Welcome! Nineteen years ago I was sitting where you are. Only I was unwilling to attend a workshop for new homeschoolers because I was too busy making fun of homeschooling in my spare time. Today, my husband is president of Apologia Educational Ministries, the #1 publisher of creation-based science and Bible curriculum for homeschoolers. Davis and I have been married for twenty-eight years, and we have seven children, three of whom have now graduated from our home school. In recent years as a writer and speaker, I have traveled across the country and to Europe, Asia, and Africa to encourage homeschooling families around the world. What I have found is that through God’s grace, different parts of my reluctant journey touch different people in different places in their lives.
Here is the story of how we got started on this adventure of a lifetime.
Stranger in a Strange Land
In October 1990 I gave birth to our first son. I was sure that I wasn’t going to do any of those things that everybody else had done wrong as parents. You probably had your own list of things that you knew for sure you weren’t going to do or say as a parent, right? Well, we weren’t long into Charles’ childhood before we discovered that he was one of “those” children—very strong-willed. I will never forget shopping at a grocery store when Charles was about nine months old. He was buckled into the cart when he started throwing the fit to end all fits. It got so bad that I had to leave the shopping cart half full and walk out of the store. He was totally out of control. I was so naive that I thought, Yay! We’re going to get the terrible twos over early. But we were just getting started.
As Charles neared school age, I was looking forward to spending some time without him because every day with Charles was a battle. It didn’t matter what subject we were discussing, from what shoes he was going to wear to what food he would agree to eat. Everything was a wrestling match.
There was a time when Davis and I agreed that we were not going to have any other kids after Charles. I’m a firstborn. I married a firstborn. I gave birth to a firstborn. I figured we could all reach some sort of understanding. You know, a you-take-your-corner-of-the-house-and-I’ll-take-mine kind of deal. But then we decided that Charles needed a sibling, and so we had Anderson. Charles and Anderson are complete opposites. And yet they became incredibly close and dearest friends, which is such a blessing.
I always said that I would have all the children Davis was willing to have. Of course, I said this when I believed that he was done after two. And then God got hold of Davis’s heart, and he decided that he was open to however many children God would send. Along came Savannah Anne and then Molly, Elizabeth, Joseph, and Benjamin. But you need to understand that I didn’t come at this as some people do; I had no grand, romantic vision of always wanting a big family.
We were living in Akron when I gave birth to Charles and Anderson. Akron, Ohio, as you probably know, is situated far north of the Mason-Dixon line. For this southern girl, it was a little too far north. I was raised in Texas and was used to 350 sunny days a year. Then we moved to Akron where they get a whopping fifty-six days of sunshine annually. This was very, very hard on me, and the romance of experiencing four seasons quickly faded when I found myself shoveling snow in April. It was in this place that seemed like a foreign country to me where I first heard the word “homeschooling.”
When we moved into our house in Akron, the people across the street brought us brownies. The woman said sweetly, “Oh, you have a son!”
I said, “Yes, how many children do you have?”
“I have four daughters.”
“Really? Where do they go to school?” I asked.
“We don’t send them to school,” she replied.
I was just dumbfounded, because the bus stopped right in front our house.
“We homeschool,” she explained.
I had no self-control. This is what I said to her: “That’s the dumbest thing I’ve ever heard! The bus stops right here! It takes them away for eight luxurious hours a day! Why would you not send them to school?”
She just shook her head knowingly and said, “We need to get together.”
For three years we lived in that neighborhood of cute little houses built in the 1920s. It was the 1990s and there were five stay-at-home moms living on our street. Today you might be hard-pressed to find five stay-at-home moms in your entire neighborhood. But there we were, and we got together for Bible study every Thursday night. Despite the fact that we came from different denominations, we met to worship the King of kings together. I learned something very powerful from these women.
First, these women loved God. They also loved the Bible. You know, the book that so many of us are content to keep on the shelf as a symbol of our faith. But God’s Word meant everything to these women. They opened it and read it without expecting someone else to do it for them.
Second, these women loved their men. They were committed to their husbands. All of us women need to be committed to our men. And everyone who comes in contact with us needs to know that we are crazy about our husbands. These women taught me so much about how to honor, love, and respect Davis.
We had something we called “Baby Bucks.” Each baby buck was worth one hour of babysitting per child. We would switch off kids because we didn’t have the money to do it any other way. We would honor our husbands by regularly making time to go on dates and spend time with them without the kids around.
The third lesson I learned from these women is that they really loved their kids. They were dedicated to a level of motherhood that I had never seen before. However, I’m here to tell you that when it came time to leave Ohio, homeschooling still wasn’t for me.
Don’t miss the rest of my series on homeschooling: