by Todd Wilson
Keynote Speaker, 34th Annual CHEA Convention, July 13-15, 2017
I love the open road. In fact, I think inside every man is a truck driver wanting out. I especially like sitting behind the wheel of our big Familyman Mobile on a cool summer evening (my kids know it’s my favorite time to drive). There’s just so much to see as you criss-cross this great country of ours.
Now I’m not just talking about wonderful destinations like Gettysburg, Valley Forge, or Gravity Hill. I like the actual highway sites . . . the old, rusty Pacer that still runs the road, the variety plate that proclaims GR8DAD, and all those wonderful bumper stickers that give you a glimpse into each car owner’s life.
Actually, I just saw one while tooling through Chicago a couple of days ago that not only caught my eye, but also struck a nerve in the deep dad-recesses of my mind. The bumper sticker was just three words on a plain background, but it spoke volumes: Deer Hunter’s Widow.
At first I wasn’t quite sure what it meant, but then I realized that a longer version would be, “My husband is gone so much during deer hunting season that it feels like I’m all alone in our marriage.”
I’m sure the person bought it as a joke, but I felt myself getting mad as I stared at the tail end of that car. In fact, I had half a mind to follow the car to its home and chew out the guy for abandoning his family in favor of sitting out in the woods with bunch of buddies and white-tailed deer.
As the car pulled away, I began thinking of similar bumper stickers that might have a market.
Football Fan’s Widow
Internet User’s Widow
TV Watcher’s Widow
I was on a roll and intended to write an email to my dad friends regarding my thoughts when I thought of one more . . .Homeschooler’s Widower.
The disconcerting truth is that homeschooling can be such an all-consuming activity that husbands get left alone to fend for themselves. Oh, the homeschooling mom may make time to feed, clean, and care for the basic needs of her husband . . . but she’s not really there.
Her thoughts are always on school, lessons, achievements, and failures. They may share an occasional moment of intimacy but her mind is simultaneously thinking, “If I drop off Tiffany at piano at 3:30 p.m., I can probably get back home in time to finish up a science experiment with Josh and read Michael the last chapter of his book.”
She may think she’s doing a great job balancing all her duties . . . but her husband might feel like a widower, last on the list of her priorities.
Last on Your List?
To bring this a little closer to home, ask yourself if your husband feels like a homeschool widower? Some of the symptoms are: half-joking remarks he makes about how you’re always thinking about homeschooling or the kids, a lack of commitment to his family, or even resentment toward homeschooling itself.
Men feel and say these things because they feel like they have lost their spouses to homeschooling. Now I know you might be thinking he needs to get over it because homeschooling does take a lot of time (read—all your time). After all, you can’t just throw an education together. It takes planning, time, and effort, and you just don’t have enough time to meet all his needs. He just needs to grow up and deal with it.
If you’re thinking something like that, let me remind you that God called you to love your husband (Titus 2:4), not your homeschool. I can run down through a mental list of several moms who loved their homeschools to the neglect of their marriages, and when that happens, homeschooling doesn’t seem quite so important anymore.
But here’s the good news: It’s easy to lift the lid from the homeschool coffin and climb back out of the grave. Your husband doesn’t need all your time and energies . . . he just needs to feel like he’s your number one priority.
Here’s what I suggest: Start today. Draw school to a close a little earlier, fix his favorite meal, have the kids help clean up before Dad gets home, put on one of his favorite outfits, give him a steel-melting kiss when he walks in the door, and linger in his arms.
After dinner, forget about grading papers and planning lessons, and instead give your man some of your undivided attention. Ask about his day, snuggle up in his arms, watch a movie together, or dish him up a big bowl of ice cream.
I’m telling you, it doesn’t take that much to move a husband out of the homeschooling widower category into the madly in love with his wife and family category. He just needs you to make him a priority, to care more about him than you do about your curriculum, your progress, the latest gadget available on the Internet, and . . . school.
If you do that, then he won’t need a Homeschool Widower bumper sticker . . . he’ll get one that says, “My Wife Homeschools and She’s My Hero.”
This article was used by permission of Todd Wilson in our July/August 2013 California Parent Educator magazine.
Todd Wilson, author of Lies Homeschooling Moms Believe, Help! I’m Married to a Homeschooling Mom, and The Official Book of Homeschooling Cartoons, is a dad, writer, conference speaker, and former pastor. As founder of Familyman Ministries (www.familymanweb.com), Todd’s passion and mission are to remind dads and moms of what’s most important through The Familyman Weekly, seminars, and books. Todd and his wife, Debbie, homeschool their eight children in northern Indiana.