Okay...I'm going to ramble on a bit here about a subject that I don't go into but on seldom occasions. I think reasons for homeschooling are absolutely not the same for all of us. Many people homeschool for religious reasons, I on the other hand, do not homeschool only for that aspect of life although I do believe that a spiritual life and personal relationship with God is probably the most important element to a happy life. I homeschool for many reasons, most of which revolve around my belief that the family dynamic is most important to a child's young life and that, in itself, can lay a good, structured foundation for the rest of the child's life. I also homeschool to provide a safe place for my kids to grow physically and emotionally and mentally. I want them to be proud of themselves, non-judgmental of their emotions and feelings, accepting of all other people and cultures and ideas, as well as become strong and opinionated without fear tearing them down before they have a chance to become steady in their beliefs. I want these things to become ingrained in their very fibers, I want them to be loving and compassionate, strong and positive, independent and productive.
I can say all the things above from the bottom of my heart, but at the same time I have to admit that once in a long while a huge veil of doubt tries to cloud my vision as a homeschooling mom.
I know I'm just in the middle of a fog filled with doubts - doubts about myself, about my abilities, about what I've already done, about the incessant begging from my nine year old for what seems like a large amount outside activity, about my boys who will be fourteen in just a couple of months, and about whether I've made right choices along the way.
I hate being filled with doubt like this. I hate the way it makes me feel. I hate that I turned to researching public magnet schools and private schools. I really hate the tuition rates at those said private schools. I sometimes dislike the fact that we live out in a rural area, far away from almost anything although the kids do have room to run, play, and be free. I wish I could make things easier, locations closer, finding friends easier. I wish I could change a few things right now at this very moment.
I wish I could close my mind to all the doubts that creep in, but sometimes it feels like I become bombarded with my own inadequacies and self-judgments. I wish I knew what to do when I feel this way, as I have a few other times over all these years of homeschooling. This time is a little different since I actually allowed myself to spend a couple of hours last night researching a few schools for my girls. I honestly had an absolute, literal nightmare about this exact subject last night and awoke before the alarm with a start.
One thing in particular that is really bothering me is that Emma is desperate for a heaping dose of social interaction in the form of costly acting classes and dance classes. Seriously, she will.not.stop.begging. and it has been going on for over a year. It's not a phase. It makes me feel like she needs more than I can give. Perhaps much more.
And, to top off the nightmare from which I awoke this morning, the appointment with my gynecologist today turned to a conversation on homeschooling after a few naturally progressing questions ended up with me admitting that I do, in fact, homeschool my children. I was shocked by the turn of our conversation and how she honestly and matter-of-factly stated her opinion of homeschooling. She was dead-set against it. She proposed to me that all children should be in a classroom setting to learn to get along with their peer group, to get along with adults throughout the schools that they don't particularly like, to understand that life is about dealing with differences among people and becoming a strong individual, capable of creating a life that they can be proud of. She was respectful, but stood by her opinions firmly. I was not offended, and honestly felt a bit enlightened to hear someone from the flip-side of the debate actually speak respectfully about it with me and not speak down to me in a rash of hushed comments. I really got her point of view. I honestly did. I think she is absolutely correct for the most part. I also know that she is speaking her point of view from that of being a long-time practicing gynecologist who is married to an equally successful financial adviser who, together, are parents to two children who attend the most prestigious private school in our area with tuition running at least $25,000 per year for the two. I can fully imagine that if I were in her financial shoes, I could feel comfortable with standing by that mouthful of opinions. But, I am not in those financial shoes and a highly esteemed private school is not an option for my family.
In the area where we live we are really limited by the choices we have. The local public schools are, for me, not an option. The local private schools are, for the most part, very religious, churchy schools with goals being directed more toward church than education. The better private school options are at least 45 minutes away and that is a burden that I don't want to have to face five mornings and afternoons every week. I think that amount of travel time in a car every day will be irritating for us all.
So, I stand at the door of my original reasons for homeschooling and I regroup. I dig down deep and rediscover my heart and why homeschooling is important to me and my family, I rediscover myself and my children, and I do the best I can giving them all I have to give to make them happy and accepting of our decision to homeschool. I look at my doctor's reasons for choosing private school for her children along with my reasons for homeschooling my own children and find that, in the end, we both chose our respective paths for many of the same reasons and want basically the same outcomes for our children. I'll stand at this door to regroup and find myself proud of my decisions and my children and our family . I'll understand that on some days I'll have to dig down deep to remind myself that I am doing well, that my children are doing well, and their own doors of opportunity will appear in time and with the same promise as those doors built within the walls of public and private schools.
Being positive is the key. I should look to the positives in every situation, making sure that I find every shred of silver lining. I can positively see that the choices I have made so far have had incredible results. My children are cooperative, compassionate, they take initiative in pursuing their interests, they love reading, they love to get into discussions about many different things and I have spent quite a few school days doing only that. They are kind and respectful, helpful and full of goodness. I find that the opinions of others would never have stopped me from this homeschooling lifestyle in the very beginning and to give too much attention to those same opinions now is only belittling my efforts to provide in the best way I possibly can for my children.
I have to remind myself that I am stronger than I think, that I know in my heart I'm doing what I am meant to do at this stage of my life, that reconciling differences in opinions should only lead to a bit more enlightenment about what I already know to be true to my own life, and that things will work out in the end. They really will.