Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Home Schooling: Learning to Live With Doubt

There was that one question I had never heard anyone else ever voice; the one question that I found myself asking with more frequency.  Is homeschooling the right choice for me?  Wait, wait….homeschooling isn’t about ME, the parent.  It’s about her, the child!  It’s doing what is best for HER.  That is after all what we moms (or dads, if that’s the case) are programmed to do, right?  We do whatever it is that is best for our children – at least the best we can given our current understanding of what is best.  Wow.  That’s a mouthful of a thought, but I think I’m digressing.

I ‘spoke’ about it briefly on my facebook page, the doubts we face as homeschoolers.  I was referring to not just the doubts we have about if we are doing the right thing for our children, but also to the doubts that I, at least, have about if being a homeschooling parent is right for ME.  I thought perhaps I was alone in wondering about that, but the fans showed me I wasn’t.  Even those who didn’t experience the same doubts understood why others could.  In many ways it’s a story old, but true:  homeschooling parents are nothing (relatively) new.  I don’t think there is one among us today or from all the days gone by that don’t have moments of doubt.  Are we teaching them enough?  Are they learning enough?  Are we using the right curriculum?  Is it right to not use curriculum?  Is the method we use right for them?  Oh, on and on….the questions that run through our brains are endless in their variety, I’m sure.

Posting the query on the Inappropriate Homeschooler’s facebook page was the first time I’d ever expressed that doubt out loud. Oh, there had been times when I had hinted around the question with things like, “I’m not sure I’m the right one to be teaching her”, or “Some days are so hard, I feel like homeschooling may not be the right path for us.”  THOSE sort of comments were acceptable amongst the homeschoolers, I knew, because everyone expressed those types of thoughts here and there, now and again.  Those doubts were always met with the sort of pats on the back and shows of encouragement that we all need from time to time to get us over a bump in the road or through a rough patch.  Those doubts merely expressed our concerns over are adequacy as teachers, homeschooling parents, learning coaches, whatever we call ourselves.  Those were normal, acceptable, and even expected from time to time.
That’s not what I was talking about though.  I was talking about how I had dreams of a life I wanted to live – that I was living – when I got bit by the ‘have a baby bug’.  As a side note, I was bite very late in life by that bug.  Up until age 33 I never had any interest or desire to have a child.  NEVER.  I certainly didn’t expect to get bit by the bug shortly after turning 33 and getting pregnant 1 month later.  I was thrilled, of course!  Honestly.  Not just lip service.  I have delighted in Punky from the moment she looked into my eyes and there is nothing I love in this world the same way I love her.  I kept her out of public school for Kindergarten because I was not yet ready to deal with having her away from me all day…..and she has a late birthday so she was turning 6 a short time after school started that year.  She was the age most are when they head off to 1st grade!  To stay my sadness at having her gone all day for 1st grade, I was the room mother.  I was at the school two or three days a week, at least, and doing all sorts of stuff for her teacher and the class!  I loved it.  I did.  She loved it!

Once 2nd grade rolled around though, I was fully prepared to ‘get back to my adult life’.  I was beginning to look for interesting employment outside the home and I was writing again in hopes to get back into freelance work.  Hubby was deployed at the time so I had all day to make my plans and pursue these dreams.  As frequent readers know, we didn’t make it through October of Punky’s 2nd grade year before we pulled her and began homeschooling.  I put away my dreams again, and dived into learning how to homeschool.

It’s not that I question the rightness of homeschooling every day.  But, I do question it at times.  I no longer worry or have doubts about homeschooling being the right choice for Punky!  While it is true I do still worry over if I’m doing enough for her in her educational journey, I know homeschooling is right.  I am not a patient person.  I have control issue in some areas.  I am a fairly selfish person.  I want what I want when I want in the manner I want it.  If I want to read, I want to go read.  If I want to get laundry done, I want to get it done.  If I want to watch a show, I want to watch a show.  If I want Chinese for dinner, I make (ok, get) Chinese.  But having children doesn’t lend itself all that well to ‘getting what I want, the way I want it, the moment I want it’.  Homeschooling is a lot of wonderful things. A LOT.  But it also puts me back in the role of ‘full time parent’. 

That sounds horrible doesn’t it?  **Nodding**  I know.  But it’s honest and I think it is the truth.  Public schoolers send their kids off to that institution five days a week for all day and while that doesn’t stop them from being parents, it isn’t an immediate parental role they assume during those five days.  That is not true for the homeschooling parent.  And, for the homeschooling parent, who had dreams of stepping back out into the world and pursuing her own dreams, especially when facing a particularly difficult day, week, or month in homeschooling those dreams seem to beckon or even taunt.  It may just be me.  Nonetheless, this doubt has been pressing at me with more frequency than usual.
 I wonder if it isn’t the upcoming deployment of hubby that is making the doubts more regular and pressing.  I will be alone with Punky every day for 365 days without any immediate, present support from hubby.  There won’t be that break in the day when we call out “Daddy’s home, Daddy’s home!”.  There won’t be those extra set of hands to help in any way, especially for those situations where I can’t seem to get Punky to understand something and so Daddy steps in to help.  It’s now that I find myself wondering, if she got on the bus each morning and I went off to my work would coming together in the evening be better?  We would have all day away from each other and so there’s less chance of getting on each other’s nerves and without having Daddy coming home to break up the day, I fear there will be a lot more ‘getting on each other's nerves’ in the coming year.

There’s not a darn thing I can do about that aspect though.  He is deploying in less than a month and that, as they say, is that.  So, now to figure out what to do with all the other doubts I have………and in the meantime, learn to live with them.  I do believe this requires continued faith on my part; trusting that I am where I am meant to be and that the Universe is unfolding as it should – no matter how messy or chaotic it appears.  Perhaps that's the only answer there ever is:  Learning to Live with the Doubt - until Certainly presents itself.

~Mari B.


  1. You are far from alone in this thought. I, like you, feel the same way most of the time. I know it would NOT be in the best interests of my kids, but sometimes I envy the PS parents...and I want to get together for a cup of coffee and a pedicure! If you find a way to get out of this train of thought, let us know! :)

  2. Thank you for your honesty. I have days like that. Where it would be great to just get a break. Can you find a co-op for Punky? One where you could get 2-3 hours to yourself? You're going to need that. There's NO way you can be your child's only source of interaction for 24/7/7 days a week. YOU do need some you time. (((HUGS)))

  3. I swear I *just* saw this the other day...."If you have to choose between work and your children...choose your children. In a few years you will have plenty of time to work, and no children." It's a brief few years that we get to spend with our children. Try to embrace it as a temporary gig. :)

  4. "(or dads, if that’s the case)"

    It is!

    I saw a several PS moms and dads this evening in the lobby of my daughter's dance class trying to berate their children into doing their homework, all while staring into their phones. I have no doubts I can do better. :) Can I do the best ever? Dunno.


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