Archive for the ‘On Being a Mother’ Category

Homeschoolers Cry

Homeschoolers Cry

Can we have a little heart-to-heart? I feel moved to talk about a topic that keeps popping up in email, phone calls, and messages. It’s this:

Homeschoolers cry.

They sometimes call in tears. Or they email to tell me they thought they were the only ones.

Nope. I cried too.

I cried when I was overwhelmed—so much to do for so many.

Maybe you cried when the middle child (7) read before the oldest (9).

We cry when all our best efforts—the field trip planned weeks in advance—turns into a toddler meltdown and is ruined for everyone.

Some of us dissolve into a hot mess because the partner we trust to encourage us questions our strategy, judges the not-yet-proven results, sows doubt.

The tears slide off our cheeks in the shower, out of view. But they’re real.

I remember taking time each week when my kids were small to book a room in the library for myself. My husband took care of the children at home while I spent 2-3 hours in a sound proof closed space, alone, ostensibly to work on freelance writing.

Many weeks, however, I wound up on the floor—sobbing, and then sleeping the deep sleep of emotional exhaustion. More than once, a kind librarian had to gently knock on the door to wake me so the next user could enter.

I didn’t always know how weepy I was until I had space to be alone, to feel it. In the quiet, my worries bubbled to the surface.

  • What if I’ve made a mistake with X child?
  • How can I know that my choices are not causing permanent set backs?
  • When is the time to worry and involve professionals?
  • Is there some way to know I’m on the right path for my family?
  • What if I’m missing key academic markers?
  • If we don’t use tests or grades, how can I measure my children’s progress?

And the worst one of all:

Who do I trust: me? my spouse? my friends? the school system? other home educators? authors of books? curriculum designers?

A different kind of tears.

And then… and then!

One of my kids would hand me a page filled with writing, happen-stance. On that page: a poem, a story transcribed for a non-writing sister, a diary entry, a letter, a list of birds watched at the feeder entered in a little notebook!

The bundled nerves unwound, grew slack.

Different tears—the good kind, the “I’m so glad I keep at it” kind.

My kids’ eager need to share their inspired work moved me, touched me.

A dawning awareness grew over a decade.

I could trust my children. I could trust their voices. In writing. In sharing. Certainly they didn’t know everything about how they were preparing for the future. The need to prepare them was still on me.

But in the midst of the doubts, one unfailing truth became clear:

I knew I was on the right track
when my children moved me to happy tears.

Nothing reassured me the way my children’s own growth did. When I could recognize the spark of learning, the personality of my children popping through their writing, the happy confidence of accomplishment in whatever task, I knew I was on the right track.

You can know it too. Look to your children.

The best home education moves YOU to tears, not your kids.

Stay the course!

We like to say in Brave Writer: When the tears come, the writing’s done.

Let’s flip it around:

When your happy tears come, the learning’s begun!

Happy Thanksgiving 2016

Happy Thanksgiving

Happy Thanksgiving dear Brave Writer friends!

This past year has seen explosive growth in our community of caring. I’m moved and touched by your participation with one another and the way you’ve opened space in your families for joy, peace, messes, and poetry. I love being a part of your lives. Thanks for letting me peek in and eavesdrop.

Each Thanksgiving, I like to remind you of all you do and how appreciated that effort is, even if hidden or taken for granted by the people you love. I see you. I see ALL you do. Thank you on behalf of the ones who count on you for your love and devotion.

I am thankful for you…

and for all the ways you give, give, and give.

Thanks for getting up in the middle of the night—again—with the baby and bed-wetter.

Thank you for holding back your tired, angry voice.

Thank you for hunkering down with a curriculum you don’t like but can’t afford to replace.

Thank you for making magic with vegetables and healthy snacks for reluctant-to-try-anything-new kids.

Thank you for overlooking the insensitive jab from your trusted partner because s/he is stressed and being a blockhead.

Thank you for examining your motives.

Thanks for exercising and/or eating right and/or taking your meds and/or trying hard to be healthy when it’s easier to give up.

Thanks for excusing childishness.

Thank you for celebrating childishness.

Thank you for being childlike with your children!

Thank you for the thankless hours you spend comforting your teen who doesn’t even like you sometimes.

Thanks for calling that friend, or your mother, or the sibling that wears you out because they needed you today.

Thank you for keeping house as best you can, in spite of the never-ending assault on your living space by all the people who love you but love your house less.

Thank you for washing an unending parade of dishes, for laundering every last pair of socks, for cleaning behind the couches once a year, for hanging pretty things to look at on the walls.

Thank you for research done, appointments scheduled, payments made on time, and performances attended with camera and heart in hand.

Thank you for not falling apart.

Thank you for getting up again when you do.

Thank you for holding it together long after you thought you couldn’t.

Thank you for pies, potatoes, gluten free rolls, vegan hot corn, turkey or tofurkey, and watching football and the extended edition of Lord of the Rings (again).

Thank you for the look of love that comes over your face when you consider how lucky you feel to be in this family with these people.

The work you do is invisible to many but well known to all of us who lead the same life you do. Well done!

Life morphs and changes; demands emerge and fade. Pay attention to your life; make choices that ensure the peace and well being of your loved ones.

That responsibility does fall to you, and we can be grateful that it does.

With power, comes responsibility. Use it wisely.

As I like to say: “Keep going.”

Happiest of Thanksgiving friends!

Partnership Home Education: Finding Friends for You

Partnership Homeschooling: Finding Friends
Image taken at the 2016 Brave Writer Retreat by Alli Parfenov

Let’s find friends for you!

Homeschooling is much easier when you do it with a friend. Trouble is, sometimes it’s tough to find the right fit. How can you cultivate a homeschool community right in your neck of the woods that meets your need for friendship, support, and practice? What do you do if the only homeschoolers around have very different belief systems or homeschool philosophies?

And what about co-ops? How can you find or start one that allows you to be the you that YOU are?

Let’s talk about it. Grab a cup of tea, put your feet up, and watch the video below.

Find Support and Community in The Homeschool Alliance

A Gracious Space: Fall LIVE

A Gracious Space: Fall Readings LIVE on Facebook Sept. 2016
My phone is ringing, my email dinging. Every day I get to talk with many of you about the coming start to the new school year (here in the northern hemisphere). If I could pop through the looking glass and join you in your living room, I’d happily do it!

Short of that, I thought it might be nice to read my daily reading book together on Facebook. The book is:

A Gracious Space: Fall

Daily readings to sustain your homeschooling commitment
A Gracious Space: FallI’ve written 50 essays of encouragement to read each morning or right before bed (or whenever you need a boost).

I’m going to

Read an Essay a Day on Facebook Live

Starting Tuesday September 6th!

I’ll wake up, read the essay on Facebook, and then discuss it for a few minutes. You can watch live or on replay, make comments, or ask questions. We’ll build a little momentum through the month to keep you motivated and supported.

The book is available in two formats:

A Gracious Space: Fall (print)
A Gracious Space: Fall (digital)

Want to try out A Gracious Space: Fall?

Grab 5 FREE daily readings here!

To join me on Facebook Live, you will want to get the notifications! It’s not as easy as it should be, but here’s a little trick I learned.

Go to the Facebook page and “Like” it (blue arrow). Then Click on the drop down arrow and click on “See First” (red oval and arrow). This will make the notifications appear in your feed every time I post or go live. Next, check “All On (All Posts, Events, Live Videos)” (green arrow and oval).

Facebook notifications

Taking this step will ensure that you never miss a live broadcast again! I know it’s been tricky to find them.

See you September 6th as we disrupt the back to school narrative and forge a new homeschool path!

Announcing: The “Be Good to You” Self-Care Guide

Self-Care Practices for the Homeschooling Parent

The “Be Good to You” Self-Care Guide
is now available!

Your homeschool depends on you: a healthy, centered, confident person.

In the hurry-scurry to be all things to all your bundles of love, it’s easy to get depleted, to forget that you used to have a favorite color, a preferred flavor of yogurt, a vote!

But you do! You have all those things and need them in order to be at your best every. single. day.

To help you get better at this self-care gig, we created an 11 page document with practices that take range from five-minute tune ups to enduring habits that will help you find your footing as both an awesome adult and dedicated loving parent.

You can buy the digital magazine now for a ridiculously low price. 🙂 Only $2.99. Less than a cup of Starbucks! You’re welcome.

Get yours now!