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