Eight years ago, when my oldest son was in Montessori preschool and my husband and I were researching the option of keeping him home to learn, I called a woman I didn’t know at all simply because she happened to be a homeschooler. I clumsily introduced myself and told her why I was calling, and she proceeded to allay my anxiety and turn an awkward conversation into a wonderful connection between two hearts that shared a desire to find the best for their children. And after that day, after she answered my questions patiently and joyfully, I never spoke to her again.
Somehow in the past couple of years– in subtle small steps, successes and failures large and small– I have become an on-the-fly homeschooling mentor. This fact has taken me by surprise and frankly I don’t feel as if I deserve the privilege, seeing as how I haven’t graduated anyone and I still have struggles and questions of my own. Nevertheless the phone calls, emails and texts come in regularly asking for advice and tips and encouragement.
I fielded one of those phone calls this past week. A precious friend, one who remains close to my heart even though thousands of miles separate us, is finishing up her first homeschooling year with her twin Kindergarten boys. She asked question after question, gently sighing at my answers, relaxing into my words as I reminded her of her purpose and spoke grace to her anxious mama’s heart. A few times she apologized for taking my time, for only calling when she needed advice, and then another question would pop into her mind and she would quickly add it to the conversation. I tried to assure her that I love helping her and encouraging her and untying the guilt-knots she has tied herself in, and she believed me. I think.
But what I don’t think I made clear enough was how the conversation benefitted me.
The coin of mentoring- flipping between our need for encouragement and our ability to provide it to others- is one that benefits both sides. The woman who helped me all those years ago had a profound effect on me, though I don’t even remember her name. But a bit surprising to me is the truth that I, in all likelihood, also had an effect on her. Maybe she was in the midst of a difficult week. Maybe she needed to be reminded of why she chose the path of homeschooling and speaking her reasons to me gave her a much-needed boost. At the very least our conversation probably made her feel like a link in the chain that connects all of us on this challenging and rewarding journey.
As we come to the end of a school year, and as we start to plan for the next one, I’d like to remind you that we as homeschooling moms are often better together. That reaching out- either as a mentor or a mentee- benefits all involved. Isn’t that what we’re doing here, in this online place- I learn from you, and you learn from me?
So I say to you: thanks for being here. As you come seeking encouragement in this place, you bring some for me as well.
Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing.
1 Thessalonians 5:11