Enhanced – read by the author
Real-Life Homeschooling typography

by Ashley Wiggers

Finding Humor When Plans Go Awry

y boys and I had been learning about stars all week. We made a galaxy bottle, constellations out of marshmallows and toothpicks, and checked out lots of books from the library on stars.

One activity I found sounded perfect for us, and I thought it could be a fun culmination of our celestial learning. Picture this: colorfully painted rocks with stars on them (using a stencil) and chalk lines connecting the rocks, creating large-scale constellations at our local park’s chalk drawing area! What could go wrong?

Well, insert actual people into my plan and it gets a little messy. For one thing, the whole stencil on a rock idea was not a good idea. Instead of colorful stars on our rocks, we ended up with a color mash-up blob. Since kids enjoy mixing bright colors more than using them, our decorated items often end up somewhere between brown and pukey green.

After doing my best to keep it together and allow for the appropriate amount of freedom and instruction during this failed painting adventure, I was not up for the amount of corralling needed to use our wet, painted rocks covered in interesting shades of green and brown for constellation placement. So I let them run free for a while, paint some sticks, tried hard to not let those sticks be used as weapons, ate lunch on a park bench, then went home.

My amazing plan, which would have been so good, essentially turned into a few painted rocks that were not even pretty enough to use in the landscaping. While retelling this story to my mother-in-law, we both started laughing, and I realized how funny it is when we try to put together these masterful plans.

In the last issue of the magazine, I wrote about letting go of timing. In this issue, I’d like to suggest the need for holding our plans loosely with a readiness to laugh when what we expect turns into puke-painted rocks.

Why is it so hard at times to enjoy these moments and just let them be what they are?

I think it’s our expectations that set us up for failure. I hardly ever post on social media. Mostly because I don’t have the time that I would feel compelled to spend telling about the good, bad, and ugly that goes into the pictures I take of my family. I don’t want to post about the hardships of motherhood without the balance of how rewarding it can be. I also don’t want to only post smiling pictures of my kids frolicking in fields. Let’s face it… who does that unless it’s for Instagram?

I’d like to reimagine our idea of beauty—to see it in just the normal everyday lives we live. Nowhere near perfect or Instagram-worthy most of the time… but real. That’s what makes it so beautiful.

Wiggers family smiling
We were able to go to two homeschool conventions this year in different parts of the country. At both of them, I can’t begin to tell you how refreshing it was to see so many families choosing the harder road of home education. There they were toting around kids and doing their best to make choices that would suit their family’s needs. I watched as one dad held his three-year-old son up eye to eye and explained that if he wanted to walk like a big boy instead of ride, he needed to cooperate like one. Alex and I glanced at each other and smiled thinking of our own feisty three-year-old and the conversations we have with him regularly about cooperation. Another time, a mom asking questions about our curriculum was interrupted when her toddler tugged on her arm and announced it was time to “peeeeee!!!!” Watching her walk away and calmly say, “Well, I hope we make it to the bathroom” after realizing how far it was, made me grateful. Grateful for parents like her who had obviously accepted this life with children’s needs that tend to pop up out of nowhere and interrupt us. I met one mom who told me that their family has a very different schedule than most. Because they own a restaurant, her husband gets home late and leaves before the kids are awake. So they made up for this by also staying up late to spend time with their dad each night when he gets home. With the freedom of homeschooling, why not?

These moments are beautiful to me. They are the real-life homeschooling stories I adore of parents investing their time and creativity to make it all work. The amount of effort it takes to teach, feed, correct, and love tiny humans into adult ones is no small thing. So in light of this, I thought it would only be fitting to start putting pictures in this column of my real-life homeschooling moments. To help us regain that idea of beauty in the everyday normal happenings of life. And there really is nothing more normal or natural than home educating our own children. The world paints it as an oddity, and it sure isn’t the easy route to take, but think of all you’d miss if you went in a different direction.

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shley Wiggers grew up in the early days of the homeschooling movement. She was taught by her late mother, Debbie Strayer, who was an educator, speaker, and the author of numerous homeschooling materials. It was through Debbie’s encouragement and love that Ashley learned the value of being homeschooled. Currently, Ashley is the co-executive editor of Homeschooling Today magazine, public relations director for Geography Matters, and the author of the Profiles from History series. Ashley makes her home in Lutz, FL, with her supportive father, Greg, her loving husband, Alex, their precious sons, Lincoln and Jackson, along with their newest blessing, baby Ruby.