If you were a homeschool mom in the late 90s and into the 2000s like me, you may have been confronted with your feelings of complete inadequacy. That confrontation came, not from an enemy outside but from friends within. Other moms. Other women.
Gentle-voiced, denim-jumpered, quiverfull, bread-making, goat-milking, no-TV-watching, husband-obeying women who befriended you but made it abundantly clear that you were always welcome in their church and home but you were not the same as them.
If you spanked your child with something called "the wisdom maker", this blog post is for you.
If you watched the Duggar family on TV and envied their giant van, feathered bangs or the early marriages of their children to other quiver fullers , this blog post is for you.
And if you PRETENDED to be on board with all of the above but, deep inside, had that nagging feeling that you were standing, tosies on the line, of a full-blown cult, this blog post is about you. And me.
I will admit, so much of this quiver full culture was attractive to me, as a mother. Kids are kept close to home, protected from outside influences of the crummy world. Boys are taught to protect, provide and lead their future families. Girls are taught to nurture, be excellent mothers and help mates to their future husbands. Those are not bad things. They are Biblical.
I firmly believe the Bible lays out a beautiful guide for what a family should look like and how each partner, in complementarian roles, can support the other.
BUT . . .
in practice, the brass tacks of living out a Biblical family life are not spelled out specifically.
Who decided "modesty" means homemade dresses and bathing suits that cover your daughter neck to knees?
Which Bible verse mandates unlimited children and touts use of birth control as not "trusting God with your family size"?
Where, in the whole counsel of God, does it say my son needs to wear khaki's, a polo style shirt and part his hair on one side? I am being facetious but if you have ever attended a homeschool conference, you get what I'm saying here.
THIS WAS BONDAGE TO ME as a homeschooling mother. And unappealing. I did not want to be like them but I felt so worldly and unspiritual around them. I wrestled with whether that was conviction over my own selfish, sinful way of living or whether they were simply extremists and legalists who put themselves and their family under some new form of law created by the likes of the "Above Rubies" magazine crowd.
And, thanks be to God, as time went on and my children grew and developed and became true individuals. I would like to say that the "quiver full" formula ensures all children will walk with Jesus every day of their lives. But I am on the other side of some of these years. I have adult children and minor ones. Many of the families we homeschooled alongside are mourning their children's life choices. Everything from gender identity confusion to full blown atheism and shades in between.
Add to that the never-ending scandal coming from the Duggar family in regard to their oldest son, Josh and his choice to be unfaithful to his wife in many ways, both online and in real life and you have a preponderance of evidence that none of us parents has done it perfectly and the only hope that our children will follow Jesus all the days of their lives comes from Him and Him alone.
If you "Grew Kids God's Way", and "Trained Them Up" and were "Babywise" at the same time and yet are grieving for children who are far from the Lord, you are not alone.
If your children are older now and have told you how your parenting ruined their lives, made them feel trapped or robbed them of their voices and choices, you are also not alone.
Grace. Fall of God's grace. Ask your children for forgiveness. Pray. Lay down the defensiveness of the past and realize that we all just did what we truly thought was best. But maybe it wasn't best. Maybe it wasn't even good, or Biblical or helpful. Maybe it was destructive and competitive and that nagging feeling while you were doing it was the Holy Spirit telling you you shouldn't be doing it but you quenched Him until His voice, muffled by your pride, no longer registered.
So, maybe we messed up. No, we DID mess up.
To my beautiful babies. I'm sorry. I pray you see the intent of the heart and that you forgive me.
In my desire for you to be unstained by the world, safe, close to Jesus, I lost my dang mind a little.
I am just so sorry. So. Very. Sorry.
I love you.