What’s your secret dream? Playing Mozart on your violin? Dancing the Nutcracker? Running a marathon? Inventing a new computer?
I’ll tell you mine: 1) I write books, and I would love them to be on the shelf at my local bookstore. 2) I am passionate about Global Maternal-Child Health.
Do either of those have anything to do with home schooling my kids? Nope. In fact, home schooling my kids in some ways seems to be an obstruction to achieving these goals, or nurturing these passions.
Last week I spent two days at a training for a global health program to resuscitate at-risk newborns in resource-poor settings. (Translation: Helping Babies Breathe.) It’s a fabulous program: requires almost no technology, and what it uses costs $9 per provider and can be boiled to sterilize and re-used, so one provider who receives training and $18 of equipment can save thousands of babies who would otherwise have been “stillborn” or died minutes after birth. Globally, those babies make up 1/3 of neonatal mortality. Obviously, I’m excited about it. My time in Haiti in 2010 and 2011 caused me to look for something like this, and it already exists. I am thrilled.
But to make even a two-day class 20 minutes from my house required a crazy amount of planning and support from Sam, my parents and our neighbor. I left assignment sheets, chore lists, and crock pot meals to make sure my family would experience the least possible amount of disruption. Now imagine what it would take to get me to Nigeria or Haiti or Thailand to teach it there. Oy.
We had some remarkable faculty at my medical school, and one of them was Janet Rowley, who has won numerous awards, including the Lasker Prize, for her work on the genetics of leukemia. When I came home from the first day of my conference completely overwhelmed with how I was going to implement a program like this overseas, Sam said, “Remember what Dr. Rowley said?” Every few years, she spoke to our “Women in Medicine” group at the University. Her message was this, “You can’t do everything at the same time.” She took significant time off from medicine when she had her four children, and only went back to full-time research when her youngest was twelve. Now, her research has changed how we think about cancer, and her discoveries have led to targeting treatment for AML which has saved countless lives.
Do I see homeschooling as a part of my secret passion? No. Do I see it as the end of my secret passion? No, again.
Homeschooling my four children is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to build relationships with some of the most important people in my world. It will last, start to finish, twenty-six years (at the most). There may be progress on my secret passions long before those twenty-six years are up, and not all of that time will be as labor-intensive as it is right now. After that, I hope that these four young people will see how my not-so-secret passions are possible and imagine that theirs are, too.