Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Give Me The Goods....

There's a tiny publishing house in a city several hours away from me that is looking for stories from homeschoolers about their journey. The editor responded to my email today and said he'd welcome my submission(s). The whole topic has brought out the resident cynic in me front and center. It's tempting to type a one line submission that says: RUN THE OTHER WAY FAST.

I've home schooled for the past 14 years. Oh, right I told myself I couldn't write anything today because it's the day before my period and my perspective on life tends to get warped on this day. There are times however when I wonder if what happens on this day is that I get to see life very clearly and the rest of the month it's through blurry eyes only. Anyway, that was probably too much info.

So, I sat and scribbled notes today about homeschooling. About the journey. Should I write about the angst of teaching my kids to read (one at age 5, one at age 9 and one at age 12) or do I tell of the many days I told my husband within 3 seconds of his arriving home that the school bus was coming in the morning unless he could straighten these kids out. Or better yet, the days when I phoned him before he got home and told him that. Ever try to parent over a cell phone?

Do I tell about the challenges of homeschooling in the wake of a nervous breakdown (after all those years of smugly telling people that homeschooling hadn't driven me crazy yet) or about going to a home school conference this year and just feeling sad for all those women who were looking for the magic wand/curriculum/speaker that would make their families match those perfect family photos on the glossy cover of a popular homeschooling mag? How I couldn't offer one single word of encouragement to the newbie homeschoolers I shared a table with at meal time.. That when I was introduced to a new homeschooler as a veteran and was almost done that I looked at her and said, "Thank God." Not exactly the reply she was anticipating hearing.

What about writing about meeting a homeschooling mom of 10 in the grocery store a few months ago and being thrilled when I asked her how she was that she told me she tried not to think about it.(Don't you just love that answer?) It thrilled me because I had been so intimidated by her and her perfect looking family for years and years. We now could have an honest conversation about the realities we had both tried to hide from each other.

Or how about admitting to the prolonged time when I thought - and was supported to think this way in the homeschooling community - that if I controlled who they spent time with and got them to memorize 50 Bible verses and only read 'Christian' books that I could be guaranteed a certain outcome in their behaviour. Oh, it was some outcome I tell you. I was aiming for perfection and they didn't deliver. I can still remember the look on my daughter's face when I told her I would - not - have - a rebellious daughter and she calmly replied, "You already do."

What about the time I wrote an essay for our local homeschool publication detailing a typical school day in our family only to phone my closest home schooling friend and hear her say, "Oh I read it but thought to myself, I know what a day is really like in your house."

Do I write about how I evolved from believing that committed parents homeschooled and judged the rest of Christiandom for sidestepping their responsibility to being in a place today where I just want people to support each other in the grueling marathon called parenthood and stop being threatened by the differences in the choices we make.

It's not that it's all bad but it's all hard. And who wants to hear that?

I'm tempted to wrap this up by listing all the positive aspects of our homeschooling journey but I bet you already have heard them. It is just so rare to find homeschoolers who will be gut honest about the day to day reality. I have had whispered conversations in Walmart about it. But so rarely a conversation in any arena where I could get attacked for admitting to the very real struggles of it.

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