Homeschooling: A Journey of Bravery

file (4).jpg

Words & Images by Mary Kathryn Merrifield

My home school journey, nearly ended before it started. Just a few months into home schooling my oldest child Ben, I found myself sitting on my kitchen floor holding four-year-old Ben and my two-year-old Christopher Robin. I was close to 8 months pregnant with our third little boy, Oliver, and had just gotten the life changing phone call that my husband had been diagnosed with stage three renal cancer, and would need his kidney removed immediately. He was currently in the hospital for a completely unrelated issue, his appendix bursting.

So there I sat. Holding onto the most precious little men in my possession. Weeping. I wept for the journey we would walk through, and for what I knew would need to be the end of home schooling for the time being. Providentially, we had (and have!) an incredible community of friends who are like family where we make our home in Florida, sadly away from any immediate family.

Shortly after this happened, two precious mamas of grown babies walked into my kitchen and sat down at my table. "Put the boys in preschool", they said. "Trust us", they said. During times of chaos, you've got to find some kind of constant. And I did. And it was incredibly healing for our entire family.

Both of my oldest sons went on to attend a precious preschool for almost two years. There in the midst of a newborn brother and a father walking through the healing process, my sweet Ben and Christopher Robin thrived. But there was still a continual stirring in my soul. A desire for something a little more for our family.

I am the 28 year old product of a home school education. My mama used to whisper in my ear "you're the bravest person I know". Which is ironic, because she's the bravest person I know. She home schooled my three siblings and I in the early 90's, all while she and my incredible daddy raised my terminally Ill little brother, Ben. My brother passed away at age 16, when I was 17. So I suspect home schooling may also be a way my heart yearns to heal from the grief and the brutal sadness that only a lost sibling can bring.

Miraculously my husband did heal, and our baby Ollie grew into a fiesty toddler. My husband and I felt it was time to truly begin giving our boys the home school experience I, as their mother, had yearned to offer them. An education rich in literature, but also in digging for worms. Memories of St. George and the Dragon, but a knowledge of how to make fresh bread. There's something incredibly comforting and kind about taking a child alongside you as you do life. Let's make this bed. Let's plant these flowers. Let's learn our multiplications at the kitchen table, while we cut into our home made pizza. Let's practice loving our brother well, as we build a castle from wooden blocks. Let's be brave. Let's home school three little men, when the world tells us we can't. It's too hard. You'll go nuts. But instead you pray. You love those sweet boys. You drink amazing wine. And you take it one day at a time.

Life is an education my friends. If you feel the desire to nourish your babies in this manner, be a rebel! Make sure to surround yourself with an incredible community, and enjoy the journey.

Mary Kathryn is a former politico and Mississippi girl turned wife and stay at home mom. She makes her home in Florida where she spends her days chasing after and swimming with her three wild little (and one big) men. She enjoys sharing her journey of grief, healing, and grace on Instagram.