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Why I’m Done With Conformity

nonconformWe’re homeschoolers that go to school. Yeah, sounds a bit strange, but the Lord led our family away from the establishment of traditional work a few years ago. And naturally, it bled over to our approach on schooling.

You see, I nor my dear husband are good at conforming. It’s something that gets in the way of our marriage at times. Neither of us likes to bend to a model of what society tells us we should be.

He doesn’t like to get up to go to work early. He doesn’t work 8 to 5 like the rest of the world. Warren works around his lack of being a morning person.

It drives me batty on occasion because I do like to have dinner as a family at a predictable time. I know I have until about 8 p.m. before my son becomes a leech. My kids don’t go to bed early (must be a couple of non-conformists in training). They like to be with me, in particular, until they fall asleep. It’s what works for us in this season of our life.

And when I start looking at those around me, I start thinking maybe we’re doing something wrong. Kids should go to bed early, right? We should work 8-5 and eat dinner at six on the nose. But we don’t.

I don’t knock anybody that has figured out that magical dinner at six and kids to bed at 7:30. Trust me, I wish my family liked early as much as I do. But it’s my job to have the grace to love them for who they are.

Call it my Ephesians 4:2, “Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.” I have to bear with my family’s rhythms to show them the grace God has bestowed upon my life. 

As much as I’d like this ideal family, I think I’d miss some real glimpses of the people they are.

When I left my job three years ago to work for myself (from which I’m now taking a break), I found myself apt to work around my life. I’d get up early and work until the family rose and during lulls in the day.

That’s who I am. I want to be fully present for the little moments – even those crying on the floor desperate pleas to be picked up right now.

So with that sketch of our life out there for you, I said we’re homeschoolers that go to school.

I was working alongside some guys at my last place of employment where their wives were staying home to educate the children. I can tell you, I was jealous. I was intrigued. I wanted that life. A husband at work all day and time with little people for myself.

At least, that’s what I thought I wanted.

But I knew I needed some support. A leader that would navigate me through the curriculum, the teaching, the power struggles I had no idea would become regular features of our days.

So, I heard about this program for homeschool families. I dragged my husband along to see what it was all about.

God spoke to my heart in that interest meeting. He said, “This is where your kids belong.”

You see, I don’t buy into the accepted time to start school is five years old by September 1st. For some kids, that time is later. For others, that time is earlier.

In our daughter’s case, she was ready to be with kids her age. She was an only child until last spring and preferred hanging out with adults. So, I asked, “Can we start her in K4 just before she turns four?”

The director tested her and told me, “Yes.”

The non-conformist in me did a couple of Hallelujahs when she said that. We agreed that we would work through any age-related problems as she got older.

Our first year homeschooling was hard. I was pregnant and she didn’t like doing the assignments at home. She wanted to play and be little. So, we did some activities, but we mostly played.

And guess what? She learned what she needed when I stopped pushing conformity on her.

This year, we needed to do a little more work on school. Learning phonics. Learning the basics of math. My sweet RL likes to delay things. She doesn’t like to sit still at home. She likes to ride her bike. She likes to wash the pollen off the windshield.

But she fervently likes “going to school” two days a week. She likes having a small group of friends there. She likes going to Sonic with her grandmother after classes. But she also likes being with me. And I like her home with me.

She likes that we can read 10 library books in a morning. She likes playing with her brother on home days.

She likes to help me fold certain pieces of laundry. She likes to play math games and phonics games alongside four rounds of Operation.

The days I push the conformity are the days of battle. The days I approach school like the fun it should be, it’s magical.

I like to think Jesus was a bit nonconformist. He didn’t take the traditional approach or the easy road.

Homeschooling, self-employment and other traits of the nonconformists are not easy paths. But there’s magic, tears, small victories, big leaps and lots of trust in God involved in this lifestyle.

Michelangelo didn’t have an easy job ahead of him in his painting of the Sistine Chapel. He was a sculptor, not a fresco painter. He even wrote about his disgruntlement with the commission in a poem.

But the masterpiece that followed his diligence is now a masterpiece. It’s also what bishops see when they elect a Pope.

That’s no small feat.

I’m taking a chance in being a nonconformist in my lifestyle, but I can see the fruit of being the constant in my children’s and husband’s life.

I can see God’s work in my heart. But I can see the works of God I’ve been commissioned with becoming great people. Full of His love. Full of the tools they need to be another generation of nonconforming Brandons. May His force be with them.

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