrugally SustainableThriving ThursdayLive Laugh RoweWe Are That FamilyJenni MullinixGraced SimplicityEnchanted Homeschooling MomLiving Well Spending LessKatherine’s Corner,

19 Responses

    1. Thank you, Jacqueline, for your kind words — and I give you your affirmation that you are a very good writer, an organized blogger, and a hardworking woman who does much each day that is good.

      I write for a living, as part of running Steve Henderson Fine Art studios — and I love, love, love writing. It gives my brain the activity that it craves — which, if it doesn’t get, it spends time in hyper-active anxiety!

  1. So fun to come across your blog via Mama Moments link up! You’re right – the expectations and pressure is largely self-imposed. It can be hard because there’s no one to blame but yourself if things aren’t going right – or at least that’s what we tell ourselves. Thanks for sharing!

    1. Shannen: thank you for visiting! Do be back — I write on Homeschooling every Thursday; simple living on Fridays; Contempo Christianity on Wednesdays, and food on Tuesdays.

      That’s just it: we tell ourselves, “There’s no one to blame but ourselves when things go wrong, ” but that’s so NOT right! Whom else to blame? How about the economy — which is manipulated by unscrupulous people? or the rules and regulations imposed upon us by the same, and other, unscrupulous people? The increasing encroachment on our rights, by the same and more unscrupulous people? How about nosy neighbors, the increasing coldness and rudeness of our society, the disinformation provided by sources that are supposed to be neutral?

      Those are a lot of outside factors that affect our lives and our days, directly and indirectly, and they can all be part of the blame when things don’t go right. Yes, we all have a responsibility individually, but we can stop punishing ourselves for being the ONLY reason why things don’t go right in our lives.

      That’s my diatribe. Be encouraged, my friend — you are doing your best, and there’s nothing more any person can do but his best. — Carolyn

    1. Shelly: Thank you for the visit, and thank you for your kind words. I know the feeling of needing just the right thing, at just the right time! May you have a beautiful day with your wonderful, beautiful family. — Carolyn

  2. My goodness, this was just so beautiful! I have been homeschooling for a very, very long time now and I seem to have another 19 more years left….we just found out we are with child #12!!! I have graduated four so far…You know, sometimes I feel like SuperMom though as I wonder exactly, how did I do that?

    I am glad I found this today as I needed to read it!
    I will poke around more at naptime.

    1. Christi: Thank you for your kind words, and congratulations on the good news of a new, precious, beautiful human being.

      You are SuperMom, my friend — we all are — only it looks different than what we’re told it looks like. SuperMom gets up even when she’s tired; bites back a retort even when it’s deserved; looks at the pile of dishes and says, “I’ll put on some music while I do these and dance — exercise and work at the same time.” SuperMom lives through each day, and when she messes up — as we all do — she says, “Oh, well. Looks like I need a little more sleep tonight. And a cup of tea.”

      SuperMom realizes that dust exists, papers pile up, and dinner can be late and really unimpressive looking. She knows that she is finitely human, and it’s not up to her to make sure that everything works perfectly, all the time — actually, nothing ever works perfectly, any of the time. SuperMom is human, and because she is reminded of this all the time, she accepts the humanity and frailties of others.

      Would that we had more people like this on the planet. My best to you, Christi — may you get some good rest and have a heart filled with peace, even when there is chaos and noise (which is the BEST thing about a big family!) — Carolyn

    1. Thank you, KC — that’s the ticket, is knowing that we’re not alone, tremendously weird, and so strange that nobody could possibly relate to anything we think or say. So much of our insecurities stem from thinking that we’re the only ones who think/act/live the way we do!

  3. We have a number of “over achievers” in our local homeschool community. I like to say I’m an “under achiever” homeschooler. I’d rather my kids enjoy lots of play time than stress about being a grade ahead of their public school peers. We’re in our 6th year of official homeschooling and have found a system that more or less works for us – which is really what’s important.

    1. Stephanie — Good for you! And don’t underestimate the influence you have on people in your group, people who are overwhelmed by the overachievers but not confident enough, strong enough, bold enough, ready enough to stand up for their way of doing things. They look at you and breathe a sigh of relief, and though they may not say anything, they go home and consider doing some thinking for themselves. If they do this long enough, they’ll grow in strength, and become an example to others — and you will have been the person who inspires them.

      Ultimately, your children will grow up into adults, and they’ll look back at their childhood. What will they see? Constant pressure to perform and impress, or times of laughter, acceptance, and belonging? I’ll go for the latter any time, and ironically, it results in the performance and excellence that we strive for. It just looks different, because it fits the individual child.

      Keep it up — you’ve got the right attitude. People, not performances, matter. — Carolyn

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