Cooking up a traditional Thanksgiving feast is always a challenge in my family because of our food sensitivities. Still, for the past several years we’ve been able to pull off a gluten-free, dairy-free, nut-free, corn-free, sugar-free, soy-free feast with most of the fixin’s…. and it actually tastes good!
This past year, we started eating grain-free. That took the Thanksgiving challenge up a notch. My 6th grader, Charis—the child with most restrictions and an avid recipe book reader—requested a diet-friendly pie. So after an excursion to Whole Foods to search for all the right ingredients, we set to baking the best paleo chocolate cream pie EVER.
Thanksgiving morning I busied myself in the kitchen. Unfortunately I had underestimated the amount of time the other dishes would take, and by the time I was ready to start the pie, it was almost mealtime and people were waiting on us. I was tempted to forego the pie, but a promise is a promise.
First we tackled the pie crust. It was easier than I had expected. Except that in my haste I forgot to add cocoa powder. Oh well, says Charis, it’s no big deal, Mommy. We move on to the pie filling. I heat up the coconut milk and prepare the gelatin while she beats the eggs. Finally I pour the maple syrup… and out trickles less than ¼ cup (the recipe called for ¾). Oops. We break out in laughter, but I am flustered by the missing ingredients, first in the crust, and now in the filling of the doomed-to-failure pie. Charis, in her characteristically gracious manner, assures me the pie will turn out just fine. We place it in the fridge to set and anxiously wait for the results.
That wasn’t the first time I was short ingredients in a baking recipe. I’m generally fine with substitutions but with baking—especially when trying something new and especially when baking for an audience—I like to get it just right, and that means following the recipe precisely. If I don’t have all the ingredients, I worry about the outcome.
The same can be applied to my parenting. In parenting, I often feel like I am lacking the right ingredients to produce the “right” results. I often look for some formula or recipe to tell me how to do it because I’m unsure of my own instincts. Homeschooling, in particular, brings out the insecurities.
About this time of the year, some of us at TCS have got this homeschooling thing under our belts and some of us are wondering if we’ll make it to May. And some of us, if not most of us, are wondering if we have what it takes—if we have the right ingredients—to homeschool.
Homeschooling is a courageous endeavor, a constant learning journey for both children and parents. We may try to look for that perfect recipe to follow, but it doesn’t exist. To think we have to abide by a particular plan is a road to frustration and burnout. This impulse is often fueled by comparison or feeling we need to prove ourselves. And while we strive, we are not able to appreciate what we are accomplishing.
I’m thankful for the guidance TCS provides. I’m also thankful that with this hybrid model there is time and flexibility to personalize my homeschooling recipe. Along the way I’m discovering some key ingredients:
Set realistic goals.
Give myself grace.
Give my children grace.
Do my best with the time and resources I have.
Believe God will supply me with what I need.
By the way, the pie turned out just fine. It was a hit, actually. I knew it was missing certain ingredients but it didn’t make for a lesser pie—it became its own thing, a Wu family creation. And Charis loved it. Just as there is more than one way to bake a pie, there is more than one way to homeschool. Ask God for wisdom. Give yourself the grace that God and your kids will readily offer when you don’t think you have what it takes. And stop comparing pies. Savor the one you’re baking.