So today has been a MONDAY – in every CAPS LOCK sense of the word. There was basic non-descript bickering after breakfast, a staggered start to school work (not really the kids’ fault), more sibling irritation, and finally, a broken vacuum-cleaner that totally derailed the rest of the academic day. But as I was driving my 3 kids, their school work, and my broken vacuum cleaner to the repair shop (again – but that’s another story), I began to think about how few people I could actually tell about my horrible morning. I know that most of the issues I now relate will sound far-fetched and hypothetical, but it has been brewing in my subconscious for a while, so here it is.
I feel like when we decided to homeschool our kids, I signed away my rights to complain. About anything. I am no longer allowed to comment that my kids had a bad day at school. Or that I’m struggling with their schoolwork. I’m not allowed to sigh that no one was able to focus this morning (even me). Or that despite my best efforts, some of the material we covered today probably went right over my 2nd grader’s sweet head.
Because it is now, officially and forever, and ever amen, MY FAULT if any of these things occur.
OK, let me explain how it works: When parents (with kids attending a traditional-style school) have a hard day with their kid’s homework, they tell other parents (in the same class or school) about their dire situation . . . then the other parents nod and agree about how difficult the work is, how they wish the teacher didn’t assign so many pages, how the tests are too frequent, and how they are frustrated about the whole system. However, now that I’ve gone ahead and ditched the system, I apparently have no one to blame but myself (or my kids?) when things go awry in our day. (I do find this assumption to be both limiting and preposterous, but there you have it.)
It’s as if there is a certain commiseration chip that no one feels compelled to employ with homeschoolers! In fact, the sentiment I find heartily expressed among the general population is that I brought this on myself and my kids with our decision to homeschool and if I don’t like it, I should go back to regular school. No matter that NO ONE would EVER suggest the opposite to a parent complaining about a day in regular school. Ever. Just saying.
If I sound like I’m a tad bitter, I’m really not. It’s more of a sad observation, really. I know I could simply call up one of my homeschooling buddies and share these thoughts with them, but somehow it smacks of deprivation or bias that I can’t just unload on my other friends the way we’re all accustomed to! I miss it, in a way. Not that I NEED to complain, my kids are great and typically I don’t have much to complain about, but when we have a tough moment, I miss the camaraderie. Also, it takes time to build up a solid network of local homeschooling peeps to turn to in the throws of this new endeavor; I had over 6 years experience in the other field. 😉
I suppose the other reason I feel more secure in keeping my mouth shut, is that I’m acutely aware of how many pairs of eyes are watching our every move. In very much a “watched piece of toast in the toaster” kind of way. Only instead of waiting for it to pop up, I feel as if all the pairs of eyes are all waiting for the toast to burn. Waiting for me throw my hands up in the air and say “OMG! What was I THINKING?? Why would ANYONE want to do THIS??” In that instant, there would undoubtedly be throngs of people nodding their heads in agreement and commiserating with me that they had those same fears and how glad they are I’m returning to “they system” so we can all complain about THAT together again.
I should pause to note that I DO have a variety of supporters in both camps (homeschool and traditional school) who have been amazing throughout this journey and done nothing more than their absolute BEST to encourage me no matter the circumstances — and our kids’ closest friends have been amazing too.
But the fact remains – my toast is not burning. The eyes grow increasingly curious as our school year evolves and I’m still not having a melt-down. So I’ll be darned if I let my “Monday” be known to the masses. Not to put on a ‘front’ or anything, but today I’m realizing why I should exercise my right to remain silent. And why there are probably many homeschool Mom’s feeling the same way.