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.
A Brave Writer mom asked after the recent Awesome Adulthood scope (see it below):
What if, as an adult, you don’t know what your interests are or what you personally enjoy?
Ask yourself this question several times a day: “What do I want?” and make it in reference to something specific.
For instance, you open the refrigerator and see two kinds of yogurt. Ask “Which one do I want?” Not “Which one does the toddler like?” so I’ll eat the other, not “I should eat the unpopular one.” But which of these two flavors do I actually want? If the flavor that comes to you is not in front of you, put it on the shopping list and BUY it the next time you are at the store. And EAT it.
Being home with kids is the most liberating, joyful, wonderful life, and the most exasperating, demanding, nearly impossible life. BOTH. It’s okay to feel both. It’s okay to want a life with them over a career outside the home (me too!) and to have some tiny foothold that retains YOU too—however you get there. Even if it starts with, “I like this radio station so I’m going to listen to it even if others don’t like it.”
Maybe the word “awesome” is tripping you up? What if you said, “Satisfying” or “Meaningful” or a more modest “Happy” adulthood? The core question to answer isn’t whether or not you are leading some “fantastic” life that everyone would find startling or amazing. It’s this question: Are you leading a life that is satisfying to you, that represents the benefits of having gotten to the age you are today, for you? Maybe start there.
Please know it is not my intent to cause anyone to feel MORE burdened, or that there is some NEW standard you must hit that you aren’t hitting.
On the contrary—the goal is liberation and freedom.
Let me make two points:
1. Being a stay-at-home mom is a fantastic life! And it is certainly satisfying. In no way do I want to add an additional burden saying you MUST find some OTHER BETTER thing to love because being a mom isn’t enough. I LOVED being at home with my kids and homeschooling them.
2. It is also wonderful being a grown up adult woman who has her own aspirations, curiosities, interests, and hobbies. It’s okay to want those even while fully invested in parenting and home education. In fact, it can help your homeschool thrive and it can help you have the stamina to stay the course.
The reason I want to say both of these is this: I have been witness to a surprising level of burnout, depression, disappointment, worry, and self-recrimination in home education.
The early years are invigorating (for many) and the enjoyment from the career of home teaching is deeply satisfying and a true adventure. That said, even career teachers and professors get real time off (summers and sabbaticals). They don’t live with their students. They renew their minds and their bodies with outside activities, relationships, and experiences.
I wonder if this level of angst around adulthood and homeschooling is, in part, tied to locating your sense of fulfillment in someone else’s eventual success. In other words, if you are measuring your satisfaction in life by how well your kids perform in your homeschool and under your parenting, your identity and sense of self are now held hostage by the choices your kids make, AND when they leave (which they will), you may only then get to find out what it is that makes you, you!
So the idea behind this “awesome adulthood” is to embrace the powers that go with being an adult—career if you want it, hobby if you can do it, fitness if it makes you stronger and happier, spirituality and that journey if it satisfies your hunger, education through reading or grad school if you need it… and so on.
Do you HAVE to go find these outside the home or at all? No. Let them come to you as a surprise of happy. Let the inspiration find you. I just want to alert you to the possible whispers: “Psst. The art museum is hosting a lecture.” You might think: “I can’t go. I have a nursing baby.” But what if you thought, “I want to go”? What if you paused long enough to notice: “I would enjoy that.”
Maybe that’s how it starts…
Give yourself permission to be surprised by a happy occurrence of inspiration that is not for your homeschools only—but for you. Express you in your home, yes. But when you’re ready, share the wonderful you that you are with the world beyond your doors too. When you do, your kids will see—ah, that’s how you do it. And you’ll say to yourself, “This feels good.”
It should feel good. This is not a duty or an assignment. It is a liberation! Permission. That’s all.
AND – you are free to disagree. It’s just how I see it this side of 50, with thousands of conversations with homeschooling mothers coursing through my brain.
With that as a preface, watch both scopes that deal with Awesome Adulthood:
Homeschooling can be a lonely road. You are at home with children, embarking on a task that changes every year (sometimes every month!) as your children grow and mature. The ability to sustain that commitment comes from sheer grit, idealism, faith, and trust. When in doubt, where do you turn? Some of us rely on close friends, homeschooling support groups, and Internet communities. These companions are important and must be nurtured and cherished.
In addition, though, it helps to refresh your philosophy of education and parenting. How do you renew your faith that you and your children will know what to do when you face challenges and obstacles to a harmonious home education?
A Gracious Space is a non-sectarian compilation of fifty essays about homeschooling and family life designed to encourage you, the homeschooling parent even on your worst day. Read an entry with your morning coffee or tea to help you focus on the principles and ideals that undergird your homeschool.
Essay titles include
It All Adds Up!
Content, not Conventions
Know Your Kids as They Are
Less is More, Really!
It’s the Relationship, Sweetheart
Prophecies of Doom
In Defense of the Disillusioned
How You Say it Matters
To Plan or Not Plan Your Lesson Plans
When Your Kids are Unhappy, What Can You Do?
This collection of essays currently comes in two formats: PDF and ePub (for iBooks). You will receive both of these formats when you order.
In the hurry scurry to be all things to all people, don’t forget to be there for you.
You deserve choices—what to eat, what movies to see, where to take a walk, how to decorate a room, what topics to study, what field trips to take, how to spend a holiday weekend, what to do with unexpected funds.
You are not merely the mirror for all the choices of the ones you love.
Not only that, your opinions, thoughts, and feelings can change. You don’t have to hang onto one idea or belief simply because you held it fiercely at one point in time. It’s okay to test a new belief, to try a new idea, to return to a discarded one and try it again.
You don’t have to agree with all the members of your household. You can disagree (even strongly) as long as you leave room for the others to have their own strong opinions too. You can contend for the ideals or values you are forming, while recognizing that these same ideals are incomplete/unfinished and can grow and change again (and likely will).
It’s okay to need time to yourself (even five minutes, behind the pantry door, to regroup and fight back tears).
Your feelings can be hurt. Your heart can feel torn in two. You will occasionally be genuinely annoyed by one of your children (worried about, embarrassed by, sick of).
You’re human. You get to be. You get to lose it occasionally, and you get to ask forgiveness, and to make amends.
You matter. Your life is not only about these other precious people you selflessly serve. It is also about you. You get one life. Be sure you are living it.
The best definition of co-dependency I ever heard was this:
“When you’re drowning, someone else’s life flashes before your eyes.”
Make sure your life is flashing before yours, now, while you can live it fully. Put something on the calendar for you—time, space, food, reading, exploration, a new goal.
Amazingly, everyone in your home will respect and admire you more when they see you enthusiastic about your own life. After all, how else do your kids get to understand the value of being an adult if they don’t see the wonderful stuff adulthood offers YOU?
It’s a difficult topic, but let’s talk about it: Raging at children.
I sat with a cluster of women, each one sharing about her struggle with anger and control. One spoke of rage—how it came over her like a flash flood, and the next thing she knew, she’d be screaming bloody murder at her small children. All she could feel was the complete out of controlness of the moment, the thwarting of her much-better-plan, the awareness that how it should go was not at all how it was going. The fact that small children were cowering didn’t slow the lava flow of verbal assault. She’d give in to it until she had exhausted herself…and wounded her kids.
It took years before she could appreciate that her kids really had been harmed by the yelling, the screaming, the cursing.
The next one spoke of holes she’d punched in walls, “things” she’d hurled in anger that shattered menacingly in front of her trespassing offspring. This mild-mannered friend listed the ways she dressed down her kids when they got in her way—took my breath away. I would never have known.
Another mother talked about the obsessive nature of her need to know that her adult daughter was taking her medications. She found herself nagging and manipulating and finally yelling down the telephone line.
I was used to hearing about rage in marriages—usually men toward women. Or if in families, fathers toward kids. It was startling to listen to mothers, and painful, too.
The rager rarely notices the impact of the rages. The rager feels out of control and justified in venting it. When the children comply out of fear, the rager may even feel reinforced in the strategy. “If I yell and scream, stuff gets done and relieves my anxiety.”
The secret of many families is that volatile anger is a constitutive part of their family culture but no one talks about it. It’s as though we’ve all cooperated in this huge silent secret—we show smiling photos of our assembled families at holiday meals, and yet behind the smiles is the memory of screaming and yelling with insults and character evisceration five minutes before the camera shutter clicked.
I honestly don’t know how to cure rage. It must come from within the rager, it seems. Conversations don’t work. Some awareness of how damaging it is to the victims needs to get across the transom from wounded to wound creator. Then steps need to take place that help the rager reign it in and heal whatever pain in her causes the outbursts.
What I do know, however, is the devastating impact of cumulative experiences with rage. The victims carry that shattering experience inside—it’s as though they can come apart at the hint of criticism or raised voice. They take that pain into their adult relationships.
It’s bad enough when adults hurl insults at each other. They are peers, even when it doesn’t feel that way.
What is not talked about enough, however, is verbal abuse that is unleashed by parents on children. If a grown adult woman can feel as though she’s been beaten by the loud booming accusing voice of a peer (her husband/partner), how much more must small children feel fractured by the assault of anger and control, rage and cursing from a parent they love and want to trust?
When your home is the daily full-time residence of your children (they don’t go to daycare or school), preserving that space as the sacred, safe place to live is even more paramount. Everyone loses their cool occasionally, but a habit of using anger, rage, and shows of violence to control children is a step way beyond frustration or momentary anger. It’s our job as parents to protect our children from demonstrations of rage.
I know this is a more somber post than I usually write. I know that it veers uncomfortably into territory that is far afield from writing and language arts, or even run of the mill homeschooling issues.
Yet I can’t ignore it because it keeps coming up (in emails from customers, in phone calls, in in-person conversations). To thrive in learning, a child needs to trust the educator. Risks, missteps, failures, and childishness must be permitted and welcomed for homeschooling to thrive. Raging against children undermines everything. According to some experts (Stephen Stosny is one), a full recovery from being on the receiving end of a rage is a full year (12 months!). The victim carries the “anxiety” of the rage in their bodies and can’t let go of the need to “protect self” through fight, flight, or freezing for an entire rage-free year.
If a child is on the receiving end of rage several times a year, you are creating a condition for the child that is ongoing and doesn’t heal, even if they don’t tell you and appear “okay” on the outside. They live with rage-created anxiety.
My hope is that this little PSA will give you a moment to pause and reflect, to find support, to grow…if this is you.
It’s good to remember how vulnerable our little charges are and how much they do depend on us…for everything.
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