I fell into homeschooling!
I can remember emphatically exclaiming to my husband, “THOSE people who homeschool their children must be in a cult and I want no part of it.”
That was over 25 years ago!
I am a REVERT to the faith. It was after my husband invited me to Mass shortly after we starting dating, that my life turned a full 180 degrees. We both are reverts, turns out. However, for me it was a much bigger reversion.
I grew up as an inner city kid in the boroughs of New York City.
My parents, studied Marxism with other enlightened 1970’s Brooklynites. With my parents I marched against the Vietnam War in DC and sang union songs while boycotting grapes. I also participated in the very first Earth Day with my Art teacher too! Ah NYC in the 70’s!
In the middle of all this I had made my first Holy Communion, reaching the age of reason, seven years old. As a public school kid, I went to religion classes every Wednesday afternoon, while the Catholic school kids got out of school early. Not fair, I thought back then…lucky Catholic kids, haha!
I went to Mass occasionally with my dad while my mom and siblings stayed home. This was the routine until I was about 12 years old, in the middle of sixth grade. I was preparing for my Confirmation, when my parents just stopped all things religious. No explanations, no discussions, just nothing.
Yes, they literally stopped talking about God, stopped going to Mass and stopped passing on the faith they grew up in.
BUT my grandmas on both sides never stopped.
Thank God! They kept vigil in their fervent prayers for their family! I know in the depth of my heart that those were powerful prayers that planted seeds of faith in my heart.
Woven throughout my life, people of faith would take the time to tell me they knew I had a servant’s heart and a love of the Lord. I would kindly listen and smile, but never went or sought out God.
The tug on the string God held on to me came in the form of an invitation from Larry, my husband. He asked me to go to Mass one Sunday when we began dating. It was undeniably a moment of actual grace. Come, Holy Spirit, come! It was the very beginning of my NEW Life in Christ. No doubt my guardian angel was right by my side dancing with JOY.
So by the time we had the three boys and expecting our fourth, I was HUNGRY to know, love and serve God.
I immersed myself in all things Catholic including volunteering at my son’s Kindergarten at the local parish school. I loved his first teacher who welcomed me, encouraged me and taught me as much as she did my son.
But the very next year she left the school and so did the last religious, the principal. It was late August and a new principal was hired. His progressive views of Catholicism, left Larry and I uneasy at best. I offered to volunteer as I had for my son’s Kindergarten teacher. I was dumbfounded to find the opposite reaction from the new principal and his soon to be first grade teacher. Both were all about hands-off for the parents. I was emphatically told “not to worry”, they would take care of my son, just leave him at the door! No thank you!
Once again the Holy Spirit and our Guardian Angels intervened.
We knew we had to do something different and fast. Not wanting to yank our son around to a bunch of different schools we fell into homeschooling, at least for the time being, I told myself.
Now it is 25 years later and I can clearly see that homeschooling my son for first grade was a golden opportunity! It was a gift and a choice I am forever grateful for being offered and taking. The hand of God can take us on some pretty amazing journeys.
Homeschooling my seven children was not easy by any stretch of the imagination.
I wavered many times, I dreamed of ways to escape the responsibility, I often felt like a failure and overwhelmed. BUT God sent me spiritual sisters in Christ who guided me, prayed with me and encouraged me.
I sometimes think that I am the biggest beneficiary of homeschooling. I mean from learning how to finally spell using phonics, to growing by leaps and bounds in my faith journey. It has been the best education I could ever have had!
The journey led my husband and I to found Emmanuel Books. God gave me another gift where I had the opportunity to be home with my children while using my passion for education, along with my gifts and talents in business. One that eventually brought my husband home full-time and gave jobs to not only my kids, but to many of my parishioners and friends too.
This year, after 25 years, I graduated my youngest from the Ciskanik Homeschool. Wow!!!
It is with that servant’s heart so many knew I had before I did, that propels me forward, eagerly to pass on the JOY of being a parent who is a teacher! I promise to pass on to you my very real solutions for very real families, creating, guiding and encouraging you along your own pilgrim journey!
May God bless you abundantly!!!