Life is never what I expect it to be. I look back on all those things I thought would happen and just don't see any of them there. You see, I thought my life would progress a certain way. I was sure that I would meet certain milestones at certain times. I was even more positive of things that I would and would not do in my life. I was incredibly wrong.
Two years ago I began homeschooling. I began this after trashing homeschoolers, saying I could never do it, and even writing a thesis paper on how public schools were so much better than homeschooling. Yup...was not going to homeschool. If I was ever put into the position where I would "have" to, I was certain I would go to jail. Not for truancy, but for murder of three minors!
However, God had a different plan. In spite of my fears, doubts and lack of knowledge (and the fears and doubts of many I love and respect), I pulled my kids out of public school and sent in my notice of intent to homeschool in New Mexico. New Mexico promptly washed its hands of me. I was on my own.
I remember thinking there needs to be more discipline in homeschooling. After all, kids went to public school for 8 hours a day...mine kids would school for the same amount of time. I remember thinking school work would be done at their desks, which my parents so kindly got us for Christmas. I remember thinking that I would become "Teacher" and "Mom" would go away until after school was done. I remember thinking a lot!
I remember never thinking about sibling relations and the fights that go with that. I remember not even considering the issue of creativity and boredom. I remember never doubting that I was smart enough to do this...and then we actually began schooling.
The first year sucked. I'm not sure how we got through it. I'm not sure how we are all still alive, because I have no doubt that many a meeting took place in the back yard with my kids. I have no doubt they were planning my untimely demise. I myself plotted ways to dispose of bodies. (I love watching CSI...so many tips, right?) There were fights. Fights among brother and sister, sister and sister, mother and son, mother and daughter, mother and mother (yeah, you read that right...I fought with myself). There were days I threatened to ground MYSELF just so I could have some alone time and quiet. There were other days I said screw it and we just didn't do anything that day.
I cried a lot that first year. My kids cried a lot that first year. I can't think of anything good about that first year.
Except...Katie learned to be creative and bold again. David learned that it is actually important for people to be able to read what he writes. Emily thrived under the challenge of learning beyond her grade level. Katie learned that tests do not have to be feared. David learned that it's ok to read books. Emily learned it's alright to be smart. Yeah...nothing good happened that year.
We have two months left of schooling this year. I'm not counting down or anything...just reminding myself that we really do need to finish up this grade level eventually (sooner rather than later would be nice). As I look around my house I see the things I SWORE I would not allow. I see my kids art work on all the walls. I see Mars colony plans, and laundry baskets of unfolded clothes. I see a scarred dining room table with hand written letters waiting to be mailed, a canvas painting, and a white board with a geography lesson on it. I see school desks with half finished art projects, graded papers, trophies and who knows what else on them. I see dust and finger prints, toys and...and learning. I see my children's pride in what they are doing. I see their gratitude that I think what they are doing is worth tacking up on walls, leaving on a desk to be finished, or even worth leaving chores undone so something else can be learned.
I still don't know if I'm doing this right. I still worry and still get frustrated and still debate if going back to "real school" would be better for them. I still listen to the concerns of those I love and respect and doubt my ability to do what is best. Then I look around my house and see my kids. I see my son researching WWII planes. I see my oldest daughter creating works of HER art. I see my youngest daughter dragging out the Bible to voluntarily read to me...you know, the kid who swears she can't read? I see improvements in math and spelling and handwriting. I see joy during science experiments, and I hear three children going out of their way to help each other learn.
So, for those of you out there who face those same fears and doubts, for those of you fighting back tears and screams of rage and frustration...don't worry. You aren't alone. Take a deep breath and just get through today. Tomorrow is a whole 'nother kettle of fish and it will only give you a headache to think about it. Look around your house and find the good things...even if they are buried under dishes and laundry and little bit of blood from that last fight between siblings. I think we are all doing better than we think we are.
Or at least I sincerely hope so!