Iraq and Vietnam Speak to Homeschoolers

Without treading on dangerous political ground, I think it’s safe to say we all agree the war in Iraq has become a bit like the Vietnam war in this one sense: It’s difficult to know exactly to extricate ourselves gracefully from the situation. Or in military speak; it can be challenging to find an exit strategy.

It’s easy to become embroiled in a military conflict for a modern militarized nation. And in some wars an exit strategy is relatively simple: When the opposing nation-state signs an unconditional surrender you begin winding things down. But increasingly in modern warfare it’s difficult to know exactly what constitutes a “victory” or to define a “loss”. Even more challenging is to know how to gracefully uninvolve ourselves from an undertaking and carry on with “a normal life.”

Homeschooling is a bit like that, isn’t it? It’s relatively simple to become involved. You just purchase some curriculum, notify the school district of your intention to homeschool and you’re good to go. To be sure, homeschooling is a major undertaking and it will test all that you are over the years. But perhaps the most difficult part of homeschooling is knowing what to do when you’re finished.

For a homeschool mother, the act of homeschooling become all-encompassing. It defines the very boundaries of your life for many years. It’s your job. It’s your hobby. It’s your mission field. It’s your ministry. It’s your first waking thought each morning. It’s your last jumbled thought as you drift off to sleep. For many if not most women it becomes your identity. So today’s question: Do you have an exit strategy? Do you have a plan for “after” homeschooling?

Even if you have a large family and homeschool all the way through high school, odds are you’re going to need an exit strategy by your late fifties- a time when you likely have at least another 25-30 productive years ahead of you. If you have a smaller family and only homeschool through elementary or middle school you may well need an achievable exit strategy before the age of 40. That leaves you half a lifetime “after homeschooling.”

What’s going to become your job then? What will your hobby be? What will become your mission field; your ministry, your first and last thought each day? To suddenly find yourself with no place to go and nothing to do each day is a trainwreck looking for a place to happen. You NEED an exit strategy.

Who were you “before homescooling?” Do you even know who you were? Or were you married young and started a family when most friends were still in graduate school? What inspires you? What makes you tick? What ELSE were you created to do? What passion will make you want to get out of bed every morning for the rest of your life?

Even though time is precious and money is tight, I want to encourage you to BEGIN developing an exit strategy NOW! Don’t wait until your home is suddenly empty to work on a plan. Take time to pursue OTHER interests and explore other giftings. Take a class at the community center or local junior college in pottery or writing or stained glass. Volunteer one day each month at a homeless shelter or nursing home. Do SOMETHING to begin the discovery journey of finding out who you’re going to be AFTER homeschooling. Pray earnestly. Ask the Lord to help show you the hidden gardener or playwright within the homeschool mom. Give Him a chance to speak to you about the special needs tutor or abused women’s mentor that is waiting to emerge. Let Him stir your soul to discover the veiled poet or nurse that will star in the second half of your life.

For most of us, the first eight verses of Ecclesiastes 3 are familiar…

1 There is a time for everything,
and a season for every activity under heaven:

2 a time to be born and a time to die,
a time to plant and a time to uproot,

3 a time to kill and a time to heal,
a time to tear down and a time to build,

4 a time to weep and a time to laugh,
a time to mourn and a time to dance,

5 a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
a time to embrace and a time to refrain,

6 a time to search and a time to give up,
a time to keep and a time to throw away,

7 a time to tear and a time to mend,
a time to be silent and a time to speak,

8 a time to love and a time to hate,
a time for war and a time for peace.

There is a time to homeschool, and a time to do something else. Beginning asking the Lord today to help you find an exit strategy; a purpose for the NEXT SEASON of your life. He is faithful.


3 Responses so far »

  1. 1

    Jennifer said,

    Thanks Steve. Sheri has already provoked that in me with all her projects and stuff. My husband encourages me to look at the cost of classes I’ve been “dreaming” about.

  2. 2

    Mary Arnold said,

    Thank YOU for sharing this. I still have 12 years left, but I have already begun to think about the things I want to do. I remember Jane sharing on the forums years ago about how glad she was that she pursued her painting and passions and that has always been in the back of my mind. (warm smile)

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