Prior to home educating my children, I was shocked that others would do this. I even said a few negative comments about home schoolers as a young teacher within the school system myself. When I felt gentle nudges to consider this journey, I researched it extensively for quite a few years. Then when I experienced a particular strong leading that I could not ignore, it had me up awake for an entire night wrestling with God over the situation. For one, I felt skittish about doing something, perhaps yet another thing that was a bit "different" than others and I desired to please people at that time. Possibly I was living more in order to not make waves, but at the very least I needed to learn the lesson of following the Light more than other’s expectations. It wasn’t an easy choice, but soon became a real joy and passion of mine. It was truly just a one year experiment.
So here I am eight years later, still home educating 2 of our 3 children and I realize that some of my happiest years have been when I was teaching all 3 children together. This year is different though and I’m feeling beyond tired and a little bit down. I’m trying to determine why some of my spark and joy is snuffed out and have taken a longer than normal winter break to do so and rest. I’m also doing a study written by a friend Marsha, entitled Sufficient Grace for Home-School Moms. It’s a 40 Day devotional/journal study and it is helping me think on things and recharge my battery a bit so I’ve included her book and link from this site as it may encourage others along the way.
I’ve never focussed so much on being a teacher to the children, but more of a guide for them in their studies and this has never felt like a chore. I was never one to wish our learning time was over for the day, but rather notoriously like a big kid that could not wait for a new day to begin again when it was. Some days now I am looking at the clock and that bothers me, as learning to us has been a life style rather than a clanging bell that rings when the day is done.
I think my answer is plain old chronic pain. The kind of pain that is uncontrolled and zapping my excitement of life as it limits my ability to talk and read and I’ve recently developed all sorts of facial and neck pain. Also, I am missing our Five in a Row days, Ambleside and the countless D’Aulaire and Holling C Holling books read under blankets regardless of how we’ve flexibly made this year work for us. I’m sad about loosing some of the spontaneity that comes along with being more physically able and trotting off for the day or diving into extremely messy art or science projects. I long to hear the laughter like when we made relief maps out of clay and built puppet stages. Now it is winter and I yearn for the days of roasting marshmallows and making s’mores while we do our studies. I miss pretending we are from other countries and eating ethnic foods and taking time out to bake cookies. Frankly I am mad I am too tired to clean all that mess up and that I can’t eat all those foods. So, basically in a nut shell, I am having a pitty party. I am being a selfish child who wants to teach a certain way and am not getting my way due to illness. As much as I try to do this chronic illness gracefully, it still really has the potential to cramp my style and challenge me to move toward acceptance. I clearly need a heart attitude adjustment.
The more I think about it, the more I realize I need to take a lesson from my former special needs students. I need to dwell on what I can do and not what I cannot do. I also need to set realistic goals according to my abilities and not think so grandiose all the time because I habitually do that and set myself up for failure. I think I need to be content with missing my son with us and just cherish the memories of his messing up our math time by throwing m&m candy at us and just accept our new direction. I also need to take a lesson from my own daughters who seem to be content and just wish to learn together still. So I will brace myself for continued change, watch the girls gain further independence and make the memories we can now. We will listen to more audio books and have the girls take turns reading a loud under quilts. February will bring The Great Backyard Bird Count, which is an annual production here that we all look forward to. Just maybe we will have a few surprise snow days with sledding where I can put my feet up and relax. I guess that’s the point of all this talking in circles. I just need to relax and go with the flow of time and reality a bit. Who knows, perhaps my immune-suppressants will kick in good enough that when spring comes and the peepers call I will be able to do the pond stomping once again.