I’ve lost count. That is, I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve been asked the question that suggests I wear a “teacher” hat that has to be removed before I can wear the “mom” hat.
“How do you do it?” they ask.
“When are you teacher and when are you, mom?”
“How do you juggle being mom and teacher?”
“Do you have a time when you stop being teacher and you’re just mom? Do you speak differently to the kids when you’re in teacher-mode?”
I’ve often wondered what bothered me about that line of questioning. Until I realized that the question’s presumption is wrong.
There is the assumption that the homeschooling mom is similar to that of the classroom schooling mom. The one who has to shift her demeanor and expectations to fit the classroom setting. She’s no longer mom to her kids. She’s the teacher and facilitator of learning for a class full of kids who are not her own.
In the home environment, it all looks completely different.
The truth is that all moms wear dozens of hats. Well, even that is not strictly true. We all wear the Mom Hat. But our hat, if you look closely enough, says “Mom+” because at any given moment we are:
Seldom does a mom get asked, “what’s it like being mom and taxi-driver? Do you find yourself speaking differently to your kids? Is there a time when you switch off from taxi-driver mode to just being mom?”
A mom who is affixing a band-aid to her child’s knee is being a mom who happens to be nursing her child in that moment, too. She’s the cook when she’s preparing a meal for the family. She’s a teacher when she shows her 4-year-old son how to tie his shoelace or her 10-year-old daughter how to write a paragraph with a topic sentence. But, she’s always still mom.
Moms will teach, love, nurse, care for, and do a dozen other things that could have a professional label attached to it. And, when it’s out of her depth, or her child’s depth, she will seek more professional advice. She will refer to the math experts if her son is struggling to understand algebra and she’s run out of tools to teach him. Just as she will head to the doctor if the fever hasn’t responded to time and home medication.
So, what makes a homeschooling mom any different to a mom whose child is learning in a classroom?
We are still mom. We just happen to spend a few more hours each day with our kids. We have a few more teaching opportunities. In many cases, we get to enjoy their learning progress alongside them. We probably do a bit more of the mom+chef and the mom+nurse thing, too. In fact, there’s a good chance we do a a bit more of each of the “Mom+” labels. But overall, we’re getting on with the business of being a mom.
So, nowawadays, when people ask me, “How do you juggle being mom and teacher?” I shrug and say, “I don’t. Because, I’m just…