Archive for the ‘On Being a Mother’ Category


Abbey Lossing - Motherhood

My kids bought me this gorgeous print (above) painted by artist Abbey Lossing for Mother’s Day titled “Motherhood.” It captures it all: the closeness, the reading, the hint of nature, the artwork that it is, the racial ambiguity of the subjects, the abandoned sippy cup on the high shelf, the bold colors that match my interior walls in my home. Perfection.


That’s what I felt when I looked at this picture. That’s the emotion missing from our daily lives right now.

The radical choice today is not skepticism or cynicism. It doesn’t take much insight to be appalled by political parties or news media. It’s easy to hate—to feel superior through anger and judgment, to believe in our own thoughts more than our fellow human beings.

What courage it takes to be hopeful. What faith it takes to be optimistic!

Human beings are complex bundles of needs. If we’re lucky, we begin our harrowing journey as a small child cuddled on a beloved lap, paging through picture books, with oceans of hope for a better tomorrow. I still believe that even the people who see the world differently than me want that too.

And when they don’t appear to, when they act in inscrutable ways, perhaps it’s because something went wrong all those years ago.

We have the chance to fundamentally alter next year and the decades ahead by the act of being a loving optimist, especially as we raise our children.

That’s motherhood: faith in human beings to become decent people.

This post is originally from Instagram and @juliebravewriter is my account there so come follow along for more conversations like this one!

YouTube Thursday: Making Money as a Mom and a Homeschooler

YouTube Thursday Making Money as a Mom and a Homeschooler

For this YouTube Thursday, let’s talk about how to make money while still being a homeschool mother (or father!).

In this video:

  • How to pursue your dreams while still homeschooling
  • Sharing how to develop a work lifestyle as a parent and a home educator
  • Feeling okay with earning money while you educate
  • How to monetize your already existent skills
  • Awesome adulthood and parenthood
  • How to balance homeschool with money making ventures through creating structure
  • Why you should keep your toe in your career field

As well as the four keys to earning money while homeschooling.

Making Money as a Mom and a Homeschooler

Follow Brave Writer on YouTube!

“It’s Mom’s fault”

It's All Mom's Fault

Kids blame.

So do adults, by the way.

When a shoe goes missing, the first thought is: “Who moved my shoe?” not “I wonder what I did with my shoe?” At least, that seems to be how it worked in my house unless it was me. I am ALWAYS assuming that I was the one to lose everyone’s shoes, including mine and the neighbor’s six houses down.

That’s because everyone in this family always thinks I know absolutely everything about everything that ever happens in our square footage. They believe I am magically capable of forming them into super humans who never make mistakes, miss deadlines, suffer illness, or are less qualified than another applicant.

In other words: when our kids fail—when homeschooled kids meet their own limitations—the finger they point is at the homeschooling parent—the architect of every detail of their lives.

Know what I’m saying? That means it is mom’s fault that the milk carton is empty, the cutest jacket ever somehow wound up in the Goodwill bag,or that the kids:

  • never learned to be more organized,
  • got cavities,
  • were late,
  • lost their place in line,
  • felt neglected,
  • got gum in their hair,
  • couldn’t stay awake,
  • missed the best party ever for a family wedding,
  • weren’t prepared for advanced math,
  • gave up the flute,
  • and don’t like salad!

They can look back on their flawed childhoods and assign you blame with ease because wherever they look IN their childhoods, there you are! Next to them, guiding them, empowering them, restricting them, living your own flawed version of humanity right next to them for them to absorb adopt or reject.

It must be YOU! It must be ME!

And if you ARE me, you are adept at piling on the blame to self. In my case, I am quite happy to merge with the criticism. “Dang. I’m so disorganized. It’s no wonder she doesn’t keep track of her passport easily.” Or I might think, “I should never have trusted that book that said delaying math would be okay. Look how upset he is about it now that he’s older.”

I jump right into the seat of judgment with my child and give myself a stern talking to. Together, we determine that I am the cause of all that went poorly in that child’s life.

Until… until! I remember my own childhood. I mean, I want to blame my parents for my failings. For example, I could say that I am messy because my parents were so obsessively neat. But how does that make sense? They gave me the models I needed and were gentle and kind about it. I never adopted that style of living—I did that. Not them.

I could blame them that I didn’t go to college out of state. Why didn’t my dad show more enthusiasm for his alma mater and get me to apply there? But if I flip it over: I wanted to go to UCLA. That was my choice.

I might blame my parents for not requiring me to continue piano lessons or for getting a divorce and ship-wrecking what I thought was my happy home.

And yet today: I know better. I KNOW better. Every life has a share of unhappiness. I know adults make mistakes, are making it up as they go, that they are not able to protect themselves from pain, let alone their children.

In the end, each one of us is responsible to become the best adult version of self as we grow into adulthood.

So what do we do with all this blame that assails us? I have a few ideas that have helped me.

1. Take it.

You’re the adult. This is a temporary thrashing about of an emerging young adult or teen or even middler. This child in front of you knows you are the safe repository for their loss, disappointment in self, and failure. Allow them to vent and consider how you might have prevented this terrible fate. Affirm the feeling: “It must feel awful to think that I failed you” and validate the possible interpretation: “It seems to you I could have prepared you better.” You can apologize if there is something to apologize for: “I’m sorry I couldn’t see around the corners to how you might feel limited later by the choice I made.”

2. Gently hand it back.

After you take it, offer a reframe that empowers your child to grow. “Since you are now dealing with the feeling of x, how do you imagine addressing this challenge?” Create the opportunity for your child to be an overcomer! You don’t need to give advice (they already don’t trust you, right?). Simply create space for self reflection.

3. Shut up and wait.

Don’t ask multiple questions in a row, don’t offer suggestions to consider. Leave space for a moment of struggle. If you are quiet, they will have to say something to fill that void. If the child goes back to blame…

4. Reframe the frustration.

Help your child understand that no matter what the cause, they have the resources (inside and at hand) to create good in this circumstance. They can get skills they don’t have, they can create new habits to support them, they can ask for help now.

Example: Your child blames you for not helping them get the skills to study for tests. They are now in a co-op class that requires test-taking and they get a D on the first test.

  • Take it: “I didn’t think about doing mock tests with you. Sorry about that.”
  • Hand it back: “How do you imagine you can prepare yourself for test-taking now?”
  • Wait. Listen.
  • Reframe: “I get that it really upset you to earn a D on your first test. Fortunately test-taking is a skill you can learn at any stage in life! The good news is you can easily improve your score since you started at the bottom! I’m happy to support you in getting what you need. What do you think that is?”

There’s a balance between accepting blame and then reframing for self-empowerment. That’s the sweet spot! As a home educator, it’s easy to be the target. You want to resist the temptation to argue or to wallow in self-deprecation.

Your kids are resilient and always learning! This moment will pass.

The Homeschool Alliance

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

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!