my identity as a home educator

“So what do you really do?”

How often I was asked that question in the first decade of my full-time parenting role. Four kiddos born within eleven years…I had a few things to do. So I was surprised anyone was asking what I really did. Like this parenting gig was a figment of my imagination.

“You’re a homemaker?” she asked.

“No, home educator.”

“Then homemaker?” the bank clerk persisted.

“No…home educator…” Seven years in, I know how to respond to the onslaught of confused questions about this lifestyle and when to be firm.

In a lawyer’s appointment, I was asked to declare my profession for will preparation.

‘Home educator’, I answered nonchalantly.

“Housewife, then”. It’s a theme. If it starts with home, it must end with wife.

What would one expect me to say?

The majority of my time is spent, well, educating my children. I don’t have a pension, no unionized benefits, can’t call in sick days (though I really should take PMS days). So you can’t call me a professional educator. I spend so much of my time home educating that I surely can self-label as a full-time home educator.

Do I have a role in society only because there’s a Human Resources with my name and SIN number registered?

In a day and age where common culture dictates that successful women must work outside the home, must attempt the work-home balance, very little affirmation floods the parent-at-home world. What do you really do? Or what did you used to do? Or what were you trained to do? the question is asked, as though what she’s presently doing isn’t as much value as what she could be doing if she were earning a pretty buck or seeing her name in lights.

Are there magazine headlines helping homeschool moms, or even moms at home, balance their child’s needs with their own?

How to have a house tidy in ten minutes, teach the five year old to read, explain the marriage of fractions and conjugate etre while thinking your own thoughts for ten minutes consecutively… peeing independently…lazing on the beach with your personal margarita under a massage cabana.

Okay, I’ve slipped into a fantasy world. No front page headlines for homeschooling mamas trying to balance their mental worlds.

I can compare myself to the apparently expected norm that is modern day full-time working mom  and see why they see me left wanting. I can even do this with my husband. I hear the cardioversion stories, the deliveries, the ‘what he did today’, anonymous case study discussions, and internal medicine follow-up. You could call it a spousal medical residency. And I find it all very interesting, enriching my life.

One day, he sent me a pic:


They were prepping for North American Ebola transmission. Kinda hard not to see why the culture values these people.

I, on the other hand, hanging with the kids, reviewing spelling phonograms, reading level one readers, maybe multiplying fractions, definitely changing the laundry load twice, checking math books while making lunch, and probably rushing everyone out the door to piano lessons.

I have an onslaught of external pressure and occasional self-questioning to fuel my flames. But I always go back to the question, how finite do I think my life is? And what would I want to do if I knew it would end?

Exactly what I’m doing. So if they want to know what I really do. I’ll just have to keep my response on repeat: Home Educator.