Day 7. Embracing Your Actual Self. {Not Your Ideal Self.}

31 days final big button

I first took the Meyers Briggs personality test when I was 25 years old. I tested as an extrovert, but just barely. When I took the same test several years later, I tested as an introvert. Every time I’ve taken it since it’s the same thing: INFJ. Though our personalities are prone to subtle change over time, I know without a doubt that I was never an actual extrovert. I simply wanted to be. I wanted to identify as a “people-person.” Therefore I provided the answers that I desired to be true about me, even though they weren’t actually true.

Perhaps it sounds like I intentionally lied. I didn’t. “Denial” is probably a better way of putting it. I simply hadn’t grown up enough to put on the lenses of acceptance yet. I was still trying to live up to the expectations and ideals that I wanted to be true for me.

Though I’d grown up enough to recognize the denial and idealism that guided my personality test answers, I still had a long way to go before I realized how this same wrongful thinking affected motherhood and the educational model I wanted for our kids.

I can still easily recall the visions I had for our homeschool. Visions of meaningful interaction all day long. Visions of delightful teaching opportunities throughout the day. We’ll learn about fractions when we cook!  We’ll do math at the grocery store!

playmobil guy

Ironically, it was the constant interaction that took years off my life. It was the ridiculous expectation that kept me trying to be someone I wasn’t even though it was killing me. I got to the point where I did not even attempt to go to the grocery store with all of my kids, let alone do math with them while we shopped. This introverted homeschool mom was desperate for a break from the tiny humans who were never at a shortage for words.

Husband: Sooo….we’re having graham crackers for dinner?

Me: Yes. Eating an actual meal required taking our children to Walmart. So I chose a supper of crackers. For the win.

We were years into homeschooling before I began to reconcile the real with the ideal. Things would have been so much easier if I’d worked with my personality instead of fighting against it.

We remain open to any educational alternative that one or all of our children may need down the road. But if public school ceases to be an okay option for someone and I homeschool again, I’ll do it differently. We’ll choose a way that puts less of the teaching burden on me. I’ll get paid in currency that matters. Marriage, wholeness, and mental health will be priorities.

Virtually all of our decisions about education revolve around the children — what’s “best” for them. But I submit that if the parent is excessively taxed and stressed, it’s not the best option, no matter how great it may be for the kids. This is true whether our kids are in public, private, or home-school.

I realize that being a mom is sacrificial by nature. We serve and sacrifice and surrender and then we get up the next day and do it all over again. It’s part of the job description and we’re fueled by a love that’s buried deep within our parental DNA. But rest and balance still matter. We live like they’re negotiable but eventually, we’ll have to pay the debt.

During my post-homeschool season of intentional rest, I wrote these words:

Self-care may look a bit different for each of us but when it’s really a necessary and life-saving endeavor, maybe we should think of it as stewardship instead of selfishness. 

When you’re too off-balance for too long, when a good thing ceases to be a feasible thing, perhaps it’s time to acknowledge your real self and accept your real limits. It doesn’t mean you’ve failed. And it certainly doesn’t mean you don’t measure up to the mom who seems to be rocking the very thing you can’t get together. It simply means you’re unique. And so is your family. It also means you’re human.

Be honest about your life, your season, your limits, and your God-given personality. They’re far more important variables than you may think.

But first, take off that tattered superhero cape and go take a nap.

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What about you? Do you find yourself fighting against your personality and your limits instead of embracing them as part of the equation? 

For all the posts in this 31-day series, go here. And to read the other posts I’ve written on topic of schooling, you can go here and find them all in one place.

I’m linking up with The Nester and her tribe of 31 Dayers.

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Comments

  1. says

    i needed this bit of truth as a school mama, yes, but for everyday life, too. i absolutely, 100% related with your first personality test experience. i’ve done it so many times: answering questions based on what i think would be ideal. i’m loving this series, friend!

  2. says

    It’s been interesting for me since we finished homeschooling and now one child has left the home for good and the other is in her second year of college. At first I hated the alone time and silence, but now I realize that this is what feeds me. I’ve been tempted to feel guilty about enjoying this time the Lord has given me to focus on me and replenish after years of insomnia (which I haven’t had for several months!). I don’t think I truly grasped at the time how much homeschooling and just mothering was taking out of me. I’m not saying it wasn’t the right decision for our family, and I really embraced a relaxed approach to it, but I think the constantness of demands and not having time to write and do other replenishing things caused me stress. Sounds like you and I are similar in a lot of ways.

  3. says

    I so appreciated what you said in this post today,. Although I have been homeschooling now for over 12 years, I still struggle on some days with not meeting up to my “idealistic expectations” of how our homeschool should be. Today is one of those days for me. My boys have reached grades in which more independent study is certainly appropriate, but I struggle with that independence even though I need it because as their teacher getting pulled from one student to another and one grade to another can be exhausting and they need it because it’s good training for them for the years to come. Your words are a timely reminder that our homeschool and how I teach doesn’t have to look like another’s. Because, after all, flexibility in the classroom is one of the reasons why our family has chosen this way to educate our boys. Anyway, I said all of that to say “thank you.” HE used you to speak to me today.

  4. says

    Oh yes, I see this in my own life. We are homeschooling again, but just one. And I’m ever mindful of my limitations and absolutely realistic about the real me that likes quiet and time without talking and alone time. I need those daily.

    We’re using an online program, so I don’t have to be the teacher. We also have the great resource of a tech lab at our high school just for students in this program. I get a break three mornings a week. It’s still be a tough adjustment, but it’s working.

    I don’t see myself ever doing homeschool the way we did before, as it was just too much for this INTJ. Too much.

    I’ve accepted reality and it’s a pretty good place to be.

  5. Sarah says

    This post is full of freedom and grace. I just bought Brennan Manning’s The Ragamuffin Gospel because of you writing about it. Excited to read it. Thanks for writing.

    Sarah

  6. says

    19 years of homeschooling zapped my very introverted self. I am just now beginning to restore. Silence is music to my ears. I think introverts who choose to homeschool must be diligent on self-care.

  7. Brittney says

    Thank you so much for writing on this topic. I stumbled on your 31 days from flowerpatch farm girl. This topic and the words you write are constantly on my mind. We feel called to public school at this time, bc it requires more faith on our part, but often consider homeschool or private school. The idea of giving ourselves grace in this area is something I have never ever heard. The talk is always about how one schoong choice is superior over another. Thank you!

  8. Clare says

    I knew from the first post of yours I read today (thanks to a friend sharing The Ministry of Netflix of Facebook) that you were an INFJ :) This fellow INFJ found the having small children at home all the time days exhausting. And even with older kids (9 and 11) I find that I have to do less than I want to do out in the world because I need to have energy left over to deal with 6 hours of having the kids home in the evenings! I also tested right on the E/I border when I was at university, but I was in denial too. I wanted to be extroverted, and it’s taken a good 20 years to come to terms with the fact that I really do need ‘Introvert Time’ where I don’t see people and hide in my room under my snuggly blanket with a book or Netflix! I work as a music teacher in local high schools, a very ‘out there’ people job! And since having kids I’ve found that I can’t do as much teaching or I have nothing left over for my family. It’s a delicate balancing act! With age has come acceptance, and I know I’m so much better for it, and so are my family! because I’m not exhausted all the time! My daughter is an ISFJ and she already knows how to manage her introversion. She comes home from school, straight to her room to relax in her own company for a couple of hours. Extroverted son follows me around the house talking… Being at peace with who you really are is so freeing and allows you to contribute to the world in the way you are best suited. Love your posts :)

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