Sitting on a Mother's Heart: Education


There’s a shelf that sits just below my heart. It’s a resting place for desires big and small. Things this heart yearns for, but hasn’t found the perfect crevasse to house just yet. It’s often a dusty shelf. This discerning heart knows no time.

Taking up the majority of discerning real estate on my heart’s shelf this past year has been the subject of the education of our children. Our eldest recently turned 4, and a decision will have to be made soon. Not a permanent one, but a decision nonetheless.

The subject of education is a tough one. I’m the definition of an untraditional learner. An “independent scholar” as I have been called. Traditional school, for me, was deadening. I beat a truancy court call by the hair of my chiny chin chin by turning 18.  Much to the dismay of my parents I couldn’t wrap my head around BELLS telling me I had to be a certain place for a certain amount of time every day and then file into a hallway between said bells to be moved like cattle. I wasn’t defiant. I just didn’t get it, and it wasn’t the best way to educate me.

My husband is the textbook perfect student. He has a photographic memory and for many years found his worth in following rules. A life-long straight A student, he feels he earned grades and degrees, not an education. He now makes a living as an English professor.

So, what to do about the education of our children has been the topic of many discussions and prayers. It’s a blessing that as a couple we are on the same page – and unfortunate that we don’t know what page that is. Through prayer, we found ourselves asking these questions:

What is our ultimate goal for these children?

How are we being called to lead them?

What potential roadblocks to this goal are presented in each educational option?

What are our fears?

That last one is what is blinding me. Fear. We’re not one for “camps.” We’re kind of black sheep type folks. My fear is that schooling choices have the potential to bring with them “camps.” You become a home school, public school or Catholic school family.

We’re still praying. Some days it feels like all of the prayers, discussions and discernment has only led to more confusion. For now we have decided to stop praying about schooling and just pray for God’s will and the courage to recognize it and the trust to carry it out.

The schooling of our children is an important choice, but it isn’t a moral one, or a permanent one. The “right” answer may change. I’ll just save the corner of the shelf below my heart for education to sit from time to time. It’s the big things in life we don’t file away one time forever. They are what our heart swells with in our daily prayers.

“Let the children come to me; do not prevent them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. Amen, I say to you, whoever does not accept the kingdom of God like a child will not enter it.”  Mark 10:14b-15

Copyright 2011 Holly Rutchik 



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  1. God bless your family with the decisions you must make. My children have all (five of them) gone to our parishes Catholic Grammar School. While not perfect I have never regretted once the choice to send them there. While it is a huge financial commitment and sacrifice, for us it’s been well worth it. Our Diocese provides financial aid as well as the St. Thomas More Scholarship available at our school. Don’t discount it because of cost. The cost is relative to the reward!

  2. Holly, I LOVE how you say that the choice of education for your children isn’t a moral one or a permanent one. That’s so key! I think those are the two biggest pitfalls we Catholic moms (and dads) fall into in making this decision. It’s different for every family and every child. It’s a year to year decision that changes from child to child. Or at least that’s what we’ve learned so far!

  3. This is such a great post! We started our oldest off in our Parish school. We learned very quickly that not only was it not in our financial picture, but they couldn’t offer her what she needed in terms of gifted and talented programs. This year she is in public school and is thriving! I hope to bring her home to homeschool at some point, and homeschool our others as well, but right now the depression I battle off and on prevents me from feeling like I could homeschool effectively. But like you said, these decisions are not permanent. And you might choose different paths for different children. All of that is OK. It’s wonderful to have so many options available to us!

  4. Holly, I just came across your post and it “hit home” with me. My husband and I just put our two children back into the parish school after homeschooling them for several months. Although I am so grateful for the time that I had to school them, we both realized that it was not the best decision for our family at this time. I truly appreciate Cathi D’s comment that her parish school is not perfect (and neither is homeschooling) but it was worked for her family. I feel truly blessed because I can bring into my child’s school the talents that God has given me and introduce the school to things and ideas about our Faith that maybe the teachers and administrators just didnt’ have time to do or weren’t aware of. I also, too, love your comment that schooling choice is not a moral one. We as Catholics have to be SO careful that we don’t develop an “us against them attitude” (public/Catholic school vs. homeschooling) which I have seen too much of among some of my homeschooling friends. We are many families within one family and we must be careful to respect the decision of others. We have no idea what goes on behind the doors of a home. First and foremost, public/Catholic/homeschooling make sure that your HEART is a home where Jesus dwells. My parents are gone now for several years and I don’t look back and reflect on my teachers, co-workers, bosses, etc, but on my homelife and my parents–that is where the child will always draw from. God bless.

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