Please be kind, and assume the best of my words. I fiercely love and care for both of my children with all of my being.
When my husband and I married, we met a vibrant and wonderful homeschool group and that has always been what we wanted for our family. I feared I wasn’t cut out for it, but we declared our plan early on in our marriage. That made my admittance that it might not be what was best for us even harder. It stunk of failure, of a lack of self-discipline. I thought, “if only I pray harder and bear my crosses better, then I will be able to do this.”
I struggled so much with what is right to do for our family and the decision of whether or not to send my five year old to a Catholic School this year over homeschool for a plethora of reasons: my health isn’t great right now, I want to get my masters, I don’t seem to be offering her enough mental engagement to keep her happy, and my two year old was really struggling. I felt like a chump who couldn’t handle being a full-throttle catholic, like I was a lesser mom. Maybe I am. *shrugs*
School started last Wednesday, and ALREADY the special one-on-one time with my two year old is paying off in dividends. She was very prone to screaming and having outbursts under stress, which are normal for her age, though her older sister never had them. I chalked it all up to differences in personality and temperment. YES, I know kids are not all the same in one family. I assumed she simply had a shorter fuse. I was wrong.
Already, she has calmed down, talks more, and handles things better. Maybe its a coincidence, but I suspect that the special time together is the reason for the change. Just minutes ago, I laid her down for a nap and she blew me a kiss as I walked out the door, just as her older sister did when she was little.
I feel so guilty that she may have felt unheard, even though we have well-spaced kids. I am even more heavily considering how soon the two year old would be ready to be de-throned as the baby. She needs this time and I won’t be talked out of giving her what she needs because people feel she’ll “be fine” or “she’ll live,” nor will I give her the short end of the stick because I simply want another baby. It won’t be popular for me to have said this, but it is the truth. Yes, we are always open to life, we follow the faith 100%, but we are also capable of planning and exercising self control, as un-fun as that may be.
Catholics are literally always thinking about when the next baby should come; it’s our hobby. (Someone would make a killing on a dice with TTA/TTC/TTW/Take a chance on it.) My oldest was three when the baby was born, and she was ready to be a big sister! She was so excited. I want that for my current baby.
My mental health is so much better now, not that I was on the verge of a mental break. I just always felt like I wasn’t doing a very good job, even when others assured me I was. I constantly felt like I was going to cry any moment because I couldn’t manage all the tasks I needed to be managing with my sweet kindergartener underfoot. I don’t feel mentally out of breath. My oldest comes home tired, happy, and simply wanting to snuggle or talk about her day. She’s had her mind engaged, prayed, played with friends and I am much more patient and relaxed having gotten my day’s work finished. She and her sister are not jealous of each other now, but excited to see one another because they did not spend all day competing for attention.
I feel so right about this choice for our family right now, and want to tell other homeschool mommies, homeschool is wonderful and a gift but it’s OK if you can’t do it. It’s OK if it doesn’t work for your family. Don’t force something because of what others think or because you’re afraid of the effect of the world on your children. Both options are OK, and what is right for one kid may not be for another. I know that now. We may return to homeschool again one day if it is what’s best for our family, but rather than focusing on raising them a certain way, I will only be looking to do what is best whatever that may be.
It still bothers me that I can’t be the graceful, homeschool mother of nine that I envisioned before kids and marriage, but I think it’s a lesson from God. Even the image that LOOKS holy to you, that might not be where he’s calling you. You have to pay attention more and talk less.
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