This post is part of the Gifted Homeschoolers Forum (GHF) February 2014 Blog Hop. However, if you don’t homeschool and prefer to read this post as “Parenting During the Hard Parts,” it’ll resonate perhaps as well.
They come, they go.
In our lives just as on our calendars.
And when we enter into the decision to homeschool our children, we make certain decisions, no . . . we make assumptions about how they will proceed.
We forget or are oblivious to the fact that like every other phase or aspect of parenting, homeschooling has its seasons, too. I’m not just talking about moving our children along academically, trading phonics and basic addition and subtraction for the study of Chaucer and pre-calculus. There’s also the co-op group that only holds together to for a year, breaking apart when the lead teacher-parent gets transferred. Or the realization that the neighborhood park play group that we’ve counted upon for years now presents serious personality and behavioral issues that no one in a leadership role cares to address, forcing us to pack up our kids, the sand toys, and leave.
The actual seasons of the year play a role. Late spring brings swim lessons that force us to back-burner geography. Winter holidays invite us to consider fractions and long-division in recipes, measurement and geometry problems while wrapping presents for friends and family.
Somehow, even when our own personalities leave us anxious that we’re incapable of doing what we set out to do—to teach our own, we make it through. Imperfectly perhaps. That’s okay. It just has to be good enough, not amazing. Not transcendent. We regain our composure, we move forward.
Like the seasons, we change.
We hit our stride again.
YES! We are clever, we think to ourselves. Mighty clever.
Here come the surprise turns of life—grief, illness, divorce. Oh, and then there are the things that don’t surprise us as much as periodically (routinely?) undermine our fragile sense of self-efficacy (the recalcitrant teenager, for example, who has always been a challenge to parent).
In the darkest hours of our days our exhausted brains switch on at 3:45 AM. We can’t help but think about The Problem (whatever it is, temporary or perennial) because it has lured Doubt out from under the bed where it lurks like one of childhood’s monsters. So, yeah, we think about The Problem even though we need sleep while Doubt points out our shortcomings.
To right ourselves, we do what we’ve been taught or learned to do. We pray, we meditate, we recite lines of the poem that invites us to remember that we are not alone in our pain, doubt, and fears. We get up, we make a cup of tea. We stew about it, stunned that this is the season that we’re in. Damn. Under the cover of night we order a few more parenting and homeschooling books from Amazon, hoping that another parenting expert or a different curriculum will help.
We worry if we’re good enough. We worry if we’re strong enough to push through with the housework, the job, the adult relationships, and dear God why are we homeschooling right now?
We learn that, in order to survive, we can only reach out.
In those seasons, the cold ones and the white-hot ones that seem too hot to bear, we must reach out. We find people who understand us, people who share our belief that the decision to teach our children at home is complex and about so much more than teaching the 3 Rs. We find people who support us, even if they live half a continent or half a world away. We develop a plan. We move toward change again. Maybe we do send the kids back to public school. Or maybe just the eldest one?
For all our twisting and turning, the only thing we really can do is wait. The resolution usually reveals itself.
After nights like that, outside as dusk turns to dawn while we sit slumped and dozing on the couch, the sun’s rays make their way to us. Morning rays. The light of resilience. They find us.
We lurch forward into the new day until we find momentum. With patience, with practice–day in, day out–it returns, too. The Problem will go away–or at least we’ll find a solution “good enough” to help us hit our stride once more.
Yes, in the morning we are on the road to being clever again. Once more it seems worthwhile to homeschool. The Problem seems manageable. Doubt creeps back into the shadows and settles alongside the dust behind the sofa.
We make a mental note to sweep it away next week, after the birthday party and the Greek Mythology unit study. We’ll feel up to it then. Or maybe we’ll be feeling too good to worry about it.
That’ll be lovely, yes, when it happens.
And it almost always does.