We’re official homeschoolers!

The letter has been sent and the schools notified.  The curriculum materials are here and our little office is ready to go.  I have a loose idea of what our lives might look like and what we might do.  Mostly, my hope is that we enjoy this year, deschool ourselves, and grow as people and a family.

Mia and Anna are both excited to volunteer at a nursing home in our neighborhood.  We’ll all do this together, playing music for them, visiting, and doing other random things.  I think it will be fun and special.

I would still like to quit my job and just homeschool the girls, but my logical mind knows this is not the right thing to do.  If I quit now, I’ll lose my connections to my work and stop earning hours toward my license.   And, the money….that’s really the kicker. I keep reminding myself that our kids will someday grow up and I will want a career at that time.  And, I do really like working with my clients, even if I dislike other aspects of my job. So, I’m talking myself our of quitting…every day lately.

I don’t know what I’m doing, really.  With homeschooling, with my job, with my life. I wonder if anyone else feels like this. I am forty years old and I am still clueless with many things. Each day I just do things and I am vaguely aware of what my long-term goals are anymore.  I look at websites and blogs that inspire me, and I think, “I wish I were doing that” and “I could never do that” and then I feel down on myself.  Some people are so ambitious and focused.  I am not.  I am interested in many things, and those interests tend to fade before I delve deeply into them.  I want to do and be so many things.  I get restless and bored easily. The gifts of being a Gemini, maybe.

I kind of feel like it’s all falling apart lately, my life, my inner world, my health, my mental state. But, maybe it’s falling apart in an okay way, like in a way of letting go and releasing the need to know about or control things.  Something like that.  I think need to just roll with it, one day at a time, while staying somewhat focused on the long-term, too.

What’s next? Homeschooling!

My last post reflected on the last few years and the storms we have weathered as a family in order to be where we are today: a pretty good, solid place. So, what better time than now to throw something new into the mix?

Mia and Anna have been asking to be homeschooled for the past two years.  After plenty of reflection, research, and problem solving, we’ve found a way to make it work–and think it will be for the best.  Our kids will have more freedom and more peace and quiet. They will have more time, less pressure, and more connection and meaningfulness.  We’ve done it before and we can do it again, right?

This time, though, it will be a little different.  I will continue working part-time.  Mia will be a college-bound high school student.  We will have to keep records, complete curriculum, and make sure we’re on track with everything that is required for her to become a successful college student.  I feel pretty excited about it all, and needless to say, the girls do, too.

And Anna–well, she needs something entirely different. We will follow a general curriculum with her, but we will take it easy.  She needs healing. She needs space and room to play, wonder, imagine, create, and breathe.  She needs me close by to hug and comfort her. She needs distance and protection from the world of public school, which has been overwhelming to her gentle spirit.

We have laid low and haven’t officially announced this to our family and friends quite yet.  There are people who will disagree, be disappointed, and be unsupportive.  That is ok.  We are doing this for us–for our family.  It feels right to us, and that’s what matters. We are fortunate to have my parents’ full excitement and support. It always helps to have someone in one’s corner.

This homeschooling venture is a great labor of love.  It is a sacrifice that may challenge me in ways I do not yet know. In many ways, it is like a new baby.  It will take adjustment, patience, and commitment.

 

 

 

 

 

On feeling secure and being loved.

I am in a pretty good and secure place now.  My family has had a long stint of illness  this fall; the girls and Alan have had bronchitis over the last 2 weeks, and I have been well.  It’s been tiring to care for everyone but somehow I’ve managed and have met the demands of school and internship without having any major breakdowns.  I am beginning to think that I am capable of handling this thing called life, even when it throws in the unexpected.

I am also beginning to see how many people have my back.  I have had so much support over the last month, from being cared for when I was sick, to receiving words and gestures of love and support from friends, to my school being super supportive about my absences and letting me make it up, to my internship giving me the space I need to care for myself and my family–and no hard feelings or guilt involved.  I think there was an important lesson for me to learn here:

I am taken care of.  I matter.

I really, really like my work as a therapist at Park Avenue Center.  Now that I am doing individual and couples counseling as an MFT student, and no longer doing the LADC work–I just love it.  I know this is what I am called to do, and it makes me feel settled and secure.  I feel like I am contributing and no longer a burden to the center.  I know how to do a lot of things now.  I love working with the clientele at the center I am at. They need this and they appreciate it so much.  I don’t even have to be good for them to appreciate it; I just have to be present and listen to them.  Which is good, because I am nowhere near being a good therapist–but thankfully I am able to listen and genuinely care, and sometimes that is all they need.

Sometimes I feel self-conscious about this blog and how it’s “all about ME.”  It’s kind of self-absorbed.  And then again, it’s the place I can sort out all of these things I need to sort out so I can figure out my life and myself.  It’s healing and rejuvenating.  I do care a lot about other people, not just about myself.  I also know that I have to know myself and love myself first in order to be my best self.  My blog helps me with that, I guess.

I have been really crabby at home lately.  Really anxious and controlling.  I think it has to do with feeling out of control in many ways, and that my home is a place I can express some form of control.  I want my house neat and clean.  It is soothing to me and allows me to focus.  I wish my family felt the same.  They don’t.  I am still the house manager like I’ve always been, only more crabby and demanding. I’ve also felt confused in my marriage and what is ok to expect and what is not.  This goes back to my “boundaries” work I’ve been doing for a while.  It’s a new layer.  I don’t know what is ok to expect, and what belongs to me and what belongs to him.

The Sandplay training I am working on is going well, and I still feel very drawn to continuing and using it in my future as a therapist.  I think I want to eventually have a private practice with a specialty in healing childhood trauma through the use of Sandplay and other modalities.  That is what gets me excited about my future.  I think I am becoming more drawn to working with children.

Alan and I want to buy a piece of land somewhere in WI or MN.  Private and secluded, somewhere we can have a family getaway and build an off-grid cabin someday.  I think we can actually make it a reality someday soon.  It is really, really exciting and I think about it every day.  We hope it will be quiet, have some water access, either on the land or close by.  We’d like a chunk about 20-40 acres.  Maybe we could even live there someday if it would work for our careers.  We both love the country.  We also want a city close enough, especially one with a co-op so we can get our healthy groceries.  The Superior area is looking rather good right now.

Anna is not super happy about Kindergarten anymore.  We’re trying to talk about it a lot and help her with coping skills, and it seems to be helping somewhat.  We’re encouraging her to make the best of it and remember it is over in 6 months.  After that, I think I’d like to home school her for a year.  We could all use a respite from the craziness of this year.  It sure would be nice.

The other night, Anna wanted to snuggle me in my office chair.  I thought about how it was hard to get the space I needed to do the work.  But how could I resist? Then I picked her up and snuggled her.  She melted into me and I could just feel her love.  I felt how wonderful it was to have this being whom I so deeply love, right there close to my heart, loving me right back–while I do my work.  What a blessing. I love her so much. She is such a gift.

Having children is such a healing experience.  I have been thinking of that since that moment in the office chair.  For those of us who did not feel loved as children, or who felt loved only conditionally, having this unconditional love to give and to receive with our own children is such an incredible gift.  Yes, it is time-consuming and sometimes stressful to have children, and it opens us up and heals us in the most incredible ways, which makes that work and stress melt away.  I am so grateful to be a mother.  It’s such a beautiful thing.  It’s such a beautiful thing to love and be loved unconditionally.

Homeschool vs. public school after 5 days

We are five days into public school after nine years of homeschooling. It has been a huge change, and I think it will be a while before I am fully adjusted.

This is what I love about public school so far:

1. It is free

2. It is a 6-hour break for me to not worry about one child and be able to focus on my other child

3. Mia’s teacher is extremely organized, structured, and creative.  She’s fun and a great role model for Mia.

4. Mia goes outside every day and gets play with other kids her age in fresh air with exercise. Every day.

5. She gets exposed to a variety of topics each day and broadens her horizons.

6. She is learning how to do things more quickly, such as change into snow-gear and pack a backpack at the end of the day.

7. She doesn’t have to fight with a three-year-old for 6 hours a day.

8. It has placed structure and routine into our lives, and I have thrived on it, for the most part.  It has made me more productive and organized, and my meals more intentional and interesting.

What I loved about homeschool:

1. The freedom to make our own schedule or not have one at all.

2.  That Mia could play guitar, sing, draw, read and write for hours each day–in her pajamas and with messy hair.  I also very much love that this is what she did for most of her life before she went to school.

3. Lots of downtime with Mia, lots of time for conversation, and lots of shared experiences that gave us a strong and wonderful bond that I hope, with my whole heart, will last forever.

4. The lack of homework

5. The quickness and ease of learning something new, without having to wait around or follow procedures to do so.

6. The lack of negative peer influence/ constant presence of positive influence

7. The extra sleep for everyone

8. The space to act on inspiration and learn/do anything that pleases us

9. The ability/space for Mia to learn at her level and at her pace

10. The opportunity for natural learning/ learning from true life events not created in a classroom (such as planning, shopping, and making a meal for dinner).

11.  That without ever having a spelling test prior to this week, Mia was able to develop the ability to spell years beyond her grade level, all on her own, simply by reading, writing, and developing in a natural way.

As of today, my conclusion is that homeschooling is awesome–and public school is awesome.  They each have their own great qualities, and one can’t replicate the other.  A little is lost and a little is won. They are two very different options, and I think I am pretty lucky that I’ve had the opportunity to experience both.

I do think we will go back to homeschooling someday, perhaps years down the road.  But for now, and except for the homework, I love having my kid in school.

A happy, happy day

For nine years’ of days and nights, I have had Mia under my wing.  She’s been my shadow for all of her life, my little companion, my teacher. Today, I let her go. She started school today.

I did all of my crying, grieving and letting go prior to today, and I woke up happy and at peace.  Mia was super excited and looked so cute wearing her new backpack, brown Converse shoes, and Peanuts t-shirt. I drove away from her school with calmness and peace, certain that we were on the right path.

Anna and I spent the day together, just the two of us.  We went to Silverwood Park and had a picnic lunch inside and did a little exploring outside.  She collected leaves and tried to match them up to pictures in her field guide of trees and leaves.  We shared a hot chai and looked at artwork in the gallery.  There was scribbling and “writing” and playing with my credit cards. And we did this all at Anna’s 3-year-old pace: quiet, gentle, slow.

I feel as if I am getting to know her for the first time today. It is both wonderful and painful.  I have missed so much, let so much pass me by.  Suddenly I am fully present; I am not overwhelmed.  I am not looking for an escape.  Under these conditions, my children are their best selves.  And so am I.

Oh yes, now I remember. This is what I love.

Release

Tears of relief run down my face.  The key I’ve been searching for most of my life is in my hand, and I am about to unshackle the chains that have held me down for decades.  How I found it, I am not sure.  The best way to explain it is that I have been seeking and asking to be guided, and suddenly I find myself in this new and strange place.

This is the place: where it is okay to be exactly who I am.  I don’t have to be perfect, I don’t have to bend over backwards to make everyone else’s life happy and perfect.  I can let go of my ideals and be happy with “good enough”.

As a result, Mia will be going to school.  Anna will be going to preschool.

This marks the end of nine wonderful, challenging, and fulfilling years of devoting myself completely to my children’s lives. From now on, I will be reaching out for help in raising my children.  I will trust that my children will be cared for and nurtured in the way that they need.  They will have other adults and children to enrich their lives. There will be a community for them, there will be opportunities that I cannot provide, there will be new relationships, and mostly, there will be space for me.

I will always be here for them; I am their home base.  But I will no longer be their “everything”.  And that brings a mixed bag of pain, relief, joy, and sorrow.  All good things come to an end. Children grow up.  Grown-ups grow up. The joys of my past will carry me; they will keep my heart warm and open for experiences and joys yet to come.

A day I would like to repeat. Every day.

Wednesday was direction-less, lazy, depressing, crabby, messy, bad-attitude day.

Then I had a pep-talk from my wonderful husband.

Thursday I had a new attitude and a new plan, and the day was almost perfect.

(It helped that my Mother’s Helper was in the kitchen for over 4 hours making multitudes of freezer meals!)

Things that happened on Thursday were:

I drank hot tea right away in the morning, took a shower, and took my morning supplements instead of lying in bed for 45 minutes fantasizing about sleeping more.

Fed something to the kids and myself, too. Almost right away–to prevent the low-blood sugar crash that normally happens.

Got the kitchen caught up and ready for Mother’s Helper cooking spree.

Did my first session of home-school curriculum with Mia and Anna. It was lovely.

Went for a long walk with the kids, each on her own bike.

Stayed calm and patient and did not yell at Anna all day.

Stayed away from the computer until after the kids were in bed.

Made muffins and no-bake cookies after kids went to bed–for the freezer in preparation for cabin camping this weekend.

Every day I have a choice.  Life is what I make it.

Today was my reminder.