I often feel spent. I am overwhelmed and exhausted. I am alone. Most days I spin in a cloud of guilt and disappointment. Sometimes, I am truly so tired it makes me weep, even if only for a brief moment. The truth however, is that I am not alone. I am a member of a phenomenal tribe, albeit an odd one. Some people in this club stumbled upon it, fell accidentally into a dark and scary pit only to claw their way back to a new sense of normal. Others were guilted into joining, manipulated you might even say. Some ached, yearned and begged to get here; trying for years just to join this regular, mundane, and common community of people. At some point, nevertheless, we all became parents and this simple moment changed us all forever.
As a mother that homeschools two bright boys, I am consumed with doing the best I can to make them whole, make them successful (whatever that ends up looking like in the end). I don’t have the luxury of sending them off to school and having the ability to blame a collective of teachers for the things they didn’t teach them, or taught them too well. I am judged every, single, goddamn day. Yes, even by you. Now this judgement is not always negative, sometimes the praise that’s equally hard to take. We have good days and we have many poor ones, like every other poor bastard in this club – it’s rough in here.
Some days I want to curl up like a 80’s mom and watch daytime soaps, eating bonbons all day – that’s what you guys did right? Oh right, you still live with the same judgement even though your kids are grown. You are STILL the one looked at as either a failure or a success when people assess your grown children. Even as adults doing our own stumbling, our own parenting or heaven forbid those of us choosing not to be parents – you’re getting judged. This systemic judgement can dictate our lives and ultimately it’s our children that it affects. Let’s lay off a bit.
You’re probably reading this thinking this is an attack on a judgmental society and perhaps that’s where it stems from, but this is a calling to all parents: Go a little easier on yourself. Take a breath. Regroup. Don’t try so hard to be on your A-game every day. In the end, your kids – they’ve got this.
I’m a very lucky woman; I likely have the hardest working man ever made. He doesn’t take sick days, he doesn’t laze around and most of all he never, ever, ever complains! Now I understand this is what a million and one mothers would kill for, but I’m telling you there are moments when that is hard to match. There are days when I feel broke down, tired, spent and so exhausted I could cry – but in the back of my head I know my other half (my better half) is out there working in the snow, sleet, mud and 45 degree weather and when he gets home he’s not going to complain for a single moment. So I look at our children, pull up my socks and I trudge through. With little effort and zero love and attention to what we’re working on – we continue. We persevere.
Now here my friends is the kicker, and I learned this today. We try so hard to get as much done in a day as we can. We compete with those imaginary Jones’. You know, the ones that are struggling just like us? I worry about what to say at the grocery store when someone hears our children homeschool and proceed to ask my six year old “What is 12X11?” (P.S. don’t do that shit). But the worst part is, we judge ourselves the most – at least I do. I worry more about how I’m teaching, how I’m parenting and how my children move through life more than anyone else could. Maybe that stems from an icky society but either way it’s time to move past it. Time to loosen the reins and give our kids the credit they deserve.
This week has been a nightmare homeschooling my kids – like send them away on the bus tomorrow and be done with it, that kinda hard. My husband, my rock, Mr. Strong and Steady, he’s been away at work this week and that’s very hard on the boys. Truth be told, it’s always hard on them and I knew this, but I still didn’t alter expectations. I have been fighting with my kids everyday to get school work done and they’ve been willing to fight me until we’re almost in tears. It’s been the week of groundings, threats and a lot of separation. I am having a hard time without him near, I always do, but I forgot to think about the boys struggle this week. I pushed and pushed when really they needed to be given the space to mourn, to long for, and to learn on their own terms – instead I pushed. So today we’re hitting the 7-day mark, which is always the turn around. The time where our new rhythm takes over and we’re OK knowing that he’ll be back when he can. So what happened today? Well, my kids got back into their rhythm, got their feet back under them and they took the reins. They didn’t want to do book work today and that’s OK (it’s also a Sunday, so you can see I have moments of sitting on the throne of Helga’s House of Pain), but instead they wanted to “adult”. They wanted to research things on their own, wanted to make a full dinner (I can smell the amazing moose stew and fresh apple pies from here) and they wanted to learn things like “how much soap to use in a laundry swap.”
Some days those battles you’re having need to be tossed to the side, it’s not worth it and it doesn’t matter. Go for a walk, get some fresh air, and if all you have in you is the effort to boil water – them make a pot of tea and watch TV. You won’t find any judgement here. We have a hard time in this club. The expectations are high, the judgement runs thick and our own obsession with “making” the next amazing person is gross. Let’s be kind to our kids, kind to each other and give ourselves a little slack. There isn’t a child in this world that doesn’t’ want to learn, so if they’re having an off day – give it to them! We all have those days and they’re hard. Push through mommies and daddies, cause these amazing little beasts are growing every day. Give them the benefit of the doubt and trust that they know when they need a day off. Everyone needs that sometimes, even Mr. Strong and Steady.