Mentoring: One mom’s cry … Another mom’s answer
Rather than define mentoring with a slick dictionary definition, I would like to show a snippet of mentoring from one homeschooling mom to another mom1
First Mom: “I already have my hands full with four kiddos. Can I really do this2 with a baby? Am I biting off more than I can chew? Feeling overwhelmed and need to know how moms who have been in my shoes have done it … ”
Second Mom: “Yes. You can absolutely do this. I have been using this for ten years … and started with five kiddos under ten years old. First word of advice (which I hated when I first heard it) is relax and be flexible … our literature was done on the couch with all the kids. I would be feeding the baby while reading, and holding the other two at my sides, while older kiddos sat very near me … we did not do major hands-on stuff every day … my oldest helped my youngest with projects. As they grew older, I always worked with the youngest first on the 3R’s … I did one big house chore a day and my house never looked like a museum, but was usually 15 minutes from being company ready … Because my husband is military, we moved every few years … I have had to endure times of separation from my husband, so I was like a single mom, but I was still successful [with this curriculum]3 … . Our oldest just took his pre-test for the Coast Guard and scored exceptionally well in most areas. I am a regular mom with no formal training, am not super organized … but my kids are living proof that God is good and His ways are sure … ”
Connection through Understanding
What did you hear that is worthy of emulating as a mentor?
I heard two wise women interact who both obviously weigh carefully how they teach their children. I heard First Mom cry out a real question asking for input. Then I heard Second Mom answer that cry with, (and I am summarizing my own reading-between-the-lines and tone) “I have been where you are. I understand and feel your concerns and doubts. They are real. I had them too. But I am going to tell you what I chose to do and how it worked for me. Then you can combine my experience and my answer to your question and make your own decision.” The first mother was wise, because she asked for input from women who had been down the road before her. The second woman was wise, because she had down-the-road experience.
However, she became a mentor because she had a heart that was willing to share with those she was slightly ahead of on the journey.
These two mothers connected, not simply because of the second mother’s past experience, or even because of her heart to share. The connection began when the mentoring mother communicated that she understood because she had “five kiddos under ten years old.”
Encouragement through Specific Tips
The first mother asked, “Can I do this?” To which, the mentoring mom answered, “Yes, you can.” That is certainly a vote for the positive, but the true encouragement came through the specific tips and examples that followed. The cry was not for a poll vote of yes or no. The questioning mom asked specifically, “I need to know how moms who have been in my shoes have done it.”
The mentoring mother begins, “First word of advice (which I hated when I first heard it) is to relax and be flexible.” She even described how she multi-tasked while reading to her children, feeding her baby, as well as feeding the security of her other children as she kept them close to her. She follows that with numerous other tips of how she personally made it work, “we did not do major hands-on stuff every day … my oldest helped my youngest with projects. As they grew older, I always worked with the youngest first on the 3R’s … I did one big house chore a day and my house never looked like a museum, but was usually 15 minutes from being company ready.” These tips were the encouragement to the questioning mother who had asked not only “can I”, but, “how can I” do this. The mentoring mom was painting a word picture for the questioning mom: “This is how I did it, and so can you.”
Challenges, Success, and Giving Glory
The mentoring mom shares about her own struggle to keep the house clean, and the challenges she faces with her husband in the military (moving every few years and even being separated from her husband), which caused her to feel like a single mother at times. When she shared that struggle, it was not an attempt to create an intimidating superwoman image for herself. She states things so matter-of-factly, one feels a humble certainty which immediately imparts confidence.
She goes on to share family successes, “Our oldest just took his pre-test for the Coast Guard and scored exceptionally well in most areas. I am a regular mom with no formal training, am not super organized … but my kids are living proof that God is good and His ways are sure.” Confidence, not intimidation, was what the questioning mom was looking for. She was looking for a regular mom like herself—not superwoman. She found both.
In this exchange, we hear how the mentoring mom connects to the questioning mom with understanding. By relating her own similar story, she encourages with specific how-to tips, she remains real and human by sharing her challenges and successes, and finally, she gives God—not a curriculum or her own teaching—the Glory for how her kids have turned out.
You have just witnessed true mentoring in progress. I pray you are moved to emulate true mentoring.
Editor’s Note: For specific mentoring help for KONOS Curriculum, visit http://homeschoolmentor.com/
Jessica Hulcy, co-author of KONOS Curriculum, the first curriculum written for homeschool, is an educator, author, and formerly popular national homeschool speaker prior to her near-fatal wreck in 2009. A graduate of the University of Texas, mom to four grown sons, and “Grandear” to grandchildren, Jessica lives with her husband Wade on acreage in Texas. Recently Jessica and Wade started the ultimate online help for homeschooling moms called Homeschool Mentor. Visit www.homeschoolmentor.com and www.konos.com.
Copyright, 2015. Used with permission. All rights reserved by author. Originally appeared in The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, the family education magazine, Fall 2015. Read the magazine free at www.TOSMagazine.com or read it on the go and download the free apps at www.TOSApps.com to read the magazine on your mobile devices.