An Open Letter to My Homeschooling Mom

Dear Mom,

I was an obstinate student. I gave you a lot of grief over just about everything. I cried over math. I resisted history, science, literature—pretty much everything related to school. All I wanted to do was play, draw, and read books that I picked out from the library. Somewhere along the way, I got it in my head that if it were a “school” book, then it would be boring.

This wasn’t true—I wasn’t actually bored every time you read from a history book. I had a hard time remembering the details and dates, so I assumed I was bad at history. Therefore, it was boring.

I didn’t like feeling stupid, and I was (and still am!) an impatient learner. If I didn’t understand something right away, I felt stupid. That’s why I resisted history. That’s why I struggled with math. I didn’t understand that learning was a process, not an instant understanding.

When it came to my intellect, I was a late bloomer. When I got to college, my brain opened in ways I couldn’t have imagined as a child. Through study, I absorbed languages, literature, and history. I even tackled pre-calculus and discovered that I wasn’t naturally bad at it. In fact, I was actually kind of good.

I know. I know. You tried to tell me all of this. You told it to me over and over and over. I just didn’t listen. I was impatient. I wanted to understand everything immediately. I wanted everything to be easy for me, like drawing was. I was talented at so many things, I just figured that if I wasn’t talented at it, I was bad at it.

Since we homeschooled, I got to spend so much time indulging my talents. I spent hours playing imaginatively, drawing, writing my own stories. I had so much free time that I wouldn’t have had otherwise. That time was good for me. It formed me, and it helped me grow into who I am today.

You forced me to get my work done, but you didn’t force me to spend hours and hours and hours slaving over schoolwork during high school. I don’t know if you stressed over that, but it was the right thing to do. I learned what I needed, but I wasn’t burned out when I arrived at college. I knew other freshman who had, technically, worked much harder than I did during high school on their studies. Yet, there we were at the same school, taking the same classes. I was as prepared as they were. I realized that I didn’t know MLA rules as well as I needed to, but I wasn’t afraid to teach myself. It took less than a week to fill in this hole—I read the MLA handbook and talked with a couple of friends. After that, my MLA was solid. Later in college, I taught myself Chicago Style. I was used to teaching myself things.

In college, I met students who were already bored with school. They were done. Burned out. Ready to be finished… but I wasn’t. I came alive freshman year and discovered talents I didn’t know I had. I learned more about my brain in one semester than I possibly could’ve imagined. I was fresh. Energized. Excited. The burn-out did eventually come. It started during junior year, which was probably the hardest year in my major, and by the time graduation came, I was ready for a break.

But, thanks to homeschooling, I didn’t show up that way on Day One. You helped me with that, Mom. You gave me the tools I needed to succeed, but you didn’t push me too far. You let me spend more hours doing theater and writing than actually “doing school.” I learned about building props, sewing costumes, and writing dialogue when other kids were cramming for AP exams. I spent my evenings hanging out with my family or reading Harry Potter instead of stressing over homework. You didn’t let me slack off, but you let me thrive.

The effects of your homeschooling continue to this day. I’m still impatient, but I know how to teach myself. I also know that I can study and overcome harder tasks. Moreover, I’m confident that I can learn to do just about anything (within reason).

I’m used to being solitary and don’t need to be surrounded by my peers to be happy. I have friends and enjoy people’s company, yeah… but I can get my work done at home without feeling like I’m missing out on something.

You taught me all of this—maybe not with words, but with the life you gave me as a child. I know I complained a lot. I complained about school, about not seeing my friends every day, about… everything.

Thanks for putting up with it.

Thanks for homeschooling me.

~ Lee


Lee McMillion was homeschooled kindergarten through 12th grade and graduated from Baylor University in 2011. Now a homeschooling parent of three awesome kiddos, she enjoys coffee and biscotti, playing video games, writing fantasy stories, drawing comics, and walking her dog in the blustery Oklahoma wind. See Lee tweet about life, family, and homeschooling @2ndGenHschool and check out her comics and insights into homeschooling at Second Gen Homeschooler.