Dear Homeschooling Mom: I Am Not Your Competition (and You Are Not Mine)
It’s a silent conversation we have, you and I.
Oh we talk openly enough, as most moms do: sharing homeschooling ideas, the latest news about our kids.
But sometimes I look into your eyes and I see a tension… a longing.
I can identify it instantly because there are days I feel it too—loud and clear.
With a certain look, a shrug, or a too-bright smile, we both exhibit these ugliest of emotions between sisters:
Envy. Jealousy. Comparison.
Of course we would never admit this to each other. We only access these bitter places in the most honest of moments. Those times when we finally can see that we’ve been making unrealistic demands of ourselves, and we are digging to discover the “why” behind them.
It’s in these moments when we ask ourselves, “What am I doing? Why do I think that I must do XYZ to be a good homeschooler?”
That’s when we can finally see the despicable weed of comparison that’s bloomed between us: the ugly shrub that now horribly skews our perception of what makes the homeschooling life “bad” or “good.” And we realize that we’ve judged ourselves (and others) in the name of what we believe to be the “correct” answer to that question.
Even worse, we realize that this toxic process has reduced our mom relationships to a comparison game where we’ve placed ourselves on a pedestal side-by-side: one party being “right,” and the other being “wrong.” Which, sadly, reduces our friendships to a checklist of who’s-doing-what-better.
These are not neat-and-clean issues to be tackled. They’re not easy emotions that we can solve with a quick fix of feel-good verbiage.
Burying these emotions doesn’t work either: this only enables their roots to become more entrenched in our heart.
So my ultimate question is this: If we all truly want more connections and deeper friendships, why must we act like this with each other? Why?
Inspiration Instead of Comparison
I’m convinced that we all struggle with the beast of comparison because we were created with a need to relate to each other. This is a survival instinct of sorts—a way to look at others for ideas in dealing with common issues.
However, through the lens of a sinful heart (which all of us have), this “need to relate” quickly twists into a lust for what is not ours; a heart of ingratitude for a situation that is “better”; and an overall discontent with our own life circumstances.
Instead of competition, what if we instead looked at each other as mirrors: me able to see inside your soul and to relate; and you to be able to see and relate to me as well?
This is inspiration (not comparison). Instead of a twisted, unspoken dialog of “well, at least I’m better than you at this one thing,” inspiration is what I believe God intends for us to develop in community.
Can we come out from behind our fragile glass walls and just be honest with each other? Can we be completely transparent—willing to show our ugliest, no-makeup side of ourselves—in the name of authentic community?
Can we say, “I am a messed up mama that has days of feeling like nothing is figured out”?
Can we say, “Some days I’ve done absolutely everything I can think of to help my kids… and I still feel like I’ve failed?”
Because the truth is we’re not enough. I’m not enough. And neither are you.
God has to fill in those gaps for us. We need to hand Him—the creator of our children and orchestrator of every circumstance—our broken pieces and beg for miracles to happen.
We know that He longs to help us in our desperate state (the cross at Calvary clearly demonstrated this).
We also know that God often works his miracles through other people—other broken moms who are willing to admit that they too are sometimes overwhelmed and exhausted by this homeschooling life.
Friend, can we be this to each other? Because if not, we may be circumventing ourselves from receiving the fullest measure God’s grace and peace in homeschooling.
It Starts With Confession
I want to take the first step:
I’m confessing to you (and Jesus) my sin in comparing our homeschools.
I’m acknowledging that neither you or I have it figured out.
I’m also admitting to myself that I will never see the full intricacies of your homeschool day (although I am so blatently aware of my own), and therefore I can not and should not make assumptions (either negative or positive) about what happens behind closed doors in your school.
I’m proclaiming that this homeschool journey is my own and that I have no reason to feel that I must answer to or compare myself with anyone else.
I’m shouting from the rooftops (with both holy fear and freedom) that the Lord is the King of my life and of our homeschool, and therefore I will only answer to Him for my homeschooling decisions.
I’m committing myself to follow only His leading for us, and to not be swayed by what may seem to be a better way in what I see other homeschoolers doing.
Dear friend, as we find each other exhausted and strung out at the grocery store (with quarreling kids hanging off every corner of our shopping cart), may we look upon each other with fresh eyes. May we say, “I’ve been there.”
And dear friend, as we find ourselves sharing about our kids’ latest accomplishments or offering homeschooling advice, may we do so with humble, quiet spirits. May we still tell ourselves, “Even though I see victories, I don’t (and never will) have this figured out.”
This is me offering the olive branch… and seeking a healthier, more authentic (and dare I say, more Christ-filled?) relationship with you, my dear homeschooling friend.
Will you accept it? Can we have this kind of friendship? My heart is praying that we can.