It felt like I was on that four-foot-high, four-inch-wide balance beam for days, when really it was only about fifty minutes..."I'll never be ready for this (gymnastics) meet," I mumbled to myself with the trepidation of a wobbly sixteen-year-old high school gymnast.
I practiced that compulsory routine—the one with the forward roll, backward roll, and round-off dismount—to get it right for our high school's team. Having never had gymnastics’ lessons, but with the undaunted enthusiasm of a determined teenage girl, I practiced those basic skills over and over again in order to qualify for the upcoming meet.
My extremities flailed in every direction as I fell off the beam one too many times. I collapsed in a heap on the soft blue mat in total despair. I guess our coach, Miss Whitaker, noticed my uncoordinated tumble, and my subsequent exit from the gym. Following me to the water fountain, she waited while I took a few gulps of cold water.
She didn't have to ask. "Well, “I tried to explain, "It's pretty discouraging falling off the beam a hundred times during a simple forward roll when Barbara (the best girl on the team) is next to me flipping back-hand-springs and aerial cartwheels without the slightest waver whatsoever!"
Miss Whitaker launched into one of her endearing peps talks. She was famous for these little chats, and somehow had the knack for making you feel better just by her presence. "It really doesn't matter what's going on with the girl right next to you," she started. "Please don't compare yourself with the other girls on the team. Now jump back up there (on the balance beam) and PRODUCE!"
Not compare myself with anyone else? Now that was going to be hard, but I was determined to take heed. When I got my eyes off of all the other (more experienced) gymnasts, and focused like a laser on the end of the beam, building my own style—things went a whole lot better.
I can't say that I didn't fall off the beam again, but at least I got through the meet, and performed to the best of my ability. The backward roll wasn't very graceful, but the dismount went well. I was happy to have met my own goals, and to have contributed to the team. And Miss Whitaker was glad about that, too.
You may be wondering how this relates to homeschooling. Well, as moms and teachers, it's easy to focus on what other homeschoolers are doing—to compare ourselves with others. And that can be a discouraging thing! We think, "She's doing Latin. I guess I should teach Latin. They're doing soccer; I guess my kids should try soccer." It's an easy trap to fall in—trying to be like someone else...
Well, at this time of year, it's easy to get weary, to be counting the days down until the end of spring when we wrap up our homeschool year. Well, I'd like to encourage you to keep going—to ignore what the other moms are doing—and to keep your eyes on your own homeschool.
Keep on! And stay faithful in teaching.