Homeschooling Alone Through Deployments

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Recently I asked my readership to name topics you would like to see more of on So You Call Yourself A Homeschooler? I had several responses via FB, email, and Twitter. And one that kept coming up is homeschooling as a single parent. Although I, myself, am not a single parent I do have several year long periods of my marriage (due to combat deployments) that I have had to physically do it all alone. At first I would have never made the connection, however a few of my dear friends who are single mothers told me that physically during these deployments, I am a single mom. After some reflection, I understand what they mean.

I do want to clarify that in no way am I claiming to “know what it’s like” to be a single parent. I have my dear husband’s support, even if we are on different continents and he is at war. I still have someone praying for me that loves me, understands me, AND PROVIDES for my family. I do not have to worry about how to provide for my family, but one thing I do have on my mind is the threat of danger that my beloved husband is exposed to during our separations, and that is no easy feat. This article is a brief insight to the challenges I face when I am (due to deployments) a single homeschooling parent.

I remember the first time I said goodbye to my husband for a year in June of 2004. How do you prepare for that? How can you say goodbye to the love of your life and make it good enough to last for a year? That is something that I have had to figure out several times over the last 8 years. And let me tell you – you can’t. You cannot prepare yourself for a good-bye to last a year. Nor can you prepare yourself for the ups and downs of being a single parent 24/7 for the next long 365 days ahead. The bottom line is – you have no choice – so you figure out how to manage the best with what God has given you.

Although homeschooling has ALWAYS been a blessing for my family, I wanted to share the unique challenges that military spouses face while homeschooling during a long combat deployment. It is imperative that we share the good AND the bad experiences with one another to provide encouragement during the tough times – and we ALL have them.

These are the greatest challenges I face in times of homeschooling and life in general as a single parent (during deployments and other military separations):

  1. Being on the clock 24/7 ALONE. Every single parent that is reading this article knows what I mean. Sure, I’ve been a stay-at-home mother for nearly 12 years now, but having the support of my husband makes a HUGE difference. I commend the single mother’s and father’s out there that do this all the time. I know for me that I feel like caving in at least once during the year my husband is away. I cannot imagine what it must feel like to do it by yourself for years at at time.
  2. Being there emotionally for my children when they cry for their father. Nothing prepares your heart (not even previous experience) for the cry of a child that has dreams that their daddy is killed at war. Nothing prepares your heart to hear your child cry and wail because they think that daddy CHOSE to be away because he doesn’t love you anymore. Nothing prepares your heart to see your babies cry because they want to “touch” their daddy and are sick of only hearing his voice. And knowing there is nothing – nothing at all, I can do to take the pain away. All the kisses, hugs, and prayers cannot replace the fact that daddy is away.
  3. Having to be the strong one all of the time – and the truth of the matter is: I miss him too. I adore my children and do my best to be strong for them. But the reality is I am human and unable to keep this up all of the time. Yes, I get my strength from Christ and that is the ONLY reason I am able to carry on the way I do.
  4. Being blamed for daddy’s absence. All three of our children, at least once, have held deep anger towards me as in their minds they believed daddy was gone because of me. I am not entirely sure what shapes this idea, but I can tell you this: It is very hard to see your child mad at you for something that has NOTHING to do with you. However I cannot expect them to comprehend this as my children all felt this way somewhere between the ages of 2 and 3-years-old. But we deal with it the best we can and move on. We always move on.
  5. Homeschooling on the days when I am tired and miss him {my husband} the most. This is a personal challenge for me. There are always days that I miss my husband so bad it HURTS. I find it more and more difficult to stay focused on days like these and it is a real challenge to lead a productive school day. But like I said above, I give it to Christ, speak the Word and pray. And them I move on. I always move on.

How do I cope? In addition to praying and reading my Bible daily, I make sure I am involved with outside activities (and support groups) and have accountability partners. It have been these three tools that have helped keep me in line when things get tough.

Despite the challenges, it is not ALL bad. There will always be great joy when parents are raising their children. I want to be clear that I do not focus on the negative – rather the positive. However, I do feel it necessary to show my human side of failure as I know that others out there are going thru the very same things. We need to encourage one another in our struggles to make sure that JOY is at the forefront of our lives – no matter the circumstances!

Rejoice in the Lord always [delight, gladden yourselves in Him]; again I say, Rejoice!        Philippians 4:4

You will show me the path of life; in Your presence is fullness of joy, at Your right hand there are pleasures forevermore. Psalm 16: 11

I want to encourage all of the single parents out there to continue to be strong. You are a source of encouragement to not only your children, but to everyone around you. I know at times it gets hard – as does life for any living person – but we must CHOSE to keep moving on. I encourage you to become involved in any local support systems for homeschool families, single parent ministries, and anything else that supports the way you lead your family. I commend you for the job you do and want you to know that I am praying for you – ALL of you. And YOU CAN DO IT. You can do whatever it is you put your heart and mind to. I BELIEVE IN YOU!!


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