So this year was our first and our last year homeschooling. At least that’s how it seems right now. Honestly I think it’s impossible to know for sure what the future holds. Homeschooling certainly taught me that.
The reasons I think it didn’t work for us are many. My kids really liked regular school. They had good experiences and great teachers. If we had started homeschooling with some anti-school fire in our bellies that might have changed things.
I also have to consider my motivation for doing it in the first place. For one thing moving, and some anxiety over that, was a factor. They went to a lovely school. Fear of the unknown and wanting to shelter the children was certainly a factor. In terms of education I think for the right family homeschooling can be a wonderful experience. I think you have to actually enjoy teaching for it to be a success (IMO). I know some of the homeschooling community will disagree but the ability to turn every day moments into enriching educational experiences involves teaching. Opening up a curriculum and making it come alive involves teaching. And if you are 100% unschooling (which Nicholas eagerly requested over and over) then thats something different altogether.
I realize I have been teaching my kids things for their entire lives but seriously it is not the same as teaching phonics or multiplication or even addition for that matter! We ended up switching to an online based curriculum in October and did that along with grade level work books and other things like plain old copy work just to improve their handwriting.
Trying to literally be everything all the time to my children was a lot though. Doing lessons with big kids while little kids were around was hard. Doing the regular mom stuff like keeping them from burning the house down and being teacher mommy was hard. The kids found my lessons boring and the computer lessons boring and they missed seeing the same kids every day. The routine of school had worked for them.
And the ultimate truth is I found it boring. I love my kids but I don’t really want to be their entire world. I know it doesn’t have to be this way but it’s how it felt for me. I think I jumped into it really trying to almost make it my “career”. I think I have been ready to work outside the home for a while but felt guilty about it. How could I choose to work if I don’t have to? Wouldn’t that make it seem like I don’t love and want my kids enough? Nick has surgeries (here’s where fh comes in) I need to be available for. Working would bring stress to everyone.
Well most of that isn’t true at all. I know lots of working moms who I think love their kids as much as I love mine. Wether they work because they choose to or because they have to. Nicks big surgeries are done for a long while. He’ll never have an external fixator again. Things will come up and he will have internal lengthening but truthfully lots of families work through surgeries and it all turns out ok. Their kids legs grow. They survive.
The true part is working would add stress. That is true. However my being fulfilled in another way will make me a better mom. If you are fulfilled by at home motherhood more power to you. Keep doing what works for you but for me it really doesn’t anymore. It actually wasn’t my plan. I wanted to be a psychologist. I graduated magna cum laude so I could apply to grad school. But life happened and grad school didn’t.
Back to schooling. The kids are excited to go back. Nick did express some anxiety today and this is where the fibular hemimelia comes in again. “I probably wont fit in because of my leg but then they’ll say ‘wow he’s had a lot of surgeries he must be a tough guy’. This time I’ll be more open minded. The last two years I just looked for someone like me [to be friends with]”.
Of course fibular hemimelia plays into my desire to shelter the kids. The truth is Nick has had moments where he has had to stand up for himself and he has done fine. Most kids will have these moments wether they have two fibulas or not. I have to remember my goal of providing so much love and acceptance at home that he is strong enough to handle what the outside world dishes out. I hope he is strong enough to come home and tell me when someone or something hurts his feelings, strong enough to allow himself to feel bad sometimes but to keep going. I hope that for all of my children.
In the end I do not feel like I am being the best mom I can be in the homeschooling mom role. A homeschooling mom I really admire asked me to consider what my ideal day would look like. She helped me to see that it was ok for me not to want to homeschool. She has fabulous kids that I adore. They are kind and smart and lovely. But the truth is she is a fierce mom who is doing what she wants to do. That has to factor in there somewhere. My fierce momma skills lie elsewhere.
I still think school sucks in some ways but now I know homeschooling does too. There is not a perfect or easy answer. This time it’s my turn to be strong enough to say this is not working and we are ready to make a change. If I follow my children’s example I know I’ll get there.
These photos are from mothers day 2011. When people hear that I have four children they very often say “That’s a handful” or some version of that. So I reply “It’s a happy handful”, which it really is most of the time.