I’m in the process of making over an old dresser. It’s an old, claw-footed beauty I inherited from my grandmother. Come to think of it, this isn’t the first transition this lovely piece has seen. In the years since I’ve been blessed to keep it, it’s been painted, decorated, and repurposed a handful of times. It’s done time as a bedroom dresser, a television entertainment unit and a baby changing table. Then, a few years ago, my husband built onto it to convert it into our kitchen island. When it was time to transition to a larger island, I couldn’t bear to part with it, so we returned it to its original design (or as close to original as you can under so many coats of paint) and placed it under our front window.
Removing the piece that served as the overlap for dining when it was an island left it a little shabby looking, so I decided to decoupage the top to cover the flaws. As I write this, the pretty paper I used is drying beneath a coat of decoupage paste, forming loads of unsightly air bubbles, which leaves me wondering if the dresser wasn’t actually better off before I tried to spruce it up. In the end, I’ll likely take a sander and distress those imperfections to make it look like they were always meant to be that way, perfectly imperfect. And while it may not come out the way I first planned, I have faith that it will come out pretty darn good – maybe even better, after all.
And so it goes with homeschooling children. Sometimes we get caught up in the idea of how we thought things were supposed to go, instead of accepting the way they are actually going. We purchase top-rated educational tools, painfully fill in all the boxes in our homeschool planners, or arrange our homeschool spaces right down to the last drawer of neatly arranged, freshly sharpened, color-coded pencils. We imagine our children, knee deep in all these trappings, mastering the finest of educations all while growing into the finest of people thanks to this wonderful lifestyle of home education.
What we don’t ever seem to envision is the drawer sitting half open, pencils all broken and mixed with the remnants of last week’s slime project. We don’t expect to lose our homeschool planner halfway through the first week of school, or watch our teenagers toss textbooks onto the floor in bouts of algebra-induced frustration.
I suppose we all land somewhere in the middle of these two extremes; in a place where a little bit of chaos is more commonplace than a whole lot of perfection. And like my old, claw-footed dresser, this homeschooling thing often needs to be moved, repurposed, made over, or tailored to fit whatever the current need may be. The good news is that if one method doesn’t work, there is always another to try, so never be afraid to shake things up. Those little dings you suffered along the way are just there to remind you that perfection doesn’t exist. But perfectly imperfect does.
Christine Gauvreau is a wife, a mother and a writer who is ever grateful to God for calling her to homeschool. In addition to teaching her own children at home, she teaches creative writing to other homeschoolers in a co-op setting, as well as through lessons she designed for SchoolhouseTeachers.com. Christine shares some of her creative ideas, along with stories about her family’s homeschooling journey at Rubytree Academy (rubytreeacademy.com).