family life

I don’t “have to”

One day last week, we were doing a little shopping at Walmart. While Lindsey was looking for some new jeans, a girl randomly walked up and started talking to us. For some reason, people just do that to us on a pretty regular basis. Our friendly faces, perhaps? But I digress…

Anyway, Lindsey went to try on the jeans, and Kathryn and I tried to politely extricate ourselves from the conversation with the girl. As we were walking away, the girl, who told us she is eleven years old asked Kathryn, “Where do you go to school?”

“We homeschool.”

“Oh, wow. I really feel sorry for you…”

And here is the part where I, as a homeschool mom, brace for whatever Kathryn is about to be told. I expect the girl to continue with something along the lines of “because you don’t have friends to play with” or “because you’re at home all day” or any number of other things that usually aren’t true but still make me cringe.

However, what the girl said utterly shocked me.

She said, “I feel sorry for you having to be home with them all the time.”  I realized she was no longer talking to Kathryn, but to me. This child was telling me that she felt sorry for me because I “have to” be with my kids. All I could think was what has this child heard or been told to make her think that this would be such a miserable thing to “have to” do?

I didn’t answer as eloquently as I’d have liked because I was so taken aback, but I said something like, “No, it’s wonderful. I LIKE being with my kids.

As this child’s statement continues to float around in my brain, I wonder again at the society we live in, where children in general are looked at as more of a burden than a blessing. More of a liability than a gift. Even this young girl believes it to be so. That breaks my heart.

I don’t “have to” be with my children; I choose to. I want them to know and understand that God has a plan and purpose for their lives, and that even when I am completely frustrated with them, my children are a gift.

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Sheila Gregoire

Oh, Jamie, how sad! I am one of those people who is always being spoken to by random stranger children, too, and I find the whole thing so sad. They have no boundaries because they often haven’t received real love at home. And that comment is just, unfortunately, to be expected. Still sad, though, isn’t it?

Maria Stahl

Is… that… really the point of the blog post, that Jamie doesn’t like being spoken to by “random stranger children”? That’s not what I got out of it at all, and I hope that’s not what she meant. I read this post as concern with what the child SAID, not against children in general or unknown but talkative friendly children in Wal-Mart in particular.

Bring on the “random stranger children.” I love ’em.

Sheila Gregoire

Jamie, that is what I was trying to say! I meant that the fact that the random stranger children talk to you is part of the same issue–that kids think they are a burden to their parents. They’re not valued. When you do value children, they somehow gravitate to you, since that’s what I’ve experienced as well! Sorry I wasn’t clearer, but thanks for seeing through the lines!


Oh Jamie, this post is so important. I too fell in the trap of viewing my kids as a burden and counting down the days till I could have them all in school and be FREE! God has really changed my heart and helped me realize what a blessing they are. I just came to my senses and realized, you know, I love these kids, and what’s more, I *like* them. And our homeschooling days are a joy, even on the hard days. I love this post so much. I think I’m going to share it on facebook. 🙂


Thank you for this post!!! I needed to read this. I have forgotten lately in all of my frustration what a JOY and blessing it is that I am able to stay home with my young children. I want them to always know they are a joy and that I love being with them. I need to work on showing that in my actions.


Wonderful post, Jamie, as it nails a real issue we have in our culture: people don’t seem to enjoy or even seem to like their children. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard the Oh-I-can’t-wait-for-school-to-start comment, whether at summer’s end or after the New Year. I truly cannot understand that way of thinking.

Perhaps some folks would have been better off getting a goldfish instead of a child.

Shelley Morris

That “Oh I can’t wait for school to start” comment has always bothered me, even when my son attended public school. I never could understand why anyone was wanting to get rid of their kids so quickly. Isn’t childhood short enough without wishing our kids time away from us?


Your last sentence is the clincher, isn’t it? We say we love having our kids at home, but do we act like it? Sometimes when I’m being bad mummy and ranting and raving over something or another, I wonder whether my daughter really feels that I’m glad to have her around all day…

Today she will, at least. Thank you for the wake-up call.

PS How’s your dear Dad?


It’s sad that this little girl has such an attitude. I’m betting that it doesn’t only come from home, but perhaps school as well. Our culture these days is so self-involved, but perhaps your comments will stick with her as a fresh perspective to the one she currently has!


That is truly heartbreaking. That last sentence got my attention too. Time for some cuddles with babies.


That is really a sad statement. I imagine she has heard comments that so many of us have overheard about what a relief it is when the kids are in school… and maybe worse. I need to think about the things I say with or without words because it is my JOY to have my children home with me. They do aggravate me sometimes but I don’t ever want to send them to traditional school.


Exactly. How can we expect our children to have self esteem, self worth, if we don’t value them?


I’m so glad I read this today. Literally before I sat down at the computer I was praying that the Lord would help me to always see my children as good and perfect gifts and as the blessings they are.


That is heartbreaking. And a great encouragement to make sure my children don’t think that of me. Thanks for sharing!


I agree that I think this is not homeschooling per se but more of a critique of our society. We are quick to give children whatever material item them want, but withhold the emotional gifts that they really need. This is a wonderful post and a reminder to give our children an extra hug or two today!


It is amazing also that when you begin to homeschool you actually want to be with your children more….instead of the opposite. When I began, my friends who WEREN’T homeschooling mentioned that I would need more girl’s night outs and I laughed and agreed, but then I became the missing one. The one who never wanted to leave her children…..they didn’t get it and then many of my friends changed to those who DID get it. I’m not saying I don’t have days that I don’t want to run out the door screaming….LOL, but overall I want to be there… Read more »


I feel so badly for the little girl who said that to you. Obviously, she isn’t valued the way all children should be by her parents. I think we can often forget how much kids around us hear what we say and retain EVERY LITTLE BIT! I would bet her parents would be mortified if they knew she said this. I wish they had as it might’ve caused them to revisit their behavior around her. If anything, this just confirms what a wonderful parent you are to not only enjoy your children, but also to treasure what time you have… Read more »


Oh that’s so sad… I can’t imagine my kids thinking that I’m merely tolerating them… Poor sweetie.


Oh that dear, poor girl. It does make you wonder about her parents. And it kind of reminds me of the line the Christmas song that goes, “And mom and dad can hardly wait for school to start again.” My kids always tease me when they hear this because I am always saying how it is true, I can’t wait for school to start again so that we can continue learning together at home!


Thank you for this post. I found it incredibly sad as you did that the little girl would just assume that it’s a terrible burden for a mom to be home with her children.



Wow – what a wonderful post. It’s so very sad, and at the same time, so encouraging as a great reminder for us mothers to cherish every moment with our children