||This is my second year homeschooling my 7th grade daughter. We have struggled over these past two years for many reasons and I do feel that we have fallen into a rut. One of the reasons was the terminal illness of my sister which began at about the same time as we began homeschooling and ended with her death last September. I know this entire experience was a lesson in life for my daughter but now she is only doing what she feels like doing and me not pushing her to get things done. I know we could both do a better job. Next year she has asked to return to our parish school. I told her that she can because in many ways I feel that I have failed her and am worried about high school and college. I know in my heart that homeschooling is and has been, in spite of the difficulties, a blessing. There is a very big part of me that wants to bring my fourth grade son home after this school year is over (he does not wish to be homeschooled though), and begin homeschooling my youngest son, who is four now. I am afraid because I feel that I have not done a good job. Some of the reasons are, I have been lazy and truly don't know if I can do it and I do not feel smart enough, especially getting into older grades. I would truly appreciate your advice and encouragement.
Let's begin at the beginning. In prayer. Let's turn our wearied and sorrowed hearts, our tired and confused minds and our worldly questions over to the dearest of Lords. Let's give Him all that troubles us right now. Imagine for a moment that you are resting in His embrace and in this moment nothing interferes with the complete peace and comfort that you are feeling. All is well in this protected place within the Lord's embrace. All is quiet and all is able to be understood within the arms of the Lord.
Jesus, we ask that You shelter and protect our dear sister in Christ as she suffers deeply from the burden of loss. Lord, help her to rest in Your embrace and to lay aside all that causes her pain. Lord, give her the quiet peace that passes all understanding. Embrace her tenderly and allow that she feels the strength of Your embrace and lets go of all her worldly fears, cares, and burdens. Lord, Your love for us goes beyond all understanding and human comprehension. We love You, Lord, and long to see Your face. Amen.
There are really two issues at work in your question. First and most importantly is your feelings of unworthiness due to many burdens and sorrows that you have lovingly borne for the Lord. The death of a loved one is not an easy burden to bear. The death of a sister is far more tragic than many understand. To watch as someone you truly love and are bonded to endures the pain of suffering of a long death is many times more pain than we can comprehend. God heals and gently moves us from the pain to the light and the ability to cope with the loss despite the sorrow. To describe yourself as lazy is the Tempter talking or niggling at you. The Tempter sees in you a loving and devoted daughter of the Lord and he wants to corrupt and destroy your holy witness. Shame on him. We will use the same command that our dear Lord used, "Get behind me Satan!" Your feelings of inability are not laziness but rather exhaustion. We do not fully comprehend the toll sorrow takes upon our life. Having myself been through sorrows, I can attest to the truth that coping and working sacramentally through the work of sorrow is physically and emotionally exhausting.
You have not failed your children. When Jesus was with us in His human body while on earth, He spent His life showing us how to deal with people issues. People issues are at the heart of the Lord's work among His precious little ones. Jesus knows that you have been busy putting your life in order to some degree after the sorrow you suffered. Your children have suffered as well. It is very sad for a child to see their mom sad. They desire to reach out and comfort but they are unable. This is hard for children. Your daughter may want to return to school in order to find a place that does not remind her of the recent sorrows that she has borne through the passing of your dear sister, her aunt. The job of parenting is not accomplished in one year or through one season in a parent's life. Parenting will take years and follows us into Eternity. In Eternity we are praying and interceding on behalf of our dear children. Remember that the Lord has hand-picked you to parent the children that He has given you. He loves your children more than you could love them and from this great love He chose you. There will be seasons of sorrow, work, happiness and challenge. None of these seasons is meant to be the end of parenting. The best parents are those that 'show up for work everyday'.
Allow that you see homeschooling, not as the benchmark of a worthy parent but as another tool that the Lord may or may not be calling you to use. Too many times we moms tend to look to the journey of another and assume that that journey is the one for us as well. It is an honest mistake. We look to the witness of moms whom we respect and want to emulate their work. While this may be worthy it is far more important that we listen to the voice of the Lord as He calls us. To follow the Lord's will for our journey is most important to our ability to find peace.
Spend the next couple of weeks seeking to process all that you have been through. Give yourself time. Sit before the Blessed Sacrament and allow the tender Jesus to comfort and guide you through this discernment process. Take joy in the real truth that the Lord has not and never will abandon you to unbearable sorrow. You are a holy, pure, and docile witness for me. I admire you very much. You are a true sister in Christ. Thank you for sharing your letter with me.
Sending out a prayer,