Now there are two words you rarely see together: infertility and homeschooling. In fact, as I thought about writing this, I realized I don’t think I have ever seen anyone actually address this topic.
I am infertile.
And I am a homeschooling mom.
I imagine that if you haven’t read any of my posts before this one, those two sentences might leave you looking like a dog whose water dish has been moved. I mean…what? Doesn’t “infertile” mean you can’t have children? Yes. But doesn’t being a homeschooling mom mean you have a child? Yes.
We have one son through the
miracle journey adventure that is adoptive parenting. And we believe that because God gave us our son, he is our responsibility, and we have chosen homeschooling as the best option for our family.
This brings quite the array of emotions and experiences for me, as the mom/teacher. I know I am not the only “mother of a single” who homeschools, and I suspect I am not the only one who is such because she is barren. Yet I don’t know that I have ever seen anyone talk about it, so here we go.
Odd Man Out
We are the only family in our homeschool community with a single child. An only child. One child. I am well aware of the stereotypes: only children are spoiled (he’s not, not even by his grandparents), only children are miniature adults (ok, sometimes he tries to act more mature than he is), only children don’t know how to share (I’m not sure this should be limited to only children…), only children don’t know how to handle conflict (what child knows how to navigate relationships well).
It is challenging to have an only child in a setting where everyone else has at least two, but more often than not, three, four, or more children. It’s taken for granted that babies will be born every school year, that babies will be passed around, that everyone has a brother or sister.
Except my son. He’s starting to realize he doesn’t have a brother or sister. And he wants one (except for the sharing thing…he doesn’t want to share! ha!). He realizes that not only is he different because his skin doesn’t match his mommy’s & daddy’s, but he doesn’t have a sibling.
The Unspoken Weirdness
Homeschoolers are weird. Some of us thrive on it, and some of us have chosen to homeschool precisely because of that fact. But it is weird to be among a group of people where every other family is dressed alike, has double digit numbers of children, the mom is pregnant every year, or women only seem to talk about diapers, breastfeeding, labor & delivery, and holistic health treatments.
I also wonder if they are looking at me, thinking how weird it must be to see one woman with one kid who doesn’t match. Am I purposely choosing not to have children? Did I cheat on my husband? Why don’t I have a whole row of ducklings?
Some days I want a t-shirt that says: BARREN WOMAN! But then I’d probably have to explain to a precocious four year old what “barren” means.
As an infertile adoptive mom, I can only discuss so much about our “pregnancy,” and our son’s birth. It’s not everyone’s business, I couldn’t breastfeed without risking a massive stroke (and newsflash: formula obviously didn’t hurt my child AT ALL), and while I used cloth diapers, my kid is seven. We are way past that phase.
Oh, and I love my pediatrician and pharmacist. (although, I do own a number of essential oils…)
Sometimes I just have to sit there, and listen. And ponder my own son’s milestones deep in my heart. I have no idea what’s on the market today for babies and toddlers; we’ve moved on to Legos and RC cars. And although a lot of other moms have children my son’s age, when a baby is attached to them…well, that’s where the conversation naturally drifts.
My Ugly Judgment
And here is the ugliest part of being infertile while homeschooling: my judgmental heart. Jealousy causes me to have the worst thoughts some days. I question other people’s parenting, their love for their children, and God’s love for me.
Why can so and so, who obviously hates being a mother (based on the way she consistently treats her children) pop out babies whenever she wants, and I’m 12 years into this with nothing to show for it? Why doesn’t she make her child behave? Why doesn’t she just teach her child that? Why does she let her children play with/watch/listen to that?
Ugly ugly ugly.
My heart is jealous of women who can – and have – easily built their families.
(and let’s be fair – maybe it wasn’t easy – but they have multiple children now, so…)
My heart wants me to believe that they don’t count them as blessings – that they aren’t as good at mothering as I would be if I had the four children I have always wanted.
But my heart is sick, and wicked, and full of evil. I have to turn it over to Jesus, daily, sometimes moment by moment. I have to take my thoughts – my every single, ridiculous thought – captive for Christ (2 Corinthians 10:5), and focus on what is true, lovely, pure, and good (Philippians 4:8). I can’t let my heart have free reign – I have to let Christ have reign of my life. And that is hard.
Infertility is Hard
Infertility is hard, period. It infiltrates every aspect of your life, and it pops up when you aren’t even thinking about it, when you least expect it. Being unprepared for a fellow homeschooling mama’s pregnancy announcement, or joke about taking a pregnancy text because she feels “off” can really knock you for a loop. Watching another mom have a simple bad day, and yell at her children, can cause you to alternate between thinking more highly of yourself than you ought to (Romans 12: 16) and weep with relief that His mercies are new every morning (Lamentations 3:22-23) and that you are saved by His grace.
Homeschooling is hard, period. There are tears – yours and your child’s – on a regular basis. But sometimes yours, dear infertile mama, are secretly over the sadness you feel that your child is alone, that you feel alone, that you feel lonely. Some days your tears fall because you think that if only you were better at being a mom, maybe God would bless you with more children.
Which is ridiculous. And it’s not the truth, even though you think it is.
“We are destroying speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God, and we are taking every though captive to the obedience of Christ.” (2 Corinthians 10:5).
Filter your thoughts through Christ, dear sister, and press on. God gave you your child, for a reason. You are his or her mommy, for a reason. God hand chose you. Cling to that truth, and press on doing the good, hard work of infertile motherhood.
2 thoughts on “NIAW ’17: Infertility & Homeschooling”
Your brutal honesty is touching and inspiring. I feel deep in my soul that you are helping someone else going through the same thing you are going through. I know that you are helping me even though infertility hasn’t been my struggle. I have two grown children, but my son is so very far from God. He has broken our hearts continually for the past 8+ years. I feel like I failed and someone else would have understood him better, parented him better, loved him better. We have to help each other and pray for each other. Thank you, my sister.
I am adopted and an only child. Just an FYI, I hated all the “only children are…” assumptions people made. Especially the “she’s spoiled” (I wasn’t). I was also a pastors kid, compounding my misery. I think people are sometimes jealous so they have to come up with a negative thing to say about only children.
My mom is a natural kid magnet. She taught elementary school and piano. Was a youth leader at church, etc. I always wondered why God has allowed her to be barren when other ladies weren’t great moms and had multiple kids as seemed to not enjoy them. I think one reason was so she was available to love and mother all the kids she taught in school and piano and at church (being the pastors wife). She’s 68 and to is day still has a tribe of kids she loves and cares for.
Thanks for sharing your heart about this sensitive and difficult topic.