Are we under-achievers? If so, I guess I’m really happy with it.

As I’m reading about colleges and scholarships, I’m struck by how stellar other people’s children are! It seems just about “everyone’s” children feed the hungry on Monday, give advice to NASA on Tuesday, swim in the Olympic trials on Wednesday (but only if it doesn’t compete with church, where they teach 4 classes and sign interpretively for the pastor!), contribute as a guest columnist for the city paper on Thursday, and perform off-Broadway on Fridays. All that, of course, is only after all of their school work is done by 10am, including the “extra” college courses they are taking and the scale model of ancient Cairo they built out of all organic materials, just for fun. Now…let’s talk about the weekends!


Maybe this isn’t funny to you if you’re not a homeschooler… although, come to think of it, I guess it could just as easily apply to very motivated regular-schoolers.

It was written by a mom on a homeschooling forum I sporadically visit.  The topic was actually about prep for college, or at least, life after school, if one’s child isn’t a SuperHomeschooler who will likely get tons of academic scholarships.  (I’d post the link here, but it’s a private forum.)

That particular subject isn’t one that I’m highly concerned with, at this point, but what she describes has made me roll my eyes (and shy from homeschooling groups) on many an occasion.  We have some things in which we’re involved, but for the most part, we just spend our time, uh, learning and being a family.  We’re not super-achievers, we don’t even try to keep up with the Joneses, let alone best them. 

Our neighbors across the street are way-super-mega high energy high achievers, yet manage to do it without that stinky whiff of better-than-thou-ness that so often accompanies that sort of folk.  So, I know that it is possible to be extremely active and involved, travelling the world, collecting accolades, and marrying doctors whilst keeping your head straight on your shoulders… but most of the families I have met like the ones described in the above quote are ones that I’d really rather not spend any of my time with.  I’m not sure why that is.  I guess I just don’t relate with the drive required for, and the motivation behind, that which produces such stellar results.

193f06d5.jpg picture by Karen-Joy193f06d5.jpg picture by Karen-JoyI guess, now that I think about it, for me, it’s the same reasoning behind why I don’t get a job.  Too many women who work do so to support a nice wardrobe, a new car, pricey furniture, and a pool in the backyard.  Now, I’d like all those things, I must admit.  But, I’m not so motivated to have them that I’ll leave my kids 40+ hours a week to get them.  I’ll keep my clearance-rack clothes, 8yo vehicle, couches from Craigslist, and a Slip’N’Slide.  Know what I mean?  Some things — to me — just aren’t worth the loss of an intimate family life:  playing catch in the (poolless) backyard, flying kites at the park, homecooked dinners, and events like tonight, where the three boys (and Daddy) sat around our family room coffee table, sharing colored pencils, excitedly planning their vision of what our family’s gingerbread house will look like.

Those aren’t the sort of “extracurricular activities” that can fill a scholarship application, but it makes the years at home rich.

 193f06d5.jpg picture by Karen-Joy193f06d5.jpg picture by Karen-Joy       


About Karen Joy

I'm a partially-homeschooling mother of six -- 3 boys ages 19, 17 and 15 years old, and three girls: 11, 8, and 3. I like birding, reading, writing, organic gardening, singing, playing guitar, hiking, the outdoors, and books. I very casually lead a very large group of homeschooling families in the Phoenix area. I have a dear hubby who designs homes for a local home builder and who is the worship pastor of our church. I live in the desert, which I used to hate, but now appreciate.

Posted on November 30, 2007, in Funny Stuff, Homeschooling, Introspective Musings, Motherhood, The Dear Hubby, The Kids. Bookmark the permalink. 6 Comments.

  1. I think one issue that burns me more than any other (in reference to our own kids) is that we must appear as under-achievers too. Our two oldest, who have graduated high school, are holding down full-time, managerial-type jobs, but didn’t go to college. And one of our sons is wanting to join the Marines after graduation, but because he’s not going in for college ROTC, then his dream is pooh-poohed by a particular family member.

    Sometimes you just can’t win. Shoot, I’d hold our children up against any other kids and on terms of behavior, manners and basic relationship skills, mine would win. As far as learning, we do darn good. But in the world’s eyes, we must just look sorry.

    Fortunately I’m looking a bit higher up for approval. 🙂 Thank the Lord that I know He’s pleased.

    Great post and photo, btw!

  2. a good read. I wish I’d had the sense to approach “things” this way a long time ago. I was too smart to listen to the wisdom of others, so I’ve had to find out for myself that “a nice wardrobe, a new car, pricey furniture, and a pool in the backyard”, while nice, don’t satisfy for long, usually, not even as long as the term on the loan you often need to buy them.

  3. This reminded my so much of an advice column I read in our paper this week. I don’t normally read them, but the parent was worried about her son’s pronunciation of the word “blue.” I was drawn in wondering what kind of nutty parents worried about that in a 21 month old.

    He answered perfectly. “I am not in the least worried about your son. I am, however, worried about you.”

    It seems to affect a lot of parents, and it doesn’t seem to get any better as the children get older.

    I’ve often wondered if it has to do with so many families having only children. I was more like that back then!

  4. True. Of course, mine couldn’t even go up against anyone’s manners test either so I guess we’re true underachievers. Most of the time I feel I’m homeschooling like that mom you mention in your next article.

  5. just had a few moments to read some previous posts….i actually just posted today on my closet unschooling habits. Most people (homeschoolers or not) would laugh at our (non) schedule. We have 2 things every week on the calendar….the rest is up for grabs. And since i have started ‘tracking’ all we do informally w/ a #2 in my planner (that I dug out of the basement) I’m surprised how much we DO do!!! And that is all w/o trying because we don’t DO anything! kwim??!!

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