A Brave Writer mom asked after the recent Awesome Adulthood live (see 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.
Awesome Aduthood on the Podcast
With that as a preface, listen to these Brave Writer podcast episodes that deal with Awesome Adulthood: