Wednesday, December 16, 2009

sink or swim?

Yes, I know the drowning metaphor is now overkill, but it really shows how I feel these days; attempting to struggle to the surface to breathe but pulled down by unseen hands. From the moment I wake to the instant my head hits the pillow, the past few months have been a constant struggle. I'm hauling a 20 pound baby up and down the stairs, holding her struggling body to keep her from eating and ripping up everything, trying to get the older children to be peaceful and get their schoolwork done, attempting to keep Timmy's pants dry, and all the while being pulled at and shouted at, and fussed at by 6 children. I don't have a moment's peace. Ever.

Yesterday, even with a babysitter in the house minding the little boys, I googled the local Catholic school and actually called them. I'm sure I sounded hysterical, "I can't take any more!" and then made it worse by accidentally dropping the phone down the stairs ('cause of course I was carrying babydoodle too). I don't really know what sending them to school means since they haven't been since nursery school, but I know it means getting everyone out the door by 7:30am, packing lunches, helping with homework (sometimes taking as long as we do during the day now), and uniforms.

It also means a change in status for me and I'm not sure I like that part. No, I don't like doing the job of 6 people all by myself and I don't like feeling angry and stressed out all the time, but homeschooling has been my life for 6 and 1/2 years now and who am I if not a homeschooler? If we do this I want it to be a stop gap solution for the next year or two. I really love teaching my kids at home, but I just don't think I can do it with 4 kids, a toddler and a baby, no family, and a husband who works 12 hour days. What if I really like them in school (and out of my hair)? What if they do better away from me? Does that make me a homeschool failure? The only thing worse than seeing them flourish is if they fail. What if they can't do the work, make friends, fit into the parochial school culture? What then?

We expect a call from the principal next week and an interview/testing to follow shortly. I'll be writing lots of questions and fretting a great deal in the meantime. Please keep our family in your prayers.


Renee said...

Just a few thoughts from a mom that has homeschooled five.

Will (11) - unless special needs should be able to do most work on his own as long as it is in a lesson plan book.
Mary (9) -- same goes for Mary
# Maggie (7) - which leaves you with one that will need you for a lot of their schooling.
# Charlie (5) - focus on the basics or maybe do next to nothing academic this year; many states do not require school at this age
# Timmy (3) - sometimes educational shows can be your best friend.
# Julia Ellen, born March '09 ---- use a sling or a playpen when you need free hands. no child has ever been seriously harmed from playing alone in a playpen for a bit here and there.

And give a holler with more specifics on what is causing the difficulties. I have homeschooled with my dh deployed (well no wait it was mostly summer he was gone) but he has been gone 12 hr days at many assignments.....

don't give up.....

Anonymous said...

I can't believe it! I was on the local Catholic schools website this VERY DAY doing this exact thing. My kids have never been to a school, I don't know what it would be like. What my my life be like? I have 5 children, the baby is 3 weeks old. With my husbands commute, his work days are long. I have all the same questions you do! I will remember you in prayer.


Anonymous said...

I stopped homeschooling for the same reasons and do not view it as "giving up". It was the best decision for me and our family.
My children have adapted and are doing well.

I will pray for you all.

Debbie said...

I just want to encourage all the moms of many young children to HANG IN THERE. It gets easier. It really does.

Homeschooling has been such a blessing for our family of ten kids for the past 18 years. I don't think I do a particularly wonderful job of it. I know I could do better. But the very best part of homeschooling is what it does for our family relationships.

I had my first 5 children in 5 1/2years. I know how hard it is. My first 5 are now 21, 20, 19, 18 and 16. The oldest graduated from college in physics and is applying to grad school at MIT (among others). The second graduates in May and has applied to grad school at Carnegie Mellon (among others). I'm not saying this to brag, but to show you they'll be okay even if you don't always do all the phonics, reading and math you think you should be doing every day. Best of all, they're all still friends. And they thank me for homeschooling them...the best prize of all!

home handymum said...

When first considering homeschooling, I think the best advice I read was to remember that you are a wife and mother *first*, and a home educator *second*.

For me this has meant exploring a more relaxed, Eclectic, unschooly approach (especially the last 6 months - we have a 3 month old son as well as an almost-3 year old and an almost-6 year old). Setting the schooly things aside to focus on our family and it newest member was good for us - and it turns out the other kids have been learning maths and language without me monitoring every step!

But for you it might mean school, or just hanging in there. But you have to make the choice that is right for you and your family - be encouraged that you are an excellent Mother. Exploring all your options to find out if there's a better way is what mums do for their kids.

it is not 'failing' to have a season in a good school.

Diane said...

Whatever you decide to do let yourself be okay with it. Don't beat yourself up with any of the decisions you have in front of you. Take some deep breaths before you do anything drastic. I only have two children so it is hard for me to put myself in your position. But I have many friends with large families that homeschool. Try something simply at the first of the year, like Unit Studies or Charlotte Mason where everyone works together. I hope everything works out for you and you can get some breathing room.

Milehimama said...

Don't think of yourself as a "success" or "failure" at homeschooling. Ultimately, it's not about you! Your job is to direct the education of your children, and do what is best for them and for your family. That can mean homeschooling, and it can also mean entrusting education to others.

One more thought - bad days happen to everyone, and, in the case of potty training, bad "seasons", LOL. And, you can't give away what you do not have. You can't model peace if you don't have any. I would suggest, after your school interview, talking with a priest about it, too.

(and, if it's any help, I bribe my other children to help with the potty training. The toddler gets a candy for going potty - and the brother or sister get a candy for taking him and helping him with his clothes! Works for us.)