Unmet Expectations

During a Girls Weekend some time ago, my friends and I came to realize that our disappointments in life are essentially the result of unmet expectations. It’s that bottom layer that we create on our way towards something, thinking, This is how it will probably be. But then it isn’t.

I could easily scribble down a laundry list of things that apply to this thinking; I’m sure you could too. (Heck, does anything ever really turn out how we expected?) For the sake of discretion and clarity, I’ll say that today my unmet expectations have to do specifically with homeschooling. I’m telling you, No, this is not at all what I expected.

I expected that I’d have to rein myself in with art projects and fun activities and be more diligent with bookwork. The reality is that it’s been the other way around. It’s been more difficult for me to be creative with our time and thereby inspire creativity in the boys. In fact, I skip abstract projects all the time because they feel so tiresome in thought.

I expected to breeze through school with eight-year-old Jeremy, who’s eager and curious and wants so badly to excel in everything. The reality is that five-year-old Jackson is reading chapter books and acing third grade spelling tests and counting money, and he doesn’t think any of it is a big deal at all. On the other side of the table is Jeremy, comparing himself endlessly to his little brother, jealous and angry and crippled with self-doubt.

I expected to utilize a long bookmarked list of websites and resources, but the reality is that many of those links have gone untouched. There are too many to sort through, so I don’t even try.

I expected to dabble in a myriad of subjects, but the reality is that reading and critical thinking is more important than anything right now, so we belabor on these things and I resolve to fill in the gaps with other topics “later,” whenever that might be.

Lastly, I expected to do this for one year and then most likely wander back to the school system, but the reality is that I am trying to visualize what homeschooling during the high school years might look like. (For real, Jennie?)

Like many homeschooling parents, I’m hard on myself. At co-op a few weeks ago, I spoke with an experienced mom who reassured me, “You’ll always feel like you’re not doing enough, but then your child will grow up and you’ll realize you did just fine. Better than fine, even.”

I’ll be careful not to expect that, because who in the world knows what life will look like in another ten years. Instead, I will do my best to steady on with what feels right for right now. And really, I’m not disappointed with homeschooling at all. I love it. It’s just not what I expected. And with that, I think we’ll start the school day with watercolor painting and another cup of coffee.