Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Not-Enough Syndrome

   Not-Enough Syndrome


        When I was a new mother I felt insecure. My baby cried. She cried everyday. That’s what newborn babies do, I was told. They may cry when they are hungry. Sometimes they cry or fuss when they are overtired or when Mommy is overtired, when they need to be burped, changed, cuddled, kept warm, and any number of things. Weeks went by. My baby cried. I felt nervous and anxious. When I heard, “How do you know if your baby is getting enough?” I couldn’t answer. All the women in my family chose to bottle-feed. I was on my own.

     I was on my own geographically, too. Dean and I had moved to another state, to his new job position, four months prior to the deliver of our firstborn. Therefore, I read about babies and nursing in books.

Yours Truly, Mother-to-be  1982  Pennsylvania

     When my second child was born I settled into a rhythm of nursing, changing, cuddling, bathing, etc. more naturally. I slept better. I was more relaxed. Supply and demand calmly took care of itself. This baby hardly cried or fussed at all. She gave me a satisfied milky smile. I never really knew exactly how much my babies were getting at any given hour of the day or night but they grew none-the-less. They grew out of their tiniest, cutest outfits and became heavier to hold by the week.

Sophia  1983  Florida

     This is the trust a mother needs to have when she home teaches. She can trust that her children are born with a hunger to know. When she gives to them a wide curriculum of ideas they will grow. Aiming for order she will eventually settle into the rhythm of short lessons. She may read aloud several times a day, review phonics or math facts with an energetic wiggler, listen to a child hobble through his sentences in a reading lesson, listen to a narration with just as much required patience.  

Yolanda  1985  New Jersey

     These same hobblers and wigglers are the ones who pick up classic literature in later years and are thoroughly absorbed in it – sophisticated vocabulary and all – sit for 30 minutes writing a history composition, spend 45 minutes with higher math, pick up and play their musical instrument because they want to, etc. Give children opportunity, skills and a wide curriculum of ideas - what they need to grow - and they grow – even without hourly evidence that comes by so-called accurate measuring.

     “How do I know my child is getting enough?” This is a question I was asked frequently during the years I spent writing A Charlotte Mason Companion. New home teachers understandably felt insecure about doing things differently, about using living books, assigning copywork, listening and recording a young child’s narration rather than have him complete a multiple-choice quiz or the questionnaire from an authoritative teacher’s guide.    

Nigel 1990  Tennessee


     The “not-enough syndrome” doesn’t seem to be as much of a concern as it once was. This crossed my mind recently. Many in the home school world take courage in using all kinds of lovely books in the curriculum and it isn’t bizarre to hear children “tell” about them or write about them. A generation of home taught children have come of age since A Charlotte Mason Companion was first published. These children are teaching their children with confidence today. “My mother read your Companion,” is the message shared with me now. This was my greeting from the pianist (a mother of four) of my daughter’s church. I smiled. And momentarily reconsidered whether I should be dying my hair.  

On our married daughter's table,  Maryland

     An envelope came to my mailbox from a long distance friend. In the letter she wrote that God has graciously enabled her to complete another year of home teaching. I love this statement. It shows her meekness, contentment and gratitude. She has been diligently teaching her children for twenty years. In raising her good size family I know the daily effort she puts out has to be enormous but she acknowledges from whom all blessings flow.

Dean and the children  1990  Tennessee

     As mothers we ought to give all we can give. Our eyes are open to where we might make adjustments or improvements. But we are also faced with human limitations. Perhaps you have felt that your children aren’t getting enough or that you aren’t able to do enough. Take heart. Here is a truth that is trustworthy. If we are Christians we can place our trust in God to bring fruit from the seeds we lovingly and dutifully sow. Remember the parable of the loaves and fishes. The boy who offered the loaves and fishes gave all of his lunch, sacrificially. Was it enough for the multitude? No. Did our Lord Jesus make it enough? He blessed it, multiplied it and made it more than enough. He is able to do exceedingly more abundantly than we ask or think. 

Our grandsons, yesterday, behind their home,  Maryland

     “He who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will supply and multiply your seed for sowing and increase the harvest of your righteousness.”
     (2 Corinthians 9:10 from St. Paul’s message on giving)

Comments are Welcome,
Karen Andreola

Post Script
An Unexpected Link to Encourage the Educator

I was a fan of Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood in days gone by. Dean stumbled upon this Remix on YouTube. It’s a jazzed up version of one of Fred Roger’s songs. The music isn’t my chosen style but because it conveys what Miss Mason sought to convey about trusting in the power of ideas, I link it here. It proves a curious collaboration.  



  1. Dear Karen,

    This post came as I was just analyzing my son's school year. I was feeling that we haven't done enough. He isn't where I think he ought to be. Did I fail in pushing him this year? Thank you for sharing your thoughts and those of your friend's. God gave me the opportunity to teach B, and for that I'm grateful. That is what I need to focus on.

    I enjoyed your pictures!

  2. Yes, he graciously provides the increase. Praise Him!

    I've seen the remix before. Gotta love that man. His heart was so for children...

    Blessings, Debbie

  3. Dear Karen,

    I enjoy how you have so wonderfully woven giving our babies a nurturing home environment and giving our children a wide curriculum of ideas for them to grow. So true! I would say that it is a beautiful analogy, but it seems that the more I ponder this, it's really not an analogy at all, but as infant, just the beginning of a CM education:-)

    So much meat in this post....

    I just attended my first Charlotte Mason conference right here in our little hometown. After reading this post and coming home from the conference last week with a fresh mind for the upcoming year of home teaching, i feel more than fed to continue leading my children down this remarkable journey of learning.

    Reading your CM companion over four years ago for the first time, has radically changed learning at home for my children. And...I see the tender little fruit in their lives each day because of it.

    There is no turning back. And for me too, what was "not enough syndrome" in my early years of motherhood and home teaching, has now become a full and satisfied mama in Christ.



  4. Karen,

    Even after 18 years of home educating, I sometimes fret that I haven't "given" them enough. This year the Lord used our evaluation time to make a point with me.

    Because we owned the store this past year and I was responsible for so much with that, I had to give more independent studies this year than I normally do. The kids did well, but still I wasn't sure. The girls needed to be tested this year and wouldn't you know, they did fabulously! Well above grade level!

    If we lay a good foundation of good, living books;of things to think about and music and art they will learn to learn and thrive!


  5. Dear Karen,
    Thank you so much for your continued encouragement. We've been friends for so long. Our first baby was born in 1980. Now we have five college graduates and one in college and two at home. I remember praying that God would let me be able to live this 'culture of life' "forever" ... I loved it so much, well, here we are taking our children to the homeschool conference now and the grandchildren are really benefitting. I was so nervous with our firstborn too and I don't think the anxious moments ever completely go away. But these adult children are such a beautiful fruit of the atmosphere of home and the love of Father and Mother. Thank you and

    With love, Mary Lou

    P.S. Don't dye your hair! You wear gray very nicely!

  6. What a beautiful description of homeschooling! I love how you compared this to taking care of a baby and how we mothers will fall into our own rhythm. So true!

    The pictures are also lovely and very precious to see.

    Your writing is soothing and will comfort Home Educating Mothers who are weary and wondering.

    Mrs. White

  7. Dear Karen,

    Thank you so much! Such an encouraging post! I love the verses you chose! My family is always amazed at the end of another school year to see how God has helped us through the difficulties. Truly, without Him we couldn't do it. And yet, He has always multiplied the "loaves and fish" of my strength and ability, when given to Him. How grateful I am!

    Beautiful pictures of your family!

    God bless,

  8. Good example, comparing nursing to home schooling and looking for evidence of growth. We "finished" the school year feeling like we didn't do enough. Loaves and fishes - with faith, moving on. Trusting the Lord that it is enough.
    Love the Mr. Rogers remix. A fun version of his song - growing ideas in your mind, and like my garden, attempting to keep out the weeds. Thank you, as always, for a warm, encouraging post.

  9. Thank you so much for your encouraging words, they were just the reminder I needed as I mentally review the accomplishments of this year of learning in my home. Your blog and books have been such a blessing to me!


  10. I always wondered if I did,gave or prayed enough while raising my children....they are not perfect,nor were they raised by perfect parents,but I have to believe and trust, through God's loving grace....his way was enough! I do wish I would have had your book though :) I was a very young mother of 15 years when my first tiny premature baby girl was born. So unexperinced at being a mother,but after the second and third child...I was well trained :) Your children were beautiful babies....thank you for a lovely,thoughtful post....blessings friend

  11. Dear Karen,
    You have a knack for speaking Peace into my life. Thank you for your encouragement to seek the Lord above all! Precious pics of your family!


  12. Beautiful!
    I love the analogy to a nursing mother. It is perfect.

    I don't know any homeschooling mother (including myself) who ever thinks they've "done enough". But if we keep our focus on Him, since He is the one who works through us, we can't fail.
    I've seen it happen so many times in our 13 years of homeschooling....the years I thought were the worst because "my" plans didn't work out turned out to be the best because we learned so much more unexpectedly.
    Keep on sharing and encouraging us moms who are still in the trenches!!! We can never hear this enough!

  13. I am not a homeschooling mom, I admire all of you who do. It turned out for at least two of our 4 children that it was best for all of us that they go out to school since they have autism spectrum disorders. We have been blessed to have had special education teachers with wonderful hearts for these children and respect for our faith. I still suffer from this "not-enough Syndrome"though. I hope that we have instilled in our children a love for God , and driving desire to serve Him. Of course, I can see what we might have done differently or better but in the end I do have to trust that "all things work together for good for them who love God and are called according to His purpose". AND we are not finished yet!

  14. I appreciate your application of the loaves and fishes account. The Lord does indeed graciously bless our efforts.


  15. I have been reading but not able to comment for the past few posts! It was your book, A Charlotte Mason Companion, that became dogeared in my small stack of favorite homeschool books. :)

    After reading your comment on my blog, I now cannot look at my "new-to-me" vintage teacup with the pine cone pattern and not think of your novels!

  16. I am beyond honored to "meet" you, Karen! The very topic of this post is at the heart of the quotes I selected to highlight from The Peasant Girl's Dream! I will see if I can find The Curate's Awakening after I finish The Lady's Confession. If it's good enough for you to re-read it aloud, it must be worthy of a FIRST reading :)

  17. As a new mother, I worried. It was normal, I think, to worry...if my child getting enough.....milk, attention, love.

    Then the second and third come along, and you learn by trial and error, that yes, they are getting enough. That my instincts were correct. That our Lord gave each of us as mother, that innate wisdom to just know. But we as mothers, have to learn to listen to Him completely.

    I just graduated my first homeschooler, my oldest son. I worried in the beginning of the journey, if he was getting enough of the subjects that were required, but I also wanted him to get beyond the necessities, and to embrace his uniqueness.

    It was when I started trying to fit everything in, and allow the rhythm of learning to just flow naturally, that we began to enjoy teaching and learning.

    Now, I start the second part of this journey with my middle son...and the attitude is so much more relaxed.

    Home schooling is a gift, we as parents, can give to our children.

    Thank you Karen for sharing...

  18. Your post covers a cornucopia of wonderful areas! I could make an equal amount of comments, but for brevity sake and to keep you from having to read them all...I will just say a few things...I hope(smile).

    True confidence in what we are doing does not come without much prayer. The world's form of confidence may leave us with empty cisterns, but when we stay connected with Him, He provides an ongoing, flowing confidence to do what HE has purposed for us to do. But I am preaching to myself here because I fail to walk in that confidence many times.

    I loved your sidetrack comment about dying your hair! This is always a matter of thought with me these days. Confidence needed here in another perspective altogether!

    And lastly, because I have said enough, I love your photos and your words of Jesus regarding the loaves and fishes. Some days as a wife, mother, home school teacher, and homemaker, the most I can do is offer my few "loaves and fishes" to Him and allow Him to multiply it for His glory.
    Blessings to your day!

  19. Yes Ladies,
    The biggest blessing in life of a Christian and in the work of home teaching is the Holy Spirit.
    Your comments speak "kinship words."
    Thank you,
    Karen A.