Quitting is the Greatest Victory

You know the saying. “Quitters never win and winners never quit.” Well, it’s wrong. Yep! Just plain wrong. Sure, there is something to be said for persevering and sweating your way to your goal. Hard work is commendable and often necessary. But what if quitting is just as admirable and essential? I think that it is. Here’s why.

At the end of the summer, I did what I have done at the end of every summer for as long as we have been homeschooling. I made plans. Lots and lots of plans. And schedules and checklists and booklists. I crafted a beautifully, synchronized symphony of chores, music lessons, sports, and learning activities for six kids. It was a masterpiece. All laid out on the paper.

Our “school year” began and, lo and behold, it worked. For three days. That’s it! Three days!

Don’t get me wrong. I tried for weeks to maintain the smooth flow of those first glorious days when every box was checked. But the truth is. I was tired. It takes an obscene amount of energy to do it ALL. And quite frankly, I’m not cut out to do it all. So, I quit!

Yep. After four weeks of trudging through four math lessons a day, four language arts lesson, history, geography, science, art, music, nursery rhymes, and salt dough making while overseeing countless other trivial details like meals and laundry, I just quit. Not the exasperated why-is-this-so-hard-quit. (Though I have done that before.) But the there-is-no-possible-way-to-do-it-all quit.

What’s the difference? Not much unless you experience a shift in perspective when you throw in the towel. And for me, that’s what happened. When I fully grasped that my approach to homeschooling wasn’t working, and even more humbly admitted that my approach didn’t reflect my view of learning or values about family, then and only then could I fully quit. Knowing that in quitting I was allowing myself the biggest victory I had ever experienced.

You see, in that moment, flooded with realization and crystal clear vision, I knew that continuing on in our old, familiarly uncomfortable patterns, shuffling kids through lessons without ever feeling fully connected, wasn’t working. It was actually doing more harm than good. My patience was stretched thinner than the threads of a spider web, and exasperation was my new tone of voice.

So it was time. Time to quit and walk away.

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Waving the flag of surrender was simultaneously liberating and terrifying. Self-doubt crept in from every side. Maybe you’re just not cut out for this. Why did you think you could homeschool all these kids? What were you thinking?

But fortunately, my more optimistic self stood up and shouted, “You can do this if you do it your way!”

What? What was that? My way? I would have to fashion my own mold? Clear my own path? Find my own homeschooling voice?

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For once I didn’t go searching books and blogs for answers, looking for someone else’s ideals to guide me. Instead, I looked into the eyes of my children and the heart of family. What I found was an absolute, all-out love affair with books and conversation. A deep trust of natural learning. And an even deeper desire for connectedness.

From here, from these pillars, I have begun to re-build. Now, instead of rushing through the checklists, we linger....reading for hours, playing games, memorizing math facts, building block towers and more importantly, nurturing relationships. The days still feel full to bursting and chaos flows freely as before, but I have found something that before felt like an elusive dream. Peace.

I have to laugh. I never thought that in quitting and throwing it all away, we would gain so much. Because, like most people, I believed that quitters never win. But not now. I’m proud to call myself a quitter. I quit seeking and looked within. I quit putting the opinions of others above the truth in my heart. I quit trying to meet the expectations I thought I were needed. As a family, we quit being anything other than what we are and what we may yet become. Us.

The best part is that you can find the same peace, your own greatest victory, if only you have the courage to quit.