Homeschooling has not completely lost it’s sparkle these days, but I am feeling the all encapsulating job that it is. Every. Single. Day.
I have my kids in classes, they have work and teachers and time that I am not “in charge” so to speak. But if I do not check all of that like a hawk, the productivity of those classes and work falls short. As a homeschool parent, you take on guilt for that that didn’t exist when they were in school. And then, you take a deep breath, and realize your decision to homeschool has a lot of good things that you never expected.
I get to sit on the couch with Tessa and practice reading. Not just for fun, but because I am the one teaching her, more rewarding than I thought.
I get to hang out with my kids and talk about all sorts of things. Some high points 1) conversations about how turkey vultures projectile vomit rotten meat 2) illustrating the captivity of the Israelites by the Chaldeans and drawing Zedekiah’s eyes gouged out 3) watching my kids paint their art projects. They stop, pause, and make calculated decisions that are so cool to witness.
It is also very lonely. I have made a choice, that choice is to be with my children and to make their education my top priority for my everyday. That means, no going and having coffee with friends the way I used to. Grocery shopping has to happen when the day has wound down. I have to plan special events and know that we might have to play catch up to keep up, sometimes. I know I have some time left to figure it all out. I these are all choices I have made. For myself. If I get upset about these choices: I have a pity party. I take a step back . Sometimes, I’m mad all day. I go outside and gaze off into nowhere and wonder when I will feel freedom, will my choices really ever help me feel freer. I don’t know. It is my full-time job. I sometimes feel I am no fun to talk to because it is my full-time job, and it’s a “crazy” one that I could easily let someone else do. I could go back to shopping in the middle of the day, having coffee with friends, making art, offering myself to the outside world in forms of service, a listening ear, helping hands. Maybe I could even get a job! (gasp) I feel like I am belittling the time that those who send their children to school have. For that, I apologize. The school day is really not very long. I used to accomplish squat with a three year old at home with me and both big kids at school. Squat. I also used to be able to watch TV. My TV shows, by myself.
Ah, yes. I’ll stop . These days are not for me. I have seen and felt troubling things these past year and a half of homeschooling. These things show my true colors. I have been full of anxiety, fear and finger-pointing. I have raised my voice more that I ever wanted to. And when my voice is that loud, 85% of the time, I make no sense. I can’t believe that I am scolding children for behavior that I exhibit myself. These days are not mine! I will have days when my children are independent, when my nest is empty. I will have coffee, I will be a listening ear, I will delight in other peoples younger children and be thankful that that season has past, just a little bit thankful. I will make art, and have a job. God has made me a very productive person. I have to learn the art of relaxation and sitting down. I won’t ever stop working. Those opportunities will come again, just like each season comes and goes. I look forward to new forms of busy! Right now, that busy, is for my kids. I get to be with them, the good-bad-and ugly (and there’s a lot of ugly). I get to be “in charge”, which terrifies a little bit every day. I pull myself out of that pit, because God is good, and I put one foot in front of the other.
And then, there’s another part of the fun season of homeschooling. I get to teach other people’s kids! I have the unique part-time job of being an art teacher for homeschooled students. I have been teaching at Hilger Higher learning for 7 years. On one of the only days I leave my house and am part of the outside world, I take two of my three kids with me, and I am surrounded by a few dozen other children and talk about and make art. I love doing that part. There are some kiddos that have one-of-a-kind personalities that make me bug eyed with amazement at how entertaining or challenging they might be, but most of the time these kids are just like everyone else. I have the unique opportunity of having children come to me because they want to take art classes. They are there to learn what I know. It is awesome, and exhausting. The preparation and the cleaning up wrecks me pretty often. I am squeezing out time between teaching my own kids and helping them work, and preparing the lesson and all the trappings for the next class, as well as trying to have a relaxing weekend with my family. I procrastinate, and there’s the rub. I have decided that I will no longer be an art teacher that says “no” all the time. You want more blue paint? You want to get glue and paint out? You want a 5th piece of paper? You want 6 paint brushes? Yes, do it. I want each little artist to know how to use what they have and also learn how to take care of it all, so I like saying yes, but I also like showing how to take care of all things. This means I have to be prepared to go all the way. I must have enough of everything, I must be willing to run out. I must be willing to be on hands and knees picking up the creativity off the floor. This is what their parents pay for, and this is what I want to say yes to. Make, do, create. I’ll sleep it all off tomorrow. And yet, I actually used the phrase “I ain’t yer mama” to some 9th grade girls for not cleaning up there space this week. Tee-hee!
Teaching teaching teaching. It is a mission field. I have to remind myself that the more I am prepared and the more I am willing to shift, change, reboot, whatever, the more these young ones will learn. I am strict. I have rules and respect that I expect from my children and my art students. I have seen my ugly in both places and I want to give the respect back too. I have made choices and I choose everyday to keep making them. And I keep my heart open for the time that the Lord asks me to let it go, shift and change again.