May 19, 2006

Ahh, That's Better

Hey! Do I look any different?

Oh, that's right, you can't see me! Duh!

Well, if you could you would see that I am wearing my new glasses. I can't believe how nice it is to actually be able to see clearly and read without getting a headache. WOW! The wonders of modern medicine.

I went yesterday for an eye exam and it confirmed what my husband has been telling me for two years, "Dear, you need glasses." The down side to essentially wearing magnifying glasses on your face is, I can see just how many eyebrows I missed plucking and, HOLY MOLY, check out the wrinkles! It's fine though because I can see the computer screen without my eyes getting all wonky and caveman eyebrows are actually very fashionable.

The other day I was reading over at Mamabear's Den and her post about slowing down struck a chord with me. Many of you remember last fall when we decided to put the kids in school for a while and the turmoil that I was in over that decision. Looking back on that experience I can now say that it was the best thing that I have ever done. Not because I wanted to get rid of my children for 7 hours a day but because of the perspective that it gave me.

I realized that I was not only pushing myself beyond what was reasonable, I was pushing my kids beyond what was reasonable, too. There was no joy to our school days. None. Zip. Zero. Zilch. You get the idea.

The thing is, you can go on for a while doing what feels wrong, what feels contrary to the goal that you originally set out to accomplish. I thought I could bend myself, and subsequently my boys, into something that we weren't. We bent for a while, and then we broke. Or rather, I broke. I broke under the yoke of my own very high standard and it hurt. A lot.

Faced with the realization that I could not do or be everything, I had a choice to make. Do and be the best that I possibly could or do nothing. That's not to say that I lowered my standard of what I wanted for my boys, I lowered the expectation of what was reasonable for us. I did something.

That something was to take a step back and say, "Why am I homeschooling my children? What is the goal?" Is my goal to have little geniuses who can quote Shakespeare and do Calculus at 11? Or is it my desire that my children learn at their own pace, enjoy what they are learning, remember what they have been taught and seek to be life long learners? The latter, most definitely. I am not suggesting that we skip things because we deem them too hard. Character is built in doing the hard thing. Satisfaction comes with accomplishment.

I also let go of my feelings that my homeschool has to be like Mrs. So and So's homeschool. We are not the kind of family that is going to read aloud for 5 hours a day. If you do, my hat is off to you, really, it is, but we are not that family and, you know what, that's o.k. We are not the family who is going to keep dead field mice in our freezer and later dissect it and that's o.k. We are not the family that is going to start our own quartet and go on a singing tour of the southeast and that's o.k., too.

We are the family that loves to be together. To do school at the beach. To turn skateboarding into a life lesson about yielding to others and being considerate. To set up a tent in the backyard and camp out. To go to garage sales and teach our children about frugality and the value of saving money. To bake brownies together. To ride bikes together. To laugh together.

The other thing that I have realized is that if I want things to change, I have to change them. My role as the mother is to teach, to set an example. My kids are kids, they don't know any better, I have to teach them, to mold them, to give them the tools to do what I expect of them. Do I blow it? Absolutely. Do I sometimes want to hide in the bathroom with a bag of jelly beans. Shyeah. But. Do I get up and begin again? Yes, sometimes just because I have to but mostly because I want to.

There is no way to teach our children everything in the world and honestly, why would that be necessary? I will be 35 this year and I am still learning. Teach them instead to love learning, love learning for learning itself.

Don't dwell in the past, it prohibits you from accomplishing what you have set out to do. Believe me, I do not have it all together but everyday I pick myself up, dust myself off and start all over again. That's really what it's about. As Churchill said, "Never, never,never, give up."

Look to the finish!


Writing and Living said...

Great post, Laney.

Kevin said...

Thats my girl!

mamabear said...

Oh My Gosh!!!! I needed to hear all of that more than you could possibly understand. (then again, maybe you do...) :-)
You are a wise woman, and the things you spoke, cut deep into my heart. Like Mary, I will take your words and ponder them in my heart. Thank you for speaking which I believe God whispered in your heart to write.
Thank you, thank you, thank you.


Jules said...

What a great post, Laney! You hit the nail on the head in so many ways.

I especially like what you said about taking a step back and asking why you homeschool. Figuring out that you don't necessarily want mini-einsteins but rather well-loved children with a passion for learning- that is awesome.

Thank you for writing this- I hope to be able to use some of it when Derick and I "discuss" the issue again.

sleeplessinoklahoma said...

You are a keeper!!! Keep up the good work. You are such a wonderful Mom...God knew what he was doing when He gave the little men to you.
I am so proud of the work you do with your homeschooling, it is just awe inspiring.
Have a wonderfully blessed weekend.


mindy said...

Wise, wise words, Laney!! By the way, I think I may need glasses too. :-(

RANDI said...

I love this post, Laney, it is very encouraging. Thanks!

Jersey Girl said...

Courage may just be saying, "I'll try again tomorrow." You are very courageous! I am proud of the woman you are.