Tag Archives: parenting

The Comment That Combusted

I was browsing the local headlines yesterday and came across an article about a proposed senate bill that would allow teachers a reimbursement of up to a hundred dollars for supplies they purchase for the classroom. I commented on the article, and within the hour I was getting slammed with notifications of people replying to my comment. When I had the time to go back and read the replies, I was shocked by the number of antagonistic, inflammatory and outright insulting things people were flinging at me. What was my comment, you ask?

“I think this [reimbursement] should extend to homeschooling parents as well.”

I was called an idiot, was told that stupid people like me should have to put our kids in school because we are too dumb to teach our kids. Some poor soul wrote that my comment was the funniest thing he’d read all day (he really needs to read more, methinks). There was plenty more, but you get the gist. My knee-jerk reaction was to take these imbeciles to task and point out all of their misspellings and grammatical errors and pock-marked arguments (compliments of the public education system), but I didn’t do that. Then, I thought about slinging mud back; calling them idiots for calling me an idiot, but I didn’t do that. In a very uncharacteristic and unprecedented move – I did absolutely nothing. I just found it extremely…stupid…to argue with anonymous ass holes over a $100 reimbursement.

Obviously, it is still on my mind today. So, I am bringing it up here.

As a homeschooling parent, I am sick to damn death of the negativity slung my way. Why do non-homeschooling parents get so livid about the choices my husband and I have made with regards to OUR children’s education? It’s nobody else’s business. I wasn’t making a political or moral statement or judgment with my comment. My point was that, as a homeowner, a portion of my property taxes go to pay for the public education system – a system that my children don’t even participate in. In addition, I am hit up every year by my nieces and nephews to buy all sorts of things, from cookie dough, to wrapping paper to chocolate as part of fundraising for the public school system. Does that money get invested in my children? No.

Because we homeschool, we must purchase our own supplies as well. Beyond the basics of notebooks, pens and pencils, calculator, rulers, etc. etc. etc., we buy textbooks for each subject. We buy science kits and books for book reports, ink and paper for printers, memberships to math and language art computer programs, tutors for subject levels beyond our understanding. We PAY to give our kids a good education, and we are talking about a hundred dollar reimbursement. Why the hell not for homeschooling parents?

Yes, it is a choice to homeschool our kids, but it is also a choice to send your kid(s) to public school. As a parent, your child’s education is still your responsibility. Whether you choose to outsource that to the public school system is nobody’s business. I am not a public advocate for or against either. I don’t go around telling parents that they should pull their kids from public school, or that they are idiots for letting their kids go to public school. I expect the same treatment in return but very rarely get it, and that is unacceptable.

Homeschooling is the best thing for my kids. My son is far happier away from the un-stimulating and unchallenging environment of school. He is far happier away from the bullies who plagued him and the teachers who ignored him. And, he is three grade levels ahead of his peers because he is in an environment where he can progress at his own pace. I couldn’t drag him back to a school if I wanted. And that’s because HE IS HAPPY.

We are happy with our choice, with or without the damn hundred dollar reimbursement, and I’ll thank those opposed to our choice to keep their ignorant mouths shut.

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Something’s Gotta Give…

Boy, it is a tough juggling act – this game of life, and just when I think I’ve got a good groove, a solid flow, one of the balls drops, and it’s time to stop and start over again. This time, it’s the mother in me who is shamed.

I grabbed a pizza on the way home from work (a rare occurrence) because I planned to spend the evening working on my smoke detectors, which were all down with various issues from wiring to cleaning, etc. Anyway, after feeding my kids and cleaning up the kitchen, I let them roam free while I worked on the detectors, running up and down to flip breakers, etc. Oh, forgot to mention that my two-year-old is sick. So, she was right on my heels the entire time, whining and wanting to be held.

I finally called my dad to come over and help with a wiring issue I couldn’t figure out. This entire evening I kept enlisting my oldest son to look after his sister. His idea of doing that was doing every possible thing to annoy her and make her scream without actually hurting her. Take her blanket, hide her favorite teddy, stand in front of her whenever she tries to leave the loft, and so on and so forth. And he’d been doing this sort of thing for the past week or so, I’d begun to notice.

Now, common thought is that this is normal behavior between siblings, but I’m here to tell you: not between my children. My son has always been protective, loving and patient with his baby sister from the day we brought her home – to the point where he goes in her room and checks on her every night after she goes to sleep, because he is so worried that someone will steal her that he has nightmares about it.

I was so angry with him for creating stress instead of helping me that I sent him to bed an hour early. He marched to his bedroom, stared at me and then slammed the door. Well, not to be disrespected, I threw his door open and charged into his room. He ran to his bed and burrowed beneath the covers. I was so angry that I couldn’t even speak, so I turned around went right back out of the room and shut the door.

After I put my sick baby to bed and made sure she was sleeping, I went into the room next door to speak with my other baby, my 8-year-old baby. I sat on his bed and said, “You have had a real bad attitude lately and I don’t understand why.”

“There’s a reason,” he said, cutting me off.

I asked him what it was and the words just started pouring out of his mouth. I sat there and listened to all of the things he’d been feeling and thinking about and it dawned on me that I hadn’t actually sat and had a real conversation with my son in quite some time. Sure, we’ve chatted and laughed about little tidbits; we’ve played games, kicked the soccer ball around and watched movies and episodes of Dancing with the Stars, but to actually have a serious conversation about how he’s feeling about things in his life? It was clearly long overdue.

We sat there and talked for a little over an hour, each of us making promises to do things better with each other, and I tucked him in and went to bed, making my own mental list of things that needed to be put on the back burner, things that I needed to neglect instead of my babies.

Of course, my selfish heart started lamenting the loss of the amazing progress I’ve been making on my next book, the photos that need editing that will be pushed off, the downstairs floors that need sweeping and mopping (well…maybe not lamenting those so much), the book(s) I’ve been reading and want to finish, the text messages dinging from my phone…etc.

But soon my mother’s heart scolds my selfish heart into silence. There is give and take in any relationship, even in one between a parent and child. I just have to remember that it’s not about giving orders and taking advantage of the authority I have over these little people. It’s about giving the love that only a mother can give, and taking the wonderful memories to keep in my heart for the days when my babies are no longer running around my house each day, just looking for me to love them.

I take a deep breath and close my eyes, hoping that when I start juggling this time around, I will finally get it right.

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The Balancing Act

When I started this blog, I made myself commit to writing at least one post a week. That probably lasted about…oh…one week. I’ve followed other people’s blogs, people who post at least one thing a day.
Sometimes it’s worth the read, and other times it’s an obvious marketing ploy. Sometimes (and these are the ones I really hate), the frequent posters are so damn cute and clever. I just don’t fit. Here’s the thing – I’m not that interesting.

My private life is private, and my writing life is not really different from any other writer’s. I’m not qualified to give advice or instruction. I’m not cute enough to do…I don’t know…anything cute. I’m only clever part of the time (and mostly in a sailor-talk kind of way after a few drinks). Oftentimes, I find myself staring at a blank screen, chomping away at my fingernails trying to think of a topic to write about. After a few minutes of this I get frustrated and wonder: am I really that boring? Is there really nothing for me to tell you?

Probably nothing that anyone would care about. I grew up a lonely girl in a large family. There were always people around but I preferred my own company (probably how I ended up with very high standards for companionship and very little social skills). Even now, I wouldn’t consider myself outgoing. If I’m in a social setting involving strangers, I’m polite and cordial enough, but I only speak when spoken to, and I’m quite content to watch from the shadows and excuse myself early.

You wouldn’t know it by the posts on this blog, but my life is filled with drama: the literary kind I create and the other, everyday bullshit I try to avoid (did I mention the whole big family thing?). If I used this forum as a venting chamber, it would house the foulest pollution. But life is so full of negativity – myself included – that I try to use this blog as something else.

The part of me that is the writer, the artist, the dreamer – exists outside of my everyday world. Reading can be the conduit to escapism, but writing is absolutely vital to grounding. I have my roles, my titles (mother, wife, office rat, etc.) but the only part of me that truly encapsulates who I am as an individual is my craft – whether it’s music, or writing – any type of art. People have so many reasons for writing, and some of the popular ones resonate with me still. I have stories to tell, I have passion for words, and so on and so forth. But the real, the sacred, reason that I write is because I have to exist outside of my functions.

I’m not a naturally selfless person. Simply giving all of myself to my family and my job everyday doesn’t satisfy me (go ahead – throw rotten tomatoes at me all you mothers-of-the-world). I love my family, but they don’t define me. I defy any person to claim I don’t love my children 110% (and get ready for a slap if you do), but I DO exist outside of them. I am a person with thoughts and motivations and aspirations independent of the people I love most of all, and there is nothing shameful about that.

I could deny my deepest self, abandon my writing, my hopes for success in that arena, but to what end? Why pump our kids full of the reach-for-the-stars mentality only to abandon it the second we give birth to them? We raise our children and send them out into the world. When I was young, the idea of being a parent seemed like so much of a sacrifice. So much time dedicated to these little humans I’d create, but the truth of it is that you really don’t have much time to raise your children, and they will go on (as they must) and leave you to yourself. You spend more time with, and as, yourself than you do with your children. One of my favorite poems about parenthood is by Khalil Gibran:

Your children are not your children.
They are the sons and daughters of Life’s longing for itself.
They come through you but not from you,
And though they are with you yet they belong not to you.

You may give them your love but not your thoughts,
For they have their own thoughts.
You may house their bodies but not their souls,
For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow,
which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams.
You may strive to be like them,
but seek not to make them like you.
For life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday.

You are the bows from which your children
as living arrows are sent forth.
The archer sees the mark upon the path of the infinite,
and He bends you with His might
that His arrows may go swift and far.
Let your bending in the archer’s hand be for gladness;
For even as He loves the arrow that flies,
so He loves also the bow that is stable.

One of the foremost emotions that comes with motherhood is guilt. I often feel guilty that I don’t spend more quality time with my children. I must work and so am away from them ten hours a day, and when I get home I don’t feel like the jolly sort of playmate they would like. I do my best, though not as often as I’d like. It is a common thing for mothers to encourage one another to get away and have some “mommy time.” But with that comes guilt. (I should be at home with my kids instead of the movies with my girlfriends, or instead of this massage or lunch date). I always feel guilty for being away, but I never feel guilty for being me. I wish I made as much time for my writing as I did for my “mommy time,” (which isn’t much, I’ll tell you for free!).

The scary part about parenting (and writing!) is that you never know if you’re getting it right. But I think the most important thing in either endeavor is to be true to yourself. If you can’t hear the beckoning of your own soul, then the quiet and most beautiful moments of life will be lost on you.

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