Let’s talk about the dreaded gaps we all fear. I have been homeschooling so long I sometimes forget the fears I battled at the beginning of my homeschool journey. However, somehow, like many of you, as I approached the college preparation process, those fears resurfaced. They gnaw at our confidence and have the ability to unsteady even our best homeschool achievements. Ruthlessly, we open the door of our hearts for these diseased perceptions to poison our perspective when we spend our time thinking about gaps. Our fear of gaps blind us from the reality of any real progress we have made.
I still recall the day we had my son’s graduation party. He was my first homeschool graduate. Frankly, while I was very proud of him. I was a bit nervous. I was nervous because in the back of my mind, although I had worked hard not to be like one of those parents. I wondered would he succeed in college? Sure, he was bright, inquisitive and intelligent beyond his years. More importantly, he knew how to engage different strata of society, in a way that I admired. Yet, I was concerned because he had never written what I considered a viable college research paper. Now, I am a writer. I've shared my knowledge with him, and at that time, he had actually written substantial materials himself. Still, I was worried.
Over a medium raw burger with friends, I announced my summer plans for him to write a college research paper. I reasoned this was my last shot to exert some parental influence over his academic life. Looking back, that regret was the formation of my college research writing class because I did not want other parents to fear this gap. But I digress. He flatly refused to do a paper citing his blog work, generous scholarship, which had required, if I recall correctly ten major essays. Moreover, he had served on the editorial board of our homeschool yearbook and a few other publications. Notably, in a role as homeschool leader in our support group, he had composed emails, updated website material, researched material, communicated with a wide variety of people and even taught a coop class.
He was right! He knew how to communicate and wrangle with ideas. Likely, because he had been exposed to a wide variety of literature, different types of people and leadership responsibilities, he had learned to form his own opinions. These opinions had grown into his convictions, which he clearly knew how to express, and I might add continues to do so until this day. Further, he knew how to develop ideas, organize his thoughts and argue his points--he had all the skills and given the motivation, such as a paper deadline, he would deliver. Today, he is completing his PhD while working in a very demanding job.
Did he have gaps? I am sure he did. I am a flawed individual. I often had grandiose ideas for my homeschool that never quite materialized. I try not to mourn over the dollars spent on unopened curriculum, half-used textbooks and workbooks with just as few scribblings on the beginning pages. I will not mention the homeschool trips not taken, projects not completed and failed science experiments. The reality is, even as I write this, I have to be careful not to invite the dreaded gap parasite to destroy my self-confidence as I share my thoughts with you. How I wished someone would have told me there are no such things as gaps. Any informed person will tell you; you don’t know what you don’t know. All of us have gaps. Our thirst to fill those gaps probably accounts for our overcrowded self-help bookstore sections, online clickbait to encourage web surfing and the bustling adult back-to-school market.
In this era of specialization, and homeschool choices, I’d like to see the gap lie finally obliterated. Do we expect a lung specialist to know the intricacies of a high-risk pregnancy? Do we expect the plumber to know how to wire our home alarm system? Do we expect a mathematician to conjugate verbs like a linguist? While we should all have general knowledge of many different area expecting specialty of all educated persons is just not reasonable. Yes, we all should understand concepts and ideas. However, it is unfair to burden ourselves with the near impossible task of pouring knowledge into the heads of our children such that they will never need to seek more knowledge.
Knowledge is expansive; it continues to increase. When God formed the universe, He made it to be expansive. Every day, as I walk closely with Him, I discover a new grace. I have learned, although I think I always knew it intellectually, that God delights in helping me overcome my gaps. He is always renewing my knowledge of Him—and letting me know He loves me. I relish in the fact that while I would have given my kids a perfect mother, one who was more consistent and who followed through on every good homeschooling idea she had, but He chose me. He knew my faults—my gaps. Still, He continues to love me and to daily pursue my heart to serve Him. He takes my gaps, the ones I know about, and definitely the one I do not know about and creates a beautiful redemptive mosaic of my life. My love for Him compels me to continually lay my gaps on the altar so He can transform me. More importantly, being aware of my gaps keeps me on my proverbial knees.
Knowing my own gaps keeps me humble. While I may have mistakenly endeavored to teach my kids everything, I have. Likewise. encouraged my children to become independent thinkers and learners. To balance this thought, this is not to say we should abandon seeking excellence in our homeschools. Quick the contrary, but we should pursue excellence knowing that God, and God alone, will help us to address the gaps in our kids’ academic lives—and it may not always occur the way we think it will. Our walk with Christ is, after all, not a perfect one because we are not perfect beings. We fall but we get right back up. His love for us is steady, although we may fail Him. He does not look at our gaps. He looks at our successes. We should too!–––––––––––––––––––
Cheryl Carter, when she isn’t over-analyzing her homeschooling missteps, continues to pursue the LORD, who relentlessly pursues her despite her gaps, type A personality and unrealistic expectations of herself. When she is not at His feet, she spends her time homeschooling her middle school sons, lamenting about her homeschool mishaps with her three adult children, all ‘successful’ homeschool graduates, and deliriously loving her husband who still, after 39 years of marriage, amazingly believes she has ‘no’ gaps.