Week 2 of Homeschool: My daughter cries nearly every day. Sometimes the tears come when I ask her to read to me or to try something new, but most often the tears come when I fail to do things the “right” way (i.e., how things were done at her school last year). This last offense is by far the worst, as it reminds her of what she is missing out on while home with Mom as her first grade teacher. I order every book I can find about homeschooling. They sit on my nightstand while I watch Schitt’s Creek.
I grieve with my daughter. I wonder if I should have told my husband, “I can handle it” as I ugly cried in our kitchen two months ago. (I’m sure that was very reassuring to him.) I know that we made the best decision we could with the information we had at the time. We have control over our kids’ education this year. Homeschool is our safest option and allows us to continue teaching and learning regardless of our circumstances. It also means that we don’t see our friends from school. We aren’t part of a school community anymore. Even though we felt confident that homeschool was the right choice for our family this year, it still chafes in practice.
Week 4: I want to trust in what we are doing. It’s hard to remain confident when everything appears to be falling apart around us. I hear my friends talk about virtual school, and I am glad that we are not beholden to a screen. The baby naps on a regular schedule now, and I’m grateful I don’t have to wake him to pick up kids from school. My four-year-old has started to read, and I have the time to work through simple books with him. As a baby, he would wriggle out of my lap rather than sit through a board book. I used to cry thinking he would never enjoy reading.
Every day after lunch, I read to the big kids. Sometimes the baby and the dog join us, too. Some books are for school, others just for fun. We have been reading aloud together since my daughter, our oldest, was a baby. Lately, we’ve been working our way through the “Little House” series by Laura Ingalls Wilder. My name is written in a nine-year-old’s purple scrawl inside the cover of each book. When we learn about the grasslands and prairies in science, the kids are excited that they already know so much about them because of Laura’s books.
Week 6: When the kids’ grandparents ask how school is going, my son tells them “it’s not real school.” My in-laws say something about the kids having such a great teacher (haw haw haw), and my daughter tells them what she really thinks about that. I remind the kids they are lucky to have a mom who is a (former) teacher. I remind myself I am blessed to be a stay-at-home-parent who can homeschool. I remove the homeschool books from my nightstand and replace them with Amy Poehler’s and Tina Fey’s memoirs. I sometimes fantasize about all the alone time I would have had if the big kids had gone to school and it was just me at home with the baby. I drink a lot of coffee.
Week 8: We’ve found our stride. Most days, we complete the work I have planned for us. There have been fewer meltdowns and more smiles. I ask my daughter to write a journal response to What is your favorite thing about school? She writes that reading is one of her favorite things. Below her journal entry is a drawing of my my daughter, my son, and me reading on my bed together. I give her a squeeze, tell her that is my favorite part, too.
My daughter and I snuggle together with her two little brothers and read Mrs. Piggle Wiggle on my bed, a vessel big enough to carry all of us away from our stress for a bit. Soon, my daughter is giggling over Mrs. Piggle Wiggle’s radish cure, laughing and snorting as Mrs. Piggle Wiggle cures kids of their ridiculous behaviors with teeny tiny dishes and a back-talking parrot. I hear her giggle as the pages turn, and I know that it might just be the books that bring her around this year; it might be the stories that keep us together.
This post is part of a blog hop with Exhale—an online community of women pursuing creativity alongside motherhood, led by the writing team behind Coffee + Crumbs. Click here to view the next post in this series “Unexpected Joy”.