I’ve felt a lot like giving up lately. It’s hard to write that. As a person who believes in positive thinking, in seeing the best in every situation, I don’t like myself when I’m feeling defeated. February was just a tough month, for many reasons. The weather’s been terrible, cold and bleak. A close friend of mine was killed in a car accident, leaving behind a husband and three young children. We are just so, so sad for the family’s loss. And our own; she was a great friend. Grief affects every part of your life, and things I ordinarily would cope with smoothly are jarring and jagged. I’ve been buried in bookkeeping and under a time crunch, and homeschooling? Well, let’s just say that if I could quit, I would. The kids have been bucking me at every turn when it comes to getting their work done, and then there was a bit of a kerfluffle over report cards (we are enrolled with a distance learning school, and the teachers make sure what we do complies with provincial education standards). And I miss painting when things get busy like this and I can’t escape to a fresh sheet of watercolour paper and a palette of juicy pigment.
As my kids get older, I am realizing what people say about parenting getting harder. Sometimes it’s hard to imagine that I looked forward to their learning to communicate, as I spend so much of my day attempting to model and teach respect in tone and content of speech. I had no idea that my children would be so good at minding other people’s business! And that’s just in their relationships with each other. When it comes to dealing with their mother, especially when I am in the role of educator, it’s often a battle of wills and manipulation. The strategies they will resort to in when they don’t want to work (or don’t think they can understand a concept), they would never even try if it were a non-family member teaching them. Tears, blame, throwing of pencils, gnashing of teeth; it’s all in the arsenal when work is on the line.
I hear you thinking, “Then why homeschool? You’re just making work for yourself.” And it is work. I vented to my husband the other night after the worst day ever, telling him how frustrating things were, and how disrespected I felt, and how I had told the kids that if things didn’t improve by the end of this school year that I would not be teaching them again. They like homeschooling, so it does help to remind them that we need to work together for this to work. But after pouring out my heart to Wade, I had to acknowledge that our problem is not a homeschooling problem. Homeschooling is not the bad guy here. Even if my kids were in school 7 hours a day, these behavioural issues that arise in our home would remain; we might be confronting them less often, but that doesn’t make them any less real. I will still try to control them (and I confess that sometimes our family issues come out of my tendency to be dictatorial), and they will still fight authority. I should be thankful that in being at home together full time, we have a limitless span of opportunity for teaching and demonstrating respect, cooperation, patience and all those other character traits that, when properly developed, will help my children function peaceably in society. It’s a brutal ton of work, and it’s easy to feel defeated at this stage when these qualities are so lacking (and I’m so woefully aware of my own shortcomings in these areas as they are tested at every turn), but we keep working at it, because it is so important, and really, I have no choice. Because whether or not we homeschool from K – grade 12, I won’t quit at parenting.
Thanks for listening to my outpourings – it’s been a better week so far (last week was awful) and we are getting a handle on some of the work that needs to get done around here. And I’ve got a nasty head cold that’s helping me take things a little more easily around here. Missing my friend, but thankful for the example she left of love for family & friends and enthusiasm for life.