I must have written the words long ago and on a really bad day, but I found them recently, scrawled on a page torn from a notebook and paper clipped into a pile of scribbled notes: “Homeschooling is one more way for you to imagine you have failed your children.” Chances are pretty good that in that moment, I was remembering all the weeks I had forgotten to give the kids their Friday spelling tests; all the hurried bedtimes because I was just d-o-n-e; the impatient explanations, the science experiments that flopped, and the inconsistent enforcement of the chore chart and… (I could go on all day!)
Author and special needs parent Jamie Sumner compares this kind of self-recrimination to “rain that swells a river and finally breaks the dam.” (xii) Her words of encouragement to the special needs parent encourage all parents to flip our persective, to focus on the moments when we found grace to live with our children in determination, hope, resilience, patience, laughter, and thankfulness.
Sumner writes from experience as the mother to a son with cerebral palsy and, while she brings gritty stories of tongue reduction surgeries, suctioning trachea goop, and buckling a car seat around a G-tube, there is no despair in the room. Eat, Sleep, Save the World reminds the special needs parent that she is a superhero to her child. Jamie pulls in a cast of characters from Marvel comics just to make her point, and since she has a way with a narrative, she works her magic on biblical personalities from Lot to Lazarus, all with the goal of empowering mums and dads to persevere in the good work of showing up every single day with hope.
Optimism is contagious, so today I’m viewing that scribbled indictment of my homeschooling career through a new lens. Yes, I could imagine that I have failed my children as their teacher, but I could also observe that, somehow, miraculously, they are all in the process of becoming employable, articulate, and godly young men. And I did manage to remember those spelling tests… most of the time.
Many thanks to B&H Publishing for providing a copy of this book to facilitate my review, which, of course, is offered freely and with honesty.
Grace and peace to you,
It was a great privilege to review Jamie’s first book on finding freedom from the unrealistic expectations of motherhood. Click here to check out my review of Unbound. Jamie has also written two amazing books for kids, and she is a skilled and lyrical essayist, which you can verify for yourself with one quick visit to her website here.
I am a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees. If you should decide to purchase Eat, Sleep, Save the World: Words of Encouragement for the Special Needs Parent or Unbound: Finding Freedom from Unrealistic Expectations of Motherhood, simply click on the title or the image, and you’ll be taken directly to Amazon. If you decide to buy, I’ll make a small commission at no extra cost to you.
Subscribe to Living Our Days to get regular content delivered to your inbox. Just enter your e-mail address in the field at the top of this page.