To the Middle-aged Homeschool Mom in Crisis

To the Middle-Aged Homeschool Mom in Crisis

Let me just say up front that I understand crises can hit people at any age. I know that children and teens and young adults and seniors can all face life-altering tragedies and challenges. Crises are not solely reserved for middle age. 

That being said, perhaps there is a reason though why the words “midlife” and “crisis” often roll off the tongue together. Unfortunately, for many, the term “midlife crisis” has been reduced to blowing money you don’t have on sports cars and facelifts; when, in fact, there are so many things that can converge in midlife to push us into crisis mode. Middle age has a way of bringing us eyeball to eyeball with things that need to be dealt with now and simply refuse to be put off any longer. Childhood trauma can resurface. Marriages can meet with hard times. Teenagers can push against our neat and tidy family boundaries. Aging parents can require extra care and attention. And, of course, homeschooling adds yet another complicating layer to how we deal with these things. In fact, it could be the one ball that causes us to despair ever being able to juggle all the rest.

If you are smack dab in the middle of what I’m talking about, barely hanging on and holding everything together, you are not alone. If these years between diapers and college are not everything you imagined they would be, again, you are not alone. Welcome to middle age. I wish I had some profound pearl of wisdom to pass on that would magically turn your world right-side up again. I don’t. But from one middle-aged homeschool mom to another, I believe you will get through it. I am. Thus far, I’m living proof that it’s possible. And I am learning a few things along the way that might help to alleviate your feelings of isolation and maybe even gently coax you out of that silo of silence you’ve been hiding in.

The one thing I know for sure is that the road that gets us through crises is paved with faith. I fully believe that God can turn any mess into an “amen” if we follow Him one step of faith at a time. Some days you might have no idea where to set your next step until Jesus lifts His own foot. That’s how close you need to stick to Him. 

Can you see the ways He has been preparing you for this? You have more in your toolbox now than you did when you started your marriage, dewy-eyed and convinced you could literally live on love and laughter (and maybe ramen noodles) if nothing else. You have more in your toolbox now than you did when you set out on this homeschool journey, armed with a foolproof plan that eventually proved to you what a fool you were for thinking you had it all figured out. Your best laid plans are in your other pants. You know, the ones you used to wear before you opted for the comfort and convenience of whatever it is you wear during school hours now. And you’re content for those plans to stay there. Your initial vision of perfection and all the unrealistic expectations you had for yourself and for your children no doubt spectacularly crashed against your day-to-day reality at some point. It was probably a shocking disappointment at first, but I bet you eventually hit your stride. You found your confidence and left the poison of comparison behind. You learned how to make homeschooling work for your family. This probably took years, and the progress may have felt so slow that you didn’t even notice it. But, I’m guessing it happened or at least is happening for you. 

The crises that middle age is throwing at you right now are more opportunities to learn and grow and let go like that. It really is a gift to be forced to deal with all the things that have been swept under that proverbial rug at this stage of life. You might not have been ready to battle these demons before. You might not feel ready now. But just think of how it will free you to run the rest of your earthly race without those things weighing you down. It’s worth it. Find forgiveness — for yourself and for others — and find freedom. Finally. 

You can’t (or at least you really, really shouldn’t) walk this way alone though. I challenge you to risk vulnerability and reach out for the help you need. Remember, this is the angst of middle age. Chances are your friends are feeling it too. Be authentic with them. But, more than that, specifically ask God to show you a safe person with whom you can step beyond authenticity into the realm of total transparency. There is a difference, and you may need wisdom in knowing who can be trusted with complete openness.

When crises strike, they will likely require a modification in your homeschool routine as well. Be open to any changes that are best for your family in this season. God cares about your kids even more than you do, and He has a plan to get you through this — all of you. Be as open as you can with your children, without causing them unnecessary fear or worry. Model for them the healthy behaviour you hope they will one day exhibit as parents. Maybe it’s time to outsource a course or two. Maybe it’s time to drop something and pull back to bare bones for a bit. Maybe your kids themselves will have ideas you haven’t thought of. Be flexible, and whatever you do, don’t cling to your homeschool plans (even those revamped ones in your current pants’ pocket) as an idol for which you are willing to sacrifice the health of your family or your marriage.

The last thing I can say, that really says it all, is — pray. Then pray again. And pray some more. Keep your heart open and tender before God so He can do the work in you that He wants to. Guard yourself against any temptation to doubt His goodness. A healthy relationship with Him hinges on love. Not duty. Not willpower. Not determination. Not head knowledge. Not even that linchpin of many a homeschool family — habit. Only love! And I know from painful experience that it’s impossible to love a God you don’t trust. You might still be able to confess to loving Him with your lips while you doubt His heart. But what good is the confession of the mouth without the belief of the heart?

There are precious things God wants to show you in these wilderness valleys you are walking through, but they are things you can only see with the eyes of your heart. Don’t let your heart be darkened by distrust, or you will become blind to the beauty of this place. Keep the deepest, darkest corners of your heart exposed to His light and love. It’s the pure in heart who see God. And I’m guessing if you are in the throes of a midlife crisis, you’re desperate for any glimpse of Him you can get. So let your heart be purely His, and you will know His presence with you — and, really, that’s the best and only thing that will get you through, not just the middle of your life, but every day of the rest of it.

Written by Erin Evans

After 21 years as a pastor’s wife, Erin is now learning what it is to be a navy chaplain’s wife, her husband having recently joined the Canadian Armed Forces. As mom and home educator to four amazing children, she has become a lifelong learner who is passionate about educational philosophy. A lover of languages, she has learned a little Latin and a lot of Hebrew in recent years and spends way too much time reading really old books. A timid tourist turned passionate pilgrim, she has travelled and led travellers to the Holy Land. Her story is one of unlikely grace that she prays will both challenge and bless others on their journey toward greater intimacy with Jesus. You can find Erin online at her blog Unlikely Grace, and you can also find more of her writings at My Peace in the Puzzle.

"Train up a child in the way he should go and when he is old, he will not depart from it" (Proverbs 22:6).