Unexpected Benefits

I've discovered an unexpected benefit of homeschooling. When we started, we did this for our children. We thought about what they needed personally as well as educationally. We thought about our family and what it would mean for my husband, myself, and our children.

Recent events have kept me from posting here as much as I'd planned, but they have also been a blessing in disguise. My father-in-law is a former smoker. He smoked for decades, and it took its toll. He was diagnosed with lung cancer in 2016. He's now had two surgeries and radiation within the last 11 months. And believe it or not, that is where we discovered this blessing.

We think of ourselves and our immediate surroundings when making the decision to homeschool. But it affects others as well. Both of "Granddad's" surgeries were to remove a lobe of a lung. A lobe on the left side was removed in 2016 and a lobe on the right side was removed this past spring.

When Granddad had his first surgery, my boys and I were able to take school to the hospital with us. I was able to be there to advocate for him and to help take care of my mother-in-law while he was in the hospital. The boys were able to encourage and motivate him to push forward through the pain and discomfort.

The second surgery was different. This time, the surgery was done in our hometown and we were also able to have my in-laws stay with us for several weeks to assist in Granddad's recovery. It was hard for everyone, but we did it. Eight appointments per week with home healthcare, physically therapy, occupational therapy, and nursing visits. Continuing therapy exercises six times per day at home.

Praise God Granddad is doing so well now! But I could not have been the advocate for him in the hospital or the cheerleader and coach for him during therapy if we had not made the decision years ago to homeschool. I would not have been able to spend four weeks caring for my in-laws, and they were not capable of doing it all alone. But because of the blessing of homeschool, my boys still did their schoolwork, I continued to work from home, and we were there for Granddad. And our relationships with Granddad grew immensely.

As those weeks pressed on and my stress built up, I looked forward for the day when my in-laws would return home and life would get back to normal. But that didn't happen. When they returned home, I felt a loss. I'd become used to having them around and so had my boys. I also felt a bit more responsible for them than I ever had before. I worried about them and checked in with them daily. Granddad checks in a lot more on us now, too.

The most telling moment for me, the biggest blessing, came from my older son. On the day that my in-laws returned home, we realized that there was no way they could get home alone. After nearly a month with us, they had acquired more "stuff" including a walker, a bath chair, and several other pieces of assistive equipment. My husband and I decided on the spur of the moment that I should take my car, too, and follow them home, help them unload the car, check their house for safety issues, and set up the new equipment.

That night, my older son blessed my heart. He told me he thought it was "really cool" that I did so much for Mimi and Granddad. I simply smiled and reminded him that he might have to do the same for me one day. Then I kissed him good night and left his room.

In retrospect, I did what I thought was right. Homeschooling. Advocating. Cheerleading. Coaching. But I unknowingly modeled our Christian faith to my son. I showed him how to care for someone else simply because they needed it even when it would be hard and there was no clear reward for me. And he said it was "cool." What a blessing!


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