When homeschooling hurts

Assalamo ‘alaykum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh.

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Sometimes mothers do themselves no favours. Sometimes we let our expectations – of our children, our life and ourselves – run wild (because we won’t ever be heard saying things like “they are just children“, right?). Sometimes we fall into thinking that what we see on homeschooling blogs or on Pinterest is actual reality. It is at that point that Shaytaan packs a picnic, because he knows he is going to have a nice day out with us. Or a week. Or a month…

Then homeschooling hurts.

All those voices of family and acquaintances – or indeed strangers – that absolutely don’t get home education become our voices. “You are messing them up. They won’t know how to behave in the outside world. You are depriving them of first hand experience of life. They are lonely…”

Mom cries herself to sleep, maybe even after having a disagreement with dad about the kids. Shaytaan pops the champagne open.

Sometimes we feel precariously perched on the edge of a cliff. Any minor setback is enough to push us over the edge: from the firm land of “I know why I am doing this. It is the right thing to do. I can do it, bi idhnillah” into “What are you doing? This is madness! send them to school! You can’t do this!”. Freefall. Blind panic.

The weight of our responsibilities crushes us.We feel numb and we don’t want to talk about it. But, inside, we are screaming. We cannot think about anything else: *the future of our children* (reads the inside of our eyelids, in gigantic tridimensional gem-encrusted golden block letters.)

It hunts us in our dreams.

Each and every day we cope. The dark stormy sea engulfing us, we paddle furiously to keep our head above the water, gasping for breath.

*The future of our children*- booms a voice in our head – but what about their present? When we realise (thank you there Shaytaan) that our all consuming concern with their future has made us a nervous, tense, dry, unavailable and chronically exhausted wreck of a mother, we fall even deeper. “I am failing them. On. Every. level.”

We don’t know what to do. We are too fed up and hopeless to search the internet for a solution, too tired for books, too ashamed and negative to reach out to people.

We might be of those who wait for it to settle on its own (but will it, really?) or we might be of the blessed ones that Allah helps out of the fog, maybe thanks to a friendly voice saying “Go back to Allah.”

When homeschooling – and/or parenting – hurts, go back to Allah.

If inside one is rolling his or her eyes at this, or they feel they would have preferred the link to some life planning expert’s free consultation site, then their need to return to Allah is very great and a very urgent matter.

Going back to Allah seems like something very abstract to people that really need to go back to Allah. It feels to them as something that they don’t have enough time or energy to do. Something for people whose kids go to school, right?

We truly are in desperate need.

So – go back to Allah, you say – where do I start?

For starters, remember Allah as you can. Remembering Him means exactly that: think about Him behind whatever you notice in His creation; say His Name. Sit after your prayer and invest those 40 seconds that it takes to say your astaghfirullah, subhanallah, alhamdulillah, Allahu Akbar, even if you have to start off with one and build from there. Mean it. The next step after remembering His greatness, all encompassing power and complete ability, is to ASK. It is a natural succession, in sha’ Allah.

Ask Him because He can. Ask Him because you believe and now is the time to show it.

By taking these simple little steps you will soon find yourself back to doing what you do for His sake. We have read it and heard it countless times, now it is the time to let it affect our life:

The Prophet (salla Allahu alaihi wa sallam) said, “Allah the Most High said, ‘I am as My servant thinks I am. I am with him when he mentions Me. If he mentions Me to himself, I mention him to Myself; and if he mentions Me in an assembly, I mention him in an assembly greater than it. If he draws near to Me a hand’s length, I draw near to him an arm’s length. And if he comes to Me walking, I go to him at speed.’”

[Sahih Al-Bukhari]

Doing your chores with love, for His sake. Bearing with patience whatever little challenge or setback you encounter. Slowing down. Lowering your voice… At times it will still be overwhelming and you will probably still feel as though you are slightly drowning… but by the mercy of Allah  you will not let it go as far or affect you as deeply; and you will recover quickly.

When it comes to raising children Imaan is key: Our Imaan.

When you find yourself about to enroll your kids in a boarding school in another continent, take a look at your Imaan and take some quick and simple steps:

  • Whatever it is that you are fighting to achieve, stop it (obviously it is not working that way).
  • See the bigger picture: You are struggling with homeschooling and that is a struggle. Now imagine bigger struggles, such as not being able to find anything to feed your children, living in a war zone, having to flee your home, being afflicted by illness, by family break-ups, losing your children… (may Allah protect us).
  • Remember that Allah never burden a person beyond her scope. If Allah put you in this situation, then you can handle it.
  • Do your best with what you have, in terms of your situation, time resources… this is key to gratefulness.
  • Remember that a woman’s duty is that of creating a positive atmosphere in the house (and I mean something deeper than a bunch of flowers here and there and some scented candles!!!). The wife and mother is the “home maker”, you put her in a building and she – with her caring for others –  makes it a home. If we find ourself overstretched to the point that we are less than pleasant to be around for our husband and children, then it is time to re-assess our priorities. If we are feeling angry, empty and, most importantly, disconnected from our Lord, what kind of home are we making?
  • Think “We are a Muslim family”. Whatever that means to you, make it a reality.
  • Remember that you are not alone in your struggle. I cannot say all, but at least some of those homeschooling moms online who inspire – as well as intimidate – us so much have dowloaded admission forms to enrol their offspring in that boarding school far far away!…

Everybody has his or her own challanges and hardships in this life. Many parents and home educators sometimes feel as though they are stranded, with their children, on a  desert island (yes! the tiny one with a single palm tree sticking out from the middle) surrounded by shark infested waters that seem to have no end. The Muslim, however, is a particular kid of “castaway”: he or she is certain that Allah’s help is never far from the believer and, by His mercy, all things can happen. Barren little islands can be made into comfortable gardens, bridges can be built and sharks can be tamed (or made into sushi!).

Boarding school in another continent is hardly ever the answer. May Allah help us return to Him wholeheartedly, that is the only thing that will truly heal us when homeschooling hurts.

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