Thursday, March 27, 2014

A title?

  I'm a mom. A wife. And I spend a great deal of my waking/breathing/thinking time concerned with educating my kids.  In my executive capacity that those occupations entail, I also function as an accountant, strategic planner, forecaster, designer, tailor, chef (sometimes), cook (the rest of the time), short order cook (when I forget to plan our days strategically), financial wizard, janiorial superviser, homework overseer, chauffeur, driver training instructor, idea generator and implementor (who heavily relies on my husband for both tasks!), computer overlord, scheduler.  

Did I mention I have an increasing tendency toward forgetfulness?  Yeah, I use TWO planners.  One to see where I've been and one to make sure I don't forget future plans.

I'm sure I've forgotten half the things I do.  Like laundry.  Which I happen to enjoy.  Unlike de-cluttering. Yuck.

Here's my beef. After ignoring many invites to Linked In, I finally created a profile.  Actually, I think it's the second time I've done it, but I have no record of what my ID or email may have been back in that early sleep-deprivation time of mothering small children.  I don't honestly care either.

What really bothers me is how many other homeschooling moms feel it is important to have an important sounding title.  The two titles I most wanted back in my outside-the-home-paycheck-receiving career days were Wife and Mother.  I've had to give on Mother; my kids call me Mom but essentially it's the same thing.  The paycheck could jump ship.  

At first I wanted to come up with something equally important, but they felt like fraudulent titles and waaaay too limiting.  

Because I remember how bored I got at work with an important sounding title of Business Systems Analyst.  Same thing day in and day out.  There were parts I enjoyed and parts that were stodgy.  

Kind of like now.

Like when I really don't want to explain that math concept ONE MORE TIME! Or dinner. 

Or grade that economics paper that for some ridiculous reason, I thought was important to assign.  Something about making them think and research a pertinent topic.

But you know what?  That's what I signed up to do.  That's what every mom signed up to do.  Okay, maybe not grade the paper, but I know my mother certainly helped me work through many assignments!

When I had that title, I never felt that what I did would matter in two years.  I yearned to do something that mattered.

Now it matters, and sometimes I wish it didn't matter so much.  

The reality is that no matter who presides over the government, and no matter what state society or the economy finds itself, I'll never be out of a job.  When my kids are grown and gone, I'll STILL be their mother.  I'll still be a wife--(sorry Jim, you're stuck.  You made an eternal contract.)  

So my title on LinkedIn isn't very fancy.  It's pretty plain and wraps up what I spend most of my time doing.  I'm a mom.  And for the unimaginative, I've added Homeschooler.  

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Is it enough?

Hi!  It's me again.  Still homeschooling for a little bit longer.  Still grateful I have the opportunity to do so.  Still condemning myself because I don't/haven't always done it right.

Yesterday I read about a woman who lost custody of her child to his father.  The claim was that she did not attend to the boy as she should have, spending far too long visiting on the telephone and taking naps while the boy watched TV, and the like.  My heart broke.

Maybe she really was a terrible mom.  Maybe.  Maybe not.  Maybe the father has been making her life miserable and she needed support from others.  Maybe she was worn out.  How did the courts get this information?  It sounds like she may have been critically watched.  Wouldn't that be stressful to you?  I certainly cannot imagine living through that, and I think everyone has seen some nasty, nasty, hurtful custody fights.

At any rate, the story made me think about the past 17 years.  About how exhausted, stressed, and worn out I frequently felt.  How some days the best I could do was find a decent movie about something educational and shove it in the VCR and take a nap so I didn't yell and scream and rant at my kids.  Other days were stellar.  We did experiments and made quantum leaps in history and read story after story after story.  I lived in fear that my neighbors would learn my secret:  That I was a terrible mother.

I've been a mother long enough now to know that I probably compared my worst days to others' best days and imagined that those were their "typical" days.  I also know that there are some marvelous mothers who hold it together.  There are marvelous mothers with family close by who help out too.  I had a supportive family 2000 miles away.

I also know my kids love home and family.  I know that there are things that they understand well and some that they don't.  I know that there are some things I should have been more consistent about teaching . . . and wasn't.  I know there were things I taught superbly and they remember.  There were other things I taught superbly and they didn't grasp.  I know there were because one of my children always grasped it when the others did not.

I wish I had stayed in a superb co-op in Springfield instead of leaving prematurely because I thought we wouldn't be there very far into the year.  We ended up being there long enough that we could have completed another year.

I wish I had stayed with the math curriculum that worked instead of straying (and losing monumental amounts of time) to other programs.  I needed to take a couple of months off, not switch. But that is part of the "Live and Learn" mantra, I guess.

Most of all, I wish I had been more patient and allowed things to take as long as they needed to take, which in some subjects may have been a couple of years.  I wish I had understood that was okay.

I wish I had not allowed "others" (who are they anyway?) pressure me into feeling like my children had to be superstars because they were homeschooled.  Yes, there are some who turn out to be genius physicists (like Einstein), but then again, he only excelled in science, Latin, and music.  Literature and history?  Not so much.  We don't know exactly why he left school in Germany, just that he was disruptive to others.

Why does any child (meaning any student, any age) have to be an expert in everything, whether homeschooled, private, or public schooled?  That's ridiculous.  I think that's the problem in our society.  We have to have everyone excel, and if they can't all excel at everything, then everyone has to be mediocre.  How else do you explain the necessity for top scores in all classes, with very little variance in what classes are chosen, if the student wants to attend the best colleges or receive scholarships?  That's crazy.  Some can do it, yes, but where did our biggest advances in any field come from?  Probably people like Einstein.

So, yes, I allowed myself to be guilted into thinking I wasn't, and never could be, enough.  My house wasn't clean enough, my lessons not interesting enough, my children weren't learning enough.  In short, we were not enough.  I wonder how many mothers feel that way, homeschoolers or otherwise?  This is still a constant battle for me.  (And no, I don't have as clean of a house as my mother does, but I may never have that. It's clean enough to be livable with one room that is a disaster.)

The reality is that I am enough with the Savior.  He is enough, and He knows I have tried.  He knows my heart; he knows yours too.  Sometimes I have tried and failed.  Sometimes I've tried and tried and kept on failing, and finally bagged it and decided that thing wasn't important, for now anyway.  And some of those bite me now and make me think, "If only I had persisted."  Yes, and I may have thrown my children out the window too.  Their well being was more important so we changed our attention to other things.

There will always be more to learn.  A book my nephew recommended several years ago just arrived in the mail today.  I finally bought it.  It's actually a text for younger students, but it's fascinating.  It reads like a storybook but goes deeper than a surface story.  It digs into science from the angle of stories of the scientists.  I haven't even introduced it to my kids yet, but I've already been drawn into it.  I have NO idea how I'm going to use it, but somehow I hope I can.  We're specifically studying Biology right now so the study of physics doesn't exactly mesh, but we still have time.  Even if we don't, they have a lifetime to read it themselves.

I pulled out the books I consider to be classics that I think might interest my kids and found it made several stacks, all of which I've read at some point.  I think it's time to reread some now.  So maybe home schooling is really about educating Mom anew and then naturally retell it as it fits into our studies and into our days.  Maybe education is really about students finding out how much there is to know and getting interested enough to keep after it for the rest of their lives.

So. . . what about the woman who lost custody and the father who gained it?  I don't know.  Way too little information.  Maybe she was a drug addict too.  But I've been the mom to two way-too-active little boys before with a little girl to care for too.  I know how difficult it is to make things make sense when you still deal with hyperactive issues well into the teen years.  I've known the frustrations of trying to cope with a husband gone on business most of the time.  I understand.  I wish I'd had a friend I could have chatted with for support on the phone because I often couldn't leave the house.  I've planted my kids in front of Aladdin while I took the dog for a walk because I needed a breath of fresh air ALONE.  I CRAVED silence sometimes.  (Not all the time, obviously, because public school was always an option.)  At times, I sent my kids to public school because pressures were building too high and then brought them home again because the stress went even higher.  I don't have child geniuses in every area, some gifts in certain areas, but certainly not in all.  Maybe that's the hardest piece of all, the realization that we weren't perfect.

Mostly I wanted to scream at the judge and the father about what incredibly hypocritical jerks they were being.  Where in the world was the father in all of this?  Was he just focused on getting custody or was he really and truly interested in providing the best possible care for his child?  He was probably withholding child support, whether that was emotional support for the mother or physical support in terms of money, it doesn't matter. Both cause insane stress. One of those was probably missing, but we'll never know.  I've had friends with similar situations like that where the father has created a living he** for the mother.

There is a possibility, however, that the mother really was a lazy, inept woman who spent all her time complaining and pampering herself.  I've known some like that too.  Then again, maybe neither parent has it totally together, but they were bent on ruining each others' lives.  That happens too.  Or any of a number of other possibilities. We'll never really know though.  There simply wasn't enough information including information about the state of their hearts. God knows though and one day we'll all know.

As for me, I keep plodding.  I've grown up alongside my children.  Sometimes I refer to one or another for a fact check because they remember some things better than me.  Sometimes I seek help from other professionals.  Sometimes I wish I could have had those professionals in our lives sooner.  Is it enough?  I pray so and I'm ever so grateful I don't have a hateful father or neighbor to contend against--especially the times when I was at my weakest.  We're finishing strong now and for that I'm also thankful.  We've survived the tremendous growth of the last 18 years, and I think our family is stronger for it.

We aren't done, but the path is clear enough.  It's never totally clear, and it's a mistake to expect that.  Life is a test; it the path was always clear, it wouldn't be much of a test, would it?

Monday, January 13, 2014

Help! I lost a website

I need some help today.  Once upon a time I used a worksheet creator for math problems, all kinds.  It was a free site where you could custom what problems you were working on.  I thought I mentioned them here, but I can't find ANY mention of it.  I used it a lot, but it has been years since we have done any drillwork.  Does anyone still read this that might have any idea of what website that was?  Thank you for your suggestions!