I do not know if it is the weather in January (gray, cold, and generally miserable), evaluating our progress from the beginning of the year to this point (January is usually a half way mark) or the normal emotional let down after the celebrations of the holydays but many moms, myself included, find that this time of year difficult. After considering this question within myself and listening to moms articulate their feelings I have come to the conclusion that having feelings of doubt are generally a real and normal part of teaching, raising and loving our children.
My pediatrician used to tell me that 'only the sincerely good moms are the ones asking the questions, feelings the doubts and reading the how to books'. I think what she was trying to do was reassure me during moments of doubt. We will probably always ask ourselves 'did I do the right thing?'
My oldest is 30 years old and has two children of her own and there are times when I will replay her childhood in my mind and examine my reactions, responses, and actions to various situations. It is amusing sometimes (and at other times it is poignant) to listen to my children retell a childhood incident and realize that they saw the incident completely differently than I did. When I watch my daughter with her children I see some aspects of my parenting of her and then there is a trademark in her style that is all her own. I sometimes wish I could have been as good a parent as I believe her to be. I think that is why the dear Jesus blest me with 10 children. He knew I would need a lot of practice to get it right. :) (And believe me when I tell you there is and always will be plenty of room for improvement.)
In parenting our first duty is to build our relationship with Jesus. We must come to Jesus as a child and get to know the Lord in an intimate way. It is this loving relationship with our God that we are better able to 'hear and understand' what this loving and tender Lord desires of us. When we pray for guidance from the Lord, He never fails to send empowerment from the Holy Spirit. Jesus does not want us to be confused about the path we are to take as we strive to do His will. Through prayer, humble desire, and patient listening Jesus will show us the way to go. Sometimes we have to ask for confirmation from others whose opinions we trust and then there are those times when we must just do what we believe to be the right thing as we understand God's will for us and the children He asks us to care for.
Nagging doubt is a tool of the Tempter. He delights in seeing the Lord's little ones wandering and confused. He wants us to second guess our every move. He will replay the movie of our mistakes for us time and time again. The Tempter shows us this movie and he adds special effects that make our mistakes glaring and distorted. The Tempter draws us backward into doubt, worry and anxiety. It is the Lord who beckons us forward into His embrace. There is no mistake that the Lord can not fix if we will but turn the challenge into His care. Jesus tenderly instructs and lovingly guides. We must continually remind ourselves that it is Jesus to whom we belong. His love for us is more than our human comprehension can understand.
One of the most wonderful aspects of the human spirit (a spirit that is empowered by the Lord) is our nature that feels we can always improve upon the present or the past. We are constantly moving to find a better plan, solution, or answer. This is why my parenting is different from my mom's and why my daughter's is different than mine. However the bones of the message, the love, the sincere desire to do the right thing, the concern for her welfare, the longing that she grow to be a productive adult remain throughout the generations. It is the bones of the message that draws us to one another. Jesus celebrates the message and helps us deal with the details.
You are a beautifully empowered mom. You are searching for the answers to the challenges that you feel are coming into your family. Keep praying and keep trusting in the Lord to show you where He wants you to go. There are days here in our homeschool when I wonder what the book my children will write will be called. I can't wait to read it. I especially will enjoy the chapter "The Homeschooling Years or What Was My Mom Thinking?" :) I keep a copy of the Thomas Merton prayer taped to my kitchen cabinets. The gist of the prayer is: we do not know for certain if we are following in the Lord's will, but the Lord honors our sincere desire to do so.
Do not second guess the importance of your faithful love of your children. You are the best mom for your children or the good Jesus would not have given them to you. You are hand picked by the Father and He picked you because He loves those children. Go forward.
Let us pray together a Memorare for the intentions of all homeschooling moms who are struggling during this season in their lives. Let us ask that nagging doubt be banished from our minds and hearts. Let us send the Tempter away with the one word that sends him away quickly. That one word is the sweet name of our Savior, Jesus. Amen.
Sending out a prayer,