"The Day I Had a Coronary" - June 6, 2006

by Mary Jo Thayer

I feel I must confess, particularly for all the novice homeschoolers, the moment in my life when I realized I had bitten off more than I was able to chew. I refer to this special time as "The Day I Had a Coronary"--homeschooling mom style, that is. When we wig out, we wig out big time. At least I do and, from what I can gather, it has happened at least once in each loving home.

I was a new homeschooler against my will. No one forced me to do it, exactly, but yet I somehow felt forced. At the time, it seemed to be the only solution, so I took it. Keep in mind that you are reading about a woman who claimed–say it loud and say it proud–"I will NEVER homeschool my children!" Yet, here I was, having pulled our children out of school, and I was a little resentful that there seemed to be no traditional avenue that was going to work for our kids. It wasn't until about three years into this calling that I finally accepted and fully embraced the Truth: Parents are the primary educators of their children. The schools are only there to help us do OUR job.

So, on a cold fall day in year number one, I lost it. The kids were not cooperating, and I had begun to uncover some learning issues that were hidden within my children. I found I had a child who did not have good reading comprehension and could not transfer simple math concepts into everyday life. The third grader was way too interested in everyone else's work and would blurt out the answers to the sixth grader's science, only to send the sixth grader running and crying to her room because she felt dumb. And I admit I contributed to that by saying things like, "You need to pay attention and try harder. How is it your sister knows these answers and it's not even her work?" I'm really ashamed of that. The first grader would add further insult to the sixth grader's misery by siding with the third grader. And, the two-year-old was doing what every two-year-old would be doing when his mother ignored him and was rapped up in all the other kids: he was coloring. Coloring himself and the furniture with a dark blue marker!

I could feel the adrenalin start to rise, but I had not yet acquired the good sense to go make myself a cup of tea and lock myself in my bedroom for a time out. So I blew up–nearly literally. The veins were popping from my neck and the steam was coming out my ears. My voice was loud–and I mean really loud–and I remembering shouting something stupid like, "Don't you kids realize that you must stop sinning or you can't go to heaven, and if you don't go to heaven it means I can't go there either!?" Well, I am thankful there was one person in the house at that moment who could see things for what they were, but I'm embarrassed to admit that it was not another adult. It was our sixth grader who had since emerged from her room. She just calmly said, "Mom, sit down, you need a drink of water."

Needless to say, during our post-lunch Rosary that afternoon, I was on my knees facing the Blessed Virgin Mary and begging her to guide me into being the kind of mother God was calling me to be. The kids were behind me sitting on the furniture, rosaries clasped in their little hands, giving each other odd glances and wondering if what had just happened would happen again. I wish I could say, "No." The good part is that I never quite lost it as bad as that first time, and after ten years I hardly ever lose it!

The best part is I was able to go to Confession to a priest who completely understood my problem and who gave me a really good penance. He told me that, perhaps, I was the one who was not cooperating. "Just something to think about," he said.

Used with Permission.
Mary Jo Thayer