I met Maya Angelou in New York at an event for the last book she wrote, Mom and Me and Mom, in 2012. I waited for about an hour in line to meet her and as I was waiting, I was contemplating what to say when I actually approached her. In the meantime, I watched her. There she was, about four hours into this speaking and signing event, taking her time with each person who approached her. I was admiring the ease with which she took her time with people but also feeling sad that she was attached to an oxygen machine. I’m sure it was incredibly difficult for her to expend the energy and breath on the crowd of people gathered in anticipation of their special moment with her. I was learning a lesson in patience and generosity.
When my moment came to approach her, I ended up introducing myself as a teacher. I suppose I was trying to create some quick common ground, as I believe that she is one of the great teachers of the last century. Upon my introduction of “Hi, I’m Jessica. I’m a teacher” (at the time I was teaching high school English) she responded, “We’re all teachers, Honey.” What she said after that is unclear in my mind, but that line has really stuck with me. In that moment, it made so much sense to me. Of course we are. And because of that experience, there is a certain accountability I took with me from that conversation and applied to the way I communicate my life.
Homeschool. This is a concept that I feel so deeply and am so painfully, profoundly and honorably aware of. My life is being my daughter and my son’s teacher, along with others like my husband, the church, the community, the people we allow her to be surrounded by in her youth and the experiences in which she engages. This is a high calling and an amazing responsibility.
And so we approach “homeschool” with the understanding that it is all a learning experience and has been since her moment of conception – everything I’ve done and everything I am has in turn affected my daughter.
I told my daughter that our “school” time together will be dedicated to learning all of the “cool stuff in life.” In my mind, this consists of revealing her amazing value and worth as a child of God, in appreciating and experiencing the great gifts that God gives us in provision: food, home, clothing, and in the beauty of nature and understanding the processes of the natural world. It also consists of interacting with other people: to know others and to be known by others. It includes living with our whole beings, expressing our ideas and creativity, and really worshiping and appreciating God’s world with our whole selves.
Learning is exploring and relating to life in a deliberate, purposeful way and I can’t wait to grow in this process with my daughter. After all, she is also a teacher.
Jessica Wrasman is a right-brained romantic who likes gaudy-gold framed art, textures, gourmet food, bodies of water, a thought-provoking book and a glass of red wine. An ex-misanthrope, recovering people-pleaser, and former educator and editor, Jess now spends her days keeping two kiddos healthy and happy with lots of nose wiping and occasional book reading in between. Jessica and Jean Barnes, author of Purposeful Parenting (2015), are currently co-writing the book “Authentic; Becoming Who You Were Created to Be” and are co-collaborators on the new site authenticfamily.org.