real encouragement for real homeschooling moms

the responsible and diligent homeschooling mom

Humorist Erma Bombeck tells the story of discovering a desire to organize her home.  She says “It happens every November. I don’t know why.  I suffer an attack of domesticity.  I want to bustle about in a starched apron, bake bread, iron sheets, and make my own soap.  I want to beat mattresses, mend cleaning rags, wax the driveway, and can green beans. 

Last November’s seizure was a doozie!  When I returned to my slovenly ways I discovered I had rearranged the furniture, giving it all the personality of a bus station restroom.  Ignoring the advice of experts, I washed the draperies, causing the lining to sag like a toddler’s underwear….I have found that a cold shower shocks me back to my slovenly ways.  I know I am slovenly because I gave myself one of those magazine quizzes once to find out if I was “children-geared,” “husband-geared,” or “home-geared.” 

The “child-geared” mother often referred to her husband as what’s-his-name and took a tape recorder to the labor room to record her suffering so she could play it at her children’s weddings.  I wasn’t that.  A “husband-geared” woman fed her husband steak and the kids hamburger.  I wasn’t that.  A “home-geared” woman fixed up the basement for the family to live in and cried whenever someone splashed water on her kitchen tiles.  I wasn’t that.  According to my score, I wasn’t crazy about any one of the three.  In fact, in homemaking I only scored five out of a possible hundred points.  (I changed the paper in my birdcage with some regularity.” (from At Wit’s End.)

Running a household is a challenge, that is for sure.  Many young women are not prepared to do so when they marry, though I think most of them really are excited at the prospect of having their own homes.  The sale of cookbooks and all manner of kitchen supplies has never been more in command.  Books like Martha Stewart’s Homekeeping Handbook: The Essential Guide to Caring for Everything in Your Homeand Cheryl Mendelson’s Home Comforts: The Art and Science of Keeping House remain best sellers. 

Cable TV shows featuring cooks like Rachel Ray, Paula Deen, and the Barefoot Contessa are popular and inspire tremendous sales in the cookbooks.  Every county home extension office and community college, as well as many kitchen stores offer specialiity cooking classes and even craft stores make cake and cookie decorating a simple task with their often-free courses. And, of course, the internet is a wealth of suggestions, instructions, and recipes for caring for any aspect of meal preparation and housekeeping.

When I first married, I didn’t know much about cooking.  But I did know that if I could read and follow directions, delicious meals were only a cookbook away.  My mother had always cooked “from scratch” and that is what I intended to do, too, so I purchased the basic Better Homes and Gardens Cookbook and asked my mom to write down her best recipes.  After a year or so, I also subscribed to a Farm Journal Cookbook club and learned how to cook and bake using the same ingredients used by county fair winners!  That was the fun part of homemaking, to me.  The cleaning was another story!

Though a young woman might not know much about keeping house, there are many good resources available.  But my contention is that the true need for women who run their homes is not really the training as much as it is the character that it takes to make it all happen.  You may know how to do any number of things in a home, but if you aren’t motivated by the desire to do them and to do them well, which is equally important, it won’t matter what you know.

Proverbs 31:13-28 list for us many of the tasks that a homemaker is responsible to do: purchase and prepare meals, provide clothing for the family, reaching out to the poor, managing household chores, overseeing those who are hired to help the family, and maintaining the household part of the family budget, whether it is by bringing in her own earnings or making wise purchases. 

In reading this passage, I see a variety of character qualities that are necessary in order for a woman to pull it all off.  Today I am looking at two of these traits that I believe we need, especially as homeschooling moms, to do our jobs well:  responsibility and diligence.

Demonstrating responsibility is accomplished when you are able to do things that need to be done without having to be reminded to do them.  I have often described this quality to my children by telling them that it is an inward nagging sense that there is something you must do and you do not feel comfortable resting until it is accomplished.

Diligence comes from the root word that means “to love earnestly”, and it is defined as the steady application in business of any kind, the constant effort to accomplish what is undertaken.  In other words, using all your energy to accomplish your goals, knowing that, as Christians, we are to do all things as unto the Lord.

As homeschooling moms, a huge part of what we do during the day is running the household.  To the list of responsibilities of the Proverbs 31 woman, we also add educating our children.  Because we “earnestly love” our families, we desire to meet their needs, whether they are physical, emotional, or educational.  But we will only be able to do so as we remember that we are homeschooling our children for one reason alone, to bring glory to the Lord.  Exceptional educational opportunities, children who get big scholarships, avoidance of peer pressure and influence, and any number of other reasons to teach our children at home may be part of our goals.  But we will only genuinely be motivated to persevere if we remember that we must be doing them as unto the Lord.

If I think about 32.5 years of marriage, times the number of loads of laundry I have done for 2 parents, 6 children and 1 grandma, I am amazed to know that I have washed, dried, folded, (sometimes ironed) and put away roughly 25,560 loads of laundry.  That is  over 200,000 socks!  Or, in that same amount of time, provided 35,587 meals for a family and sometimes guests.  Or that I have overseen nearly 20,000 hours of education of one sort or another during that time. Just thinking of those numbers takes my breath away. 

Moms, as we consider the character that is necessary to meet our responsibilities with diligence, we have to remember that character comes by God’s grace, by looking into his word and trusting these words  “Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.  (Matthew 11:29-30)



  songbirdy wrote @

this was fabulous to read!

Thanks for the encouragement it gave. I have a hard time with the diligence. I think I would have loved to have Erma be my mentor!

I’ve often wished I could have a ‘counter’ to count the loads of laundry I’ve done. That way, after one year I could sit there at the Christmas dinner table and say, “I washed 1000 loads of laundry this year, 1068 to be exact!”


  thatmom wrote @

Oh, let me tell you, laundry has always been the most difficult task for me. When we first had little ones, we lived on the 4th floor of an apartment building with no elevator and the washing machines were in the basement. With two little ones in diapers, I needed to wash daily but the rule was only two days a week so I think that started my frustration with laundry!

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