Lets be real here for a minute. Being a mom is hard, and sometimes I wonder if I’m even cut out for it. It’s messy, and exhausting and requires me to dip into a reserve of patience that I didn’t know existed. Yes, I am grateful for my life, I love my children, and I try to give them the absolute best mom I can. However there are days…. days where I snap too hard, days where I can’t wait for bedtime, and days where I just cannot bring myself to play or color or read one more book.
Our mornings usually start out quiet and then suddenly burst into chaos as the children wake one by one. When things settle for a minute, it’s like the silence after a big storm. My house lay in rubble, strewn about are dirty dishes, uneaten breakfasts, and half naked children. For the first hour I’ve been awake I have been playing the roll of chef, snuggle buddy, diaper changer,dish doer, and fetcher of all things. I want to quit, I want to hide somewhere quiet to eat in peace and sip on coffee undisturbed just for a few moments. I scramble a few eggs and go to to butter a piece of toast. To my surprise, I find a band-aid in the butter dish. Yes. a .used. band. aid. in. my. butter. dish. I wasn’t sure how to react. Should I burst into laughter, because that’s so random and super gross. Should I be really upset with whoever decided to leave it there, or should I just throw up my hands and clean off the butter dish and go about my day? This has just become one big theme for my life with three kids and now I often refer to the craziest of days as the “band aid in the butter dish kinds of days.”
As a home schooling family and mini adventure crew we tend to have a lot of these trying days. Those days everyone is cranky at the same time and my three year old continuously repeats himself while also crying at the top of his lungs. The days where the drinks are spilled, the arguing persists and I fail to even shower by 3 pm. Those days are the ones that I wonder if I’ve made a mistake. Did I make the right choice choosing to home school?
I recently started listening to a podcast called Wild + Free. It’s been so nice to listen in and get some advice and feel like someone out there understands. So if you homeschool or are thinking about it, I’d definitely recommend checking it out. Sometimes as a mom I tend to feel isolated. Just drowning in dirty diapers, crying children and crumbs. Being a home school mom can feel even further isolating, so having resources to help, support from family and friends, and enough resilience to continue on in spite of the band aid in the butter dish days is very important. I don’t want you to think that homeschooling is all milk and honey. It’s messy, frustrating and I sacrifice time for myself a lot. In today’s world we often feel pressure to maintain the perfect Instagram life. We start to feel bad about ourselves, constantly comparing, constantly being told we need more!We want the life in the picture perfect scene, we then feel pressured to make the perfect dinner, drive the perfect car, have the cutest clothes and look like we just turned twenty even when we are thirty something and have shoved out three children. It can all feel so overwhelming. Our children are extensions of us. Little people watching, absorbing, and modeling what we do. If I’m feeling this overwhelmed, imagine how my six year old is feeling with the same pressures.
Children are pressured to read and write earlier than ever, count to a hundred, know the sight words, pass the test, sit in the desk for hours, always dress right and have all the latest toys, cell phones, and iPads. Pressure from social media, YouTube and television. We pressure them to be perfect. We pressure them to act like adults even though they are only children. We rush them out of fear and love. We worry they will fail, or maybe we are worried we will fail. We want them to fit in and have friends, and play on the team. Ironically enough, we are failing to give them the most important thing, time. Time to play, time to explore, time to pursue things they are actually passionate about, time to play in the mud or climb the tree. Time for a childhood. Time for an imagination and real life experiences. Time to develop.
I touched briefly on the reasons we decided to pull our daughter out of public school in my post “Let Them Roam Among the Wildflowers.” One of the main reasons was the pressure to act older than she was. I found myself in a position where I felt the need to defend my daughters childhood. It only happens once after all. Watching my confident, wildly dressed, free spirited five year old come home not feeling good enough, or worried her hair is messed up before school. Watching her fire for learning be burnt out, and watching her become grumpy, overwhelmed, and over stimulated. Talking to her teacher only to be told “her pencil grip isn’t very good and she doesn’t seem to be processing information.” My daughter was crushing under pressure instead of developing a love for learning. She was being lost in the sea of report cards and reading requirements at the rightful age of five.
I was recently asked in a comment, “what I think needs to change in mainstream education?” I was informed that there’s a statistic that says sixty five percent of kids in primary schools will work in a job that doesn’t exist yet. I have to be honest, I was put on the spot. I had to step back and remember that statements like this are exactly why I’m doing what I’m doing. I pulled my daughter out so she was viewed as an individual, not as a statistic. I’m not worrying about what job she will do as an adult, for now I am nurturing her imagination, building her self confidence and teaching her life skills in hopes of raising a child who is strong enough to adapt to whatever her future has in store. We are focusing on building character, and teaching her values that can’t be taught in a school. ABCs and 123s will come, reading and writing, biology and calculus, language arts and history, but this year, kindergarten, is about building my child up. It’s about laying a solid foundation.
We are missing something here by associating academic success with raising a successful person. We become so focused on sight words, early reading levels and pencil grip. Then when our children aren’t at the level someone told us they should be at, we think something is wrong with them. When the final bell rings and that eighteen year old is suddenly dumped into the real world they are met with something foreign. They have spent majority of their time in a building going through the motions of academia. SAT scores, GPA, the standardized tests, all the academic success won’t matter in the real world if one doesn’t know how to apply it. Does that young adult know who they are? Do they have a good work ethic? Do they know how to get a job? How to write a check? How to rent or buy a house? How to make a meal and shop properly? How to manage money? How to prepare for an interview, network, communicate professionally, does that adult have ambition, because when you’re not the high school valedictorian anymore or the high school football star, you are ejected into a world you weren’t prepared for.
Someday all of my children will be faced with plenty of those “band aid in the butter dish days.” On these days when they fall and have to get back up, the days where they want to quit but have to keep going. I hope they have grit. I hope they know how to work through the hard stuff, forgive, love, have self control, patience and confidence in themselves. I hope they are good people. Our purpose as parents should be to prepare them for that day, the hard one, because true success isn’t graded on a paper or in a $100,000 masters degree.
As for the frazzled Mom who hasn’t showered in three days, who’s toenail polish has patinaed, the one still wearing your robe at noon, you rock. Keep going. 😉✌🏻
I shared a link here, check it out if you are curious about some of the Waldorf inspired principles! Enjoy!