I have spent a lot of time over the past year thinking about the “comparison trap” and how easy it is to fall into that mindset. Everyone at some point in their life has experienced this. Some have been able to learn how to easily sidestep these little land mines as they have ventured on their journey through life. The comparison trap really got a hold of me when I was a mom of young kiddos and I thought I was the only one who struggled with all of the new realities of motherhood. Feeling so unprepared, I always questioned if I could really raise kids who were self-sufficient and that would contribute to society. I would always compare my mothering skills with those around me or even what I’d see on social media. I’d always feel like I was falling short and doing a disservice to my family because there were things I wasn’t doing or couldn’t do that other moms were able to. It took a while to get my bearings and to feel like it was all going to be okay and I was not going to permanently mess up our boys. That was a difficult valley to walk through, but I learned so much through those young years and I used those experiences as opportunities to work on myself. I was always sure to pray and ask God to help me be the best mom I can be! I knew that God didn’t make a mistake with entrusting Jonathan and Jacob to us, so I learned to be more kind to myself and give myself a lot more grace.
The most important thing I learned is that my journey was always going to different and would never be the same as another mom’s journey, so why would I spend precious time and energy comparing myself with others?
Hoping I was past the worst of these comparison traps, I started our homeschooling journey. To be completely honest, it has been difficult to maneuver through all the additional land mines that have come with this new journey. I have felt myself getting pulled into comparing so many different things. From the curriculum we use, to the way I structure our school days, to what my children are learning and retaining, to what fun experiments we do and how often. Sometimes I feel like we need to do more field trips, or I’m not sure if I’m including enough of the Bible into the curriculum…the list could go on and on. Basically, I have felt like I fall short in this home school journey as well. Sometimes I even wonder if we made the right decision and if I am as equipped as I need to be to be able to do this and feel like I can do it successfully. These comparison traps can be so exhausting, and I feel like I can so easily get caught in a vicious cycle. Then adding the extra layer of a having a child that is Autistic, I can easily fall into the trap that feels more like a pit and it becomes much more difficult to pull myself out.
I have learned that being as transparent as possible can help others feel like they are not alone with some of the same struggles, in addition to also helping me to recognize my human fragility and how much I need God in every single aspect of my life. When I catch myself slipping, I remember who I am in Christ Jesus and how God has never ever let me down or disappointed me before and that He is not going to start now. God is our constant and wants us to depend on Him, to seek Him, and to ask for His help.
If your child is in second grade and still struggling with letter recognition, that is okay. If your child it not at their so-called grade level in math, that is okay. If your child is in 4th grade and is not able to read yet, that is okay. If you are halfway through the school year, or even towards the end, and realize that the curriculum you are using is no longer a good fit for you and your child, it is okay to give yourself permission to switch and find one that is a better fit. So many parents have placed constraints on their family’s homeschooling journey that create limits and a boxed in type of mentality. Society tells us what our child needs to know at what age. I have found that it has been difficult to remove this kind of mentality and to see our homeschooling journey as more of a canvas that we are free to paint on with our children, and to create the most beautiful painting!
Our journey is not going to be like anyone else’s journey and there is nothing wrong with that. When we give ourselves grace and extend that grace to our children, when we look to God for His guidance in what will work the best for our family, and when we remove the walls that have been placed around our children by society, then we are free to experience our homeschooling journey the way it was meant to be. We have been given the gift of more time with our children and to be the ones that teach them and get to see them grow – the way that God designed it. Let’s take advantage of this wonderful opportunity the Lord has given us!