[NOTE: 1/3/07 I found this in my draft pile and thought I'd go ahead and publish it "as is". This is a topic I've been thinking about again recently, so added a few more items to the list at the end of this post.]
It's kind of funny. I've been getting asked for advice about homeschooling since I returned home after my first year of college. People wanted to know what I thought of homeschooling now that I had graduated and had a year of college under my belt. (I clearly remember that first question at a Catholic family campout we went to every summer) The first mom (and many more since) explained that she was worried whether she would be able to give her children a good education and prepare them for life. I said that I thought it was a healthy thing that she was worried - I'd be worried if she was over-confident and arrogant about it. This answer has always seemed to help. It let us laugh over things and remember that worrying is normal. Just don't get carried away!
Like many things in our lives there's a balance necessary to keep the right mindset about our own abilities and failings. As parents, educators, human beings, we need to be willing to regularly "examine" ourselves and consider what we ought to do, what areas we should work and how to go about it.
The problem is that we so easily fall into perfectionism and constantly examining and stressing (and comparing ourselves to others) over the little things to the point that this can negatively interfere with what we should be doing.
I don't think insecurities and feelings of guilt ever go away entirely for many moms. But if these can be channeled into a reasonable examination of our lives and our work we're doing okay.
There are two things you can DO to help keep this balance. This first is to ask God's help. God's grace is the answer. The other is to talk to other moms and not "put them on pedestals" or jump to conclusions about their circumstances or situation.
Here are some things I try to remember to keep a healthy balance that falls somewhere between complacency and scrupulosity...
Solid educational content is essential, but no one can learn all there is to learn in the world (particularly in 12 years!), so take the content at a pace that works well for each child (keeping in mind that you want them to learn what they study well and end up wanting to learn more).
In schools, entire textbooks are very seldom (if ever) completed in the course of a year.
Skills important for learning and life (like reading comprehension, fine motor skills, the ability to understand distinctions and basic writing skills) are more important than trudging through vast quantities of educational content.
Something that Pope John Paul II's mother taught him (at least according to the Pope John Paul II movie) - "The world is complicated, Lolek, but God is simple."
The quote from St. Francis of Assisi that I've taken on as my homeschool motto: