I didn’t realize I was stressed until the text came in. Squinting at the words on the screen, ridiculously small for my middle-aged eyes, emotion poured forth as the tiny words coalesced and their meaning penetrated. An internal dam broke, relief flooding through me as my breath whooshed out, a soft emptying of my lungs. It was that released breath that illuminated my hidden stress, pent up worry freed to the air, a small, dark cloud, vanishing in an instant. Poof!
My kid’s state testing results were in. Believing I had long ago ceased to be overly concerned about such things, I have often counseled fellow homeschool moms regarding testing. Every year I say the same phrases, worn with use, words designed to put the dreaded testing ritual into its proper perspective. I speak the words to mommies whose glazed eyes and tightened faces expose the stress they valiantly try to hide.
“The test scores don’t matter. Use them as a tool only, a guide to show where you may need to work harder next year, but not as an indicator of your child’s intelligence.”
“The test cannot tell you how smart your kid is. Some incredibly gifted people test quite poorly.”
“The test cannot tell you how you’re doing as a teacher. I’ve known moms who are diligent teachers, with kids who bomb the tests. And I’ve known scattered moms who do very little, yet their kids score at the top.”
These are all words that are true, spoken with utter sincerity by a mama whose two oldest children struggled mightily with language. It pains me to see the panic in the eyes of my comrades, the weariness of soul that leaches the joy from our homeschools. I desire to encourage. Having forded the swirling waters of state testing with two unconventional learners, I have survived the vortex of emotions that go with it. Good scores, bad scores, cramming vital bits of information into their leaky brains before the big day or acting all cool and not studying at all…yeah, I’ve pretty much done and seen and felt it all.
So it is with some surprise that, when this year’s results came in, I found this bottled up worry leaking out in that one soft sigh of relief. It has led me to question my sincerity. Am I a hypocrite, preaching trust to others these past years, whilst secretly stroking my own monster of fear in the basement of my mind? Where is the trust in our Father that I often advocate? Have I really grown so little over the past 14 years of this homeschooling journey?
Recently I was privileged to join a group of homeschooling sisters in a neighboring town. I spoke of these very things, how we worry and allow our focus to become mired in all the wrong things. Most of the mamas there were homeschool veterans, women who felt pretty cool about the state testing hoops we have to jump through. However, as we talked, we realized that we do fret about far too many things.
Time and perspective give us victory over some fears, like the dreaded state test. That beast may no longer strike panic in our hearts, but mama-worry never really dies, does it? It simply morphs and shifts its gaze to fresh topics as we outgrow others.
The relief I felt while reading the texted results of my kids’ tests that day was centered around my son. His learning disability has been a source of much fear, as well as much growth, for me as his mama and teacher. I have learned to step back and allow him to approach his education in a far more relaxed manner than was comfortable for me. We’ve spent the past couple of years focusing more on his talents than on his weaknesses. His talents are theater and dance, not exactly subjects conducive to an academic future.
Peaceful that our choices in his education were right for him, I nevertheless thought about his future. Would he be able to go to college? If not, what should we do? Would he be prepared to support a family? Having backed off from most traditional learning, I did not have high hopes for this, his final mandatory state test. I thought I was prepared for whatever the results might be. I was not.
He did well.
In fact, he did very well. I was dumbfounded. Two years of backing off, at times it felt like slacking off, and to say that his score had improved from the previous test is a gross understatement. His score will actually qualify him for a good student insurance discount, something I read about on our statement but dismissed as an impossibility. His success flung open a closet door in my head, one that was filled with mommy worries, one I didn’t realize I possessed.
So am I a hypocrite? No, I don’t think so. Am I a normal mom, who has gotten so used to unconsciously worrying that I mistakenly think I’m not? You bet. Once again I see that my focus is not on the One who is in control here, and my trust is not where it should be.
How easy it is to forget that my Father has a plan for my children that will not be thwarted. I am reminded that whether I do it all right, or do it all wrong, He is big enough to weave it all into the beautiful tapestry that is my son’s life and purpose.
As for that closet in my head, the one filled with ‘concerns’ for my son, today it is empty, swept clean and set right. I’m sure I’ll discover more worry-filled nooks and crannies in the future. I am a mom, after all. But I am thankful for yet another standing stone, a reminder that my God is faithful, that He’s got this.
He’s got this.
Whatever today’s concerns for your child are, may I encourage you with a few of my favorite verses?
“Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:6-7
“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11
**If state testing is one of your worries, I wrote these for you. Try reading:
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