It’s Our First Day of Homeschool!

Today is our first day of homeschool!

I started entertaining the idea at the beginning of the year when my frustration with the public school system reached an all-time high. But I’m not a stay-at-home-mama yet, so I had serious doubts about being able to homeschool and work. It felt impossible, and I thought I’d be judged harshly for doing things a certain way. By whom, I’m not sure. I’m being very transparent right now. It was just an irrational fear, and I’ll be the first to tell you that most of our fears are irrational.

I knew I had to do something though, so I made a Facebook post to get feedback from my network. As expected, my Facebook peeps came through. I got everything from “I wish I could!” to I do/did it, but not while working” to “Try private school or a different school district.” I even received offers for consultations. And while all were meant to be helpful and taken as such, my heart began sliding into despair as I read through the comments. What I wanted to know was “Is it possible? Can I homeschool while being a working mom?”

Wait.

Scratch that. Let me rephrase.

I needed to know, to be told, that I could do it. That someone else had done it, no matter how hard it was. My spirit needed that. I could take it from there.

I joined a local homeschool group on Facebook that someone had suggested. Then I listened to this podcast. It changed my whole perspective and validated everything I’d been thinking and feeling regarding homeschooling and my son’s education. Suddenly, I knew I could do it. I knew it was the best thing to do. And I determined that we would begin homeschooling in the upcoming school year. I began researching homeschooling methods, unschooling, curriculums, etc. I joined a bunch of homeschool groups so I could begin friending other homeschooling families and stay in the know.

I’m going to be honest here. I work. During the day. Outside of my home. I own a small business, and it pays the bills. I’m also a single parent. I will have to be strategic about how I manage my time and take on clients. I don’t know how I would do this if I had a regular 9-5, but knowing myself, I would make a plan and a way. My son’s education and life are that important. That brings me to why I decided to homeschool in the first place.

Academics

Quite simply, traditional schools are ill-equipped to meet my son’s academic needs. It took me awhile to realize this. Growing up, I excelled in school because the environment and the methods were conducive to my learning style. I had pretty good memory recall. My grandmother used to say I had the memory of an elephant. I was a great test taker. I loved to read and write, and that’s how I learned. School was a breeze for me! It was reading, writing, and test taking. Straight As and honor roll! Great! I was always praised for this, as though it was something I’d done. I used to say, “All I did was study. Anyone can be ‘smart’ if they study.” And while that is true, I never realized that traditional ways of teaching and study methods catered to my style of learning. . . .until my son came along. My son is very intelligent. But he learns differently. Even with wraparound services, which I feel were poorly executed and maintained, it wasn’t good enough. I don’t entirely blame the school. the whole system is flawed. Teachers and students are casualties of that system.

Bullying

The bullying problem was out of control, and seemingly out of my control. My son has been bullied for three years straight, and despite encouraging him to tell me and his teachers so that we can make it stop, what he’s learned is that no one can make it stop. As a parent, it’s such a bad feeling to not be able to protect your child. What’s worse is experiencing an erosion of trust between you and your child due to your seeming inability to protect him. That alone is worth homeschooling.

Identity & Control

There’s very little cultural representation and zero reinforcement of self-identity. My son told me that there are no brown people in his history lessons. Imagine going through six hours of study everyday and never seeing yourself represented, while also being teased about your hair (even by kids who look like you, which is a whole other issue).

Not to mention, public schools guard children like dogs against their own parents. I never was sure if they were guarding the children or the classrooms. I’ve never been comfortable with that.

When I realized how stressful it was for me to advocate for my son’s education and safety, I began to question why I was even waiting to withdraw him. Yesterday, I kept my son home and sent a withdrawal email to his principal and a few other key staff. His principal responded in acknowledgement and simultaneously put a crack in my heart. Somewhere deep down I was hoping that I’d have to check in with the school verbally to verify that the withdrawal email was received.

Just a month ago, I’d sent an email to the principal and attached two voice clips of a conversation I’d secretly recorded between my son and me, regarding the bully situation at his school. I knew my son wouldn’t have been so open if he’d known he was being recorded. In the email, I also included details of an incident of bullying that he’d told me happened that very same day and expressed my concern for his safety. I ended requesting a scheduled appointment. I have not received a response to that email.

A week or so after the email, I went up to the school and asked the administrator to have the principal call me at his earliest convenience to schedule an appointment. I never received a phone call. So to receive a response to the withdrawal email within hours. . . .deeply saddened and disappointed me. It also reaffirmed that I made the right decision.

Welcome home, Son.

Mom Enough

how to feel like a good enough parent

 

Being a mother is one of the scariest, most challenging, most fun, nerve-wrecking, most beautiful + amazing, most awesome, most demanding, sometimes confusing, most sacrificial, most prayer-warranted, most selfless, most rewarding jobs/roles there is.

To all the moms out there who have already raised children, I honor you. It is NO SMALL FEAT to maneuver another human being (let alone several) from infancy to adulthood with no handbook, with a nurturing spirit, with care and constant prayer, with concern, with joy, with devotion. . . .and to release your greatest work into the world and hope that they are received well.

To my sisters, my friends, and to all the mothers who are currently raising children: I salute you for attempting this mom life every day without the handbook that we all wish we had and ending each day somehow (sometimes) with your sanity intact (or wondering exactly how sane you are).

Today, more than ever before, there is a push to have the best-dressed, most intelligent, well-spoken, well-rounded, kidpreneur-in-fourth-grade, ivy league-accepted-in-kindergarten, billionaire-by-25 children. And some days it’s all you can do to get them in the tub by 8 p.m. and to bed by 10 p.m. Give yourself GRACE, celebrate yourself today, and allow what you can do today to be enough.

 

On Loss and Feeling Lost

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If you follow me on Facebook, you know that I’m really big on relationships- all kinds.  The most important relationships are family -whether blood-related or chosen- and family relationships can be. . . .complicated.  I wasn’t planning to get this deep so soon on my blog, but here it is.  It happened.

On Monday, my granny passed away.

I knew it was a possibility, but I wasn’t expecting it.  She’d been in nursing homes and residential care homes for awhile now.  Because of limited mobility she needed round-the-clock physical care.  However, as a retired school teacher, her mind was still as sharp as a whip.  I would go and visit her and take my son, too.  I have no pictures, because I live in the moment and hardly ever think to document my every waking moment with photos.  I wish I had.  I nor my son will have any visuals to look back on and remember our time with her.  But we do have memories.

Memories of going to sit with her and just keep her company for an hour or two.  She would send me to get her food and/or snacks because she didn’t like what the nurses prepared for lunch or dinner.

I have memories of going to visit her when she still lived independently.  I would drive an hour to go see her and do her hair. She would always say, “I like your hair.  I want mine like that.  Can you make it look like yours?”  Her hair was thinning, but I’d experiment with twistouts using Carol’s Daughter (her favorite) products or flexirods to get her the natural curly look she wanted.

I have a few unpleasant memories as well. I choose not to talk about those today.  What I do want to address is how all this has affected me in the hopes that it moves someone else, helps someone on their healing journey, or provide clarity for someone in their own familial relationship(s).

Despite the memories I shared above, my granny and I were not close.  Not by a long shot.  The story isn’t unique.  This granny is my dad’s mom, and I didn’t grow up with them in my life.  It wasn’t until I moved to Texas six years ago that I began cultivating a relationship with her.  I’d only known her for a few years, and all my visits up until that point were dutiful.  Once I moved closer and saw that age was taking its toll (plus I’d done some maturing), I decided to begin genuinely building a connection with her.  And I did just that.  I put 28 years of history (as much of it as I could) behind me, because family matters.  And although she is my blood kin, I still had to choose her.

And I did.  My visits were less dutiful, but we all know relationships take work, some more than others.  I knew I would have to actively and intentionally confront and overcome my apathy and lack of urgency where this relationship was concerned.  The bond we formed was rewarding.  Nevertheless, even after six years, I was keenly aware of the effort it took on my part to maintain.  Add to that my busy life and the distance (always at least 40 minutes drive).  It’s been months since I’ve seen her.  So when I saw my brother’s number flashing on my screen after 9 p.m., I knew.

Even so, hearing those words hit me hard.  I’d planned to visit her this weekend.  Now, I’ll never get another opportunity to see her alive, and it hurts.  Logically, there’s this (still) disconnected part of me that feels bad that I hadn’t gotten around to a visit before she passed.  Kind of like that old classmate you kept meaning to phone or send an email to.  Emotionally, I’m hurt.  She was still my granny and I chose her.  Chose to get as close as I did.  I’m not sure what to do with these feelings or where to place them.  While I KNOW I would go to visit her sooner if given another chance, I still can’t say that it would be an urgent matter for me.  And that hurts, too.  I didn’t choose the history (or lack thereof) I have with my granny any more than I could choose the effect it’s had on me.  What I always had a choice in was my own actions.  I held myself to that.  I just wonder if I did the best I could.