Riverside Mom Balances Homeschooling and Writing Career

By March 26, 2023


Theresa Barber (Tess) is relatively new to Riverside. Her eight-year-old son just began the Tutorial program this past September, yet Tess already understands the uniqueness of what Riverside brings to families–adults as well as children.

A writer for the English version of Aleteia, Tess had the opportunity recently to explain Riverside’s vision to the online publication’s more than 600,000 subscribers. (Read the full article here: “Incredible boys’ fellowship inspired by Tolkien-Lewis friendship”.)

Tess also took a moment here to talk about why she thought Riverside would make a good topic for her readers, how she balances work and homeschooling, and why a solid foundation in the classics helps us participate in the “great conversation” of life.

Why do you think it is important to study the classics? 

I started at Notre Dame as an English major, and I felt nervous about switching to the small and little-known Program of Liberal Studies. But a friend said she chose that major so she would “learn what it means to be human.” Studying the past reveals to us who we are and what we are capable of as human beings. Classics help us join in “the great conversation” that has been going on since human beings have left records. Wrestling with these great questions brings meaning and purpose to our lives, as we realize how much we have in common with so many people throughout history. Reading these works leads us to examine what it means to live a good life. Classics are so very worthwhile and life-giving to study.

How did you end up as a journalist/writer? 

I always loved writing and wrote for school newspapers in high school and college, but it seemed unrealistic to make it my career so I went into editing and communications. After my oldest was born, I quit my office job to be a stay-at-home mom for a few years, but I reached a point when I wanted to contribute financially to our family and also wanted to homeschool and stay home with my kids. I took it to prayer and asked God to help me find a way to do both. I had no idea how it could possibly work, but knew God could provide. Sure enough, soon after, a friend reached out with news of a position at Aleteia, where I have worked part-time as a staff writer for several years. I always say God planned my career, because I sure didn’t!

Please talk a little bit about where you have written and what kind of work you did at each place. What job have you enjoyed the most? 

I have written a number of freelance articles over the years, but the only publication I’ve worked for as a regular writer is Aleteia. I really enjoyed my previous work as a book editor, but my work at Aleteia is definitely my favorite. Nothing beats the flexibility of writing from home, and I love that the bulk of my writing is about my life as a Catholic homeschooling mom. It’s a great feeling to find a use for what I’ve learned about education and liturgical living in the home!

What do you like most about writing for Aleteia? 

I love that I can write about anything I want and dive deeply into my interests. Interesting conversations with my children and good books I’m reading frequently make their way into my writing! There’s a natural and seamless marriage between my home life and my career, and I love that. The other great job perk is that I get free review copies of all the latest Catholic books. My kids love all the children’s books that arrive in the mail, and you can count on me for book recommendations any time.

What types of articles do you enjoy writing the most, and why?

I like sharing bits of my life as a mom, especially teaching my children. Many of my Aleteia readers are long past the stage of having small children in their homes, so they seem to enjoy getting glimpses into this phase. The work of sharing our faith with our young children takes a lot of thought and effort: Little kids ask such interesting questions about faith, and we parents need to be on our toes to answer them in a way that’s honest and theologically accurate, but also age-appropriate. When I’m able to share aspects of faith with my kids in a way that resonates with them, I like taking those conversations and sharing them more widely in an article, hoping the insights gleaned can be helpful to other parents.

What is working and raising a family/homeschooling like?

It’s a balancing act that wouldn’t be possible without my husband, who takes on so much around the home to give me time to write. Some days are hectic, but mostly, we have found a great rhythm. I love the creative outlet of my job, and I love the intellectual challenge and connection of homeschooling. I feel grateful every day that I get to do both.

What made you decide to write a piece on Riverside?

A big part of my job as a writer for a large Catholic magazine is to share exciting and good things happening around the country with my readers. Riverside certainly fits the bill! Relatedly, I’m always on the lookout for interesting stories to share with Aleteia readers, so don’t hesitate to reach out to me if there’s something on your mind that makes you think,”Wow, more people should really know about this.”


Monta Hernon

Author Monta Hernon

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