Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Decisions & School Daze {Part 2}: Know Thyself

Now here's a fella who knows who he is, stripes, plaids, black cape and all.

It's a Tuesday morning in January and I am all alone, writing this post and watching Kelly Ripa and Mary J. Blige host Live With Kelly. It's pretty much my dream. 

Do you know why I get to do this? Because I sent my kids to public school this semester. It's an abrupt departure from my life as a homeschool mom, a life in which I perfected the art of spinning plates all day long. Well, that's not actually true. I never came close to perfecting that art. Figuratively, I swept up shards of poorly-spun plates all day long. 

But still, that has been my life for the past four and a half years and this change has taken some fierce negotiating. Yesterday I was in tears. Today I am in bliss. And so it goes... 

Since making the decision six weeks ago, I've had a lot of time to think. Too often these thoughts hijack my brain at 2 in the morning and I cannot go back to sleep until I have made a teensy bit of peace with the problems of humanity. Or at least with the problems of my own tiny slice of the world. 

I don't know if I'll homeschool again in the fall or ever. I'm certainly open to the idea. My heart still beats as the heart of a homeschool mom and I will forever be grateful for the years we had together, living and learning at home. Part of me sincerely hopes we will get that opportunity again and part of me is scared about it.

Because if I go back to homeschooling one day, be it sooner or later, there are some things we'll need to change. 

I've had some thoughts about all this and I have come to grip them hard, these 2 am ruminations turning quickly into convictions that won't let me go. 

So I'm breaking this one into two separate posts. Here's part one of a series within a series that I am now breaking into sub-sections. {Help me. I am having visions of middle-school English class and how Roman Numeral I always needs an A. and that A. needs a tiny 1. and that tiny 1. needs a lower case a. I'm hopelessly lost within my own bloggy outline.} Just know that this post has a second part so you have to come back.


Nothing has taught me more about myself than having my kids with me 24 / 7. 

First of all, it's taught me that I am an introvert {disguised in an outgoing personality.} My Myers Briggs is INFJ. I'm barely an I but I'm an I nonetheless. I've learned that my words {when I'm homeschooling} typically run out by early afternoon and any conversation after that, with anyone, is doubly taxing. 

Quiet and solitude are my greatest luxuries. I would trade money for them. A lot of money. If I had it.

No amount of praying and hoping and tweaking has changed this fundamental thing. I know that part of it is just motherhood. Three years ago I read this post of Emily's and wanted to scream, Yes! That's it. That's exactly it. In Emily's words, The pressures of motherhood smoked the introvert right out of me. 

Me too, girl. Smoked it right on out of me.

I also learned that no matter how hard I pray and hope and self-talk, I am edgy and frazzled without some semblance of order. Because children are by nature rather disorderly, being a mom means I will never have the order I truly crave and that's a good thing. Learning to be flexible and live a beautiful life in the midst of supreme mess is one of the best things that's happened to me. 

But when it's all falling apart day after day after day, I'm also falling apart. God has surely seen me through and He continues to bathe my soul in peace, momentarily at least, when my surroundings look as though every inhabitant has gone stark-raving mad. Still, after four and a half years of having littles at home all the time, I've learned that a constant level of mess and disorder is beyond my threshold. 

And last but not least, I've learned that I want my kids to be independent learners as much as possible. In my early days of homeschooling I had visions of us doing crafts together and sitting around the table working out our math and writing and such, me as the mother hen and my sweet little chickies happily clucking about my apron strings. {Because in my vision, a chicken can wear an apron if she wants to.}

I did not know myself. Not at all.

I've learned that I love being creative and I love my kids but I do not love being creative with my kids. Not usually. That sounds awful but it's the truth. 

Also? Because I run out of words after lunchtime, I don't want to answer questions or dialogue much about anything, even when it's something I love like history or good books. 

Being peppered with countless questions and "help!" and "I can't find a pencil" and "She made a mean face at me" has a cumulative effect pretty quickly, squashing my passion to teach the kids about the American Revolution and to have meaningful conversations with them. I can more easily and lovingly teach them well when they are able to do a good bit of their work {sort of mostly} independently.

Confessing these not so virtuous traits about myself is humbling and a bit embarrassing. But I can't help but wonder if quite a lot of our frustrations as moms, homeschool moms or otherwise, stem from the fact that we're trying to reconcile who we want to be {and who we want our kids to be} with who we really are {and who our kids really are.}

I'm not saying you should simply throw off any notions of change and glory in your shortcomings. There is always hope for change. In so many ways, I'm not the person I once was. Thank goodness. God is so patient to continually work in my life. He shows me my junk, loves me in the midst of it all, and slowly but surely brings about change for the better.

And part of this change for the better has been acceptance. Accepting the frustrating uniqueness that is me, for better or for worse. 

It's silly for us to strive to be someone we're not. Silly and counter-productive and a total waste of time. Because the real you will always sneak down the chimney and hold you at gunpoint until you relinquish your fraudulent ways. Okay well that's a tad dramatic but you get the picture.

Knowing who you are and who you're not makes a huge difference. Huge. 

It's huge for lots of reasons but for the sake of these posts, it's important to know yourself before you can pay yourself. 

Yep, you need to get paid. What am I talking about? Tune in for the next post and you'll find out. 


  1. Wow, oh, wow! Could you come to TR and help me know my "introverted-but-not-really-able-to-be-because-of-my-life" self?

    Can an introvert stomp her foot every now and then?

    Can you hear/sense the frustration (and my nature to see it as totally self-serving)?

    This is a fantastic post, honey. Thanks for putting it into words.


    1. Oh mom, we are cut from the same cloth aren't we? Your words are my thoughts...and words. : )

      By all means, foot stomping is necessary.

  2. I can certainly identify with you - I don't homeschool, but being around our children certainly reveals our real characters and tears down any illusions we have about ourselves.

    I am very much an introvert so I was't taken by surprise I would run out of steam for interaction so planned my day around it when both were at home. But I hear you on the craft thing - thats me to a tee, expectations and reality!

    As my youngest heads off to school this year I have bittersweet feeelings - glad because she is ready, but sad because I didn't meet all my expectations with how our time at home together would be. But then that is the key - they were 'my' expectations and that doesn't make them the right thing!

    I appreciate your honesty. I came across your blog during the 31 days series and its an encouragment.

    1. Nikki, thank you for sharing. You're right, "our" expectations are probably not perfect...or even realistic. I'm guilty of that as well.

  3. My dear friend. I have just caught up reading your posts, and there's so much I'd like to say to you. First, a few things that don't really matter.

    --I love the fact that I am not the only one who would be embarrassed to have someone help me clean out my bathroom cupboards. Just 4 pair of tweezers? How can you live with so few?
    --I love that you have a new blender that is obviously so much better than the one on my counter--the one that sounds a bit like a jet getting ready for take-off.
    --I love that you are able to use "tam-o-shanter" in a sentence. Appropriately. And spelled correctly. You are a girl after my own heart.

    Now, more importantly:
    --I love that you are regularly seeing a counselor. Of course I know about some of your marriage struggles; you and I have talked about some of our similar circumstances. But that you are still seeing a counselor and are able to talk about it here? Shows that you are smart AND brave.
    --I love that I now have yet one more thing in common with you. I started homeschooling in 1996 and I loved it. LOVED it. I was so grateful to get to teach my sons to read and write and cipher. And to be the one who was always there for them. But then we moved away from our small town and our move included one disaster after another and my youngest suffered some developmental delays and my mother started a protracted time of dying and. . . and. . . I had to stop. Dear God, how I agonized over the stopping. But it was the right thing.

    I can't (and I wouldn't!) say "I know how you feel," but I think I can say that I know a little of how you're feeling. At least I know enough to say that it's amazing how many mixed emotions can fit into one small woman's heart. But I am so proud of you for being willing to listen and to trust.

    You're just wonderful.

  4. One more thing. I will admit this to you.

    When my oldest son got his SAT scores and then again when he collected college admission decisions, I proudly said, "I'm the one who taught him to read and write!" Yes, I did. Out loud. :)

    Love you.

  5. Oh how alike we are! And no wonder we're walking the same road these days. Mine start school on the 6th, they are excited and I have moments of sure bliss and moments of complete terror over it. But I know it's good, and I know God is going before us and I have a tremendous amount of peace over it all. But, it's still hard. And that's okay.

    (And I'm am so excited for some order in our house-and quiet. I love quiet. Part of me is over the moon excited about that. It's like taking a breath of fresh air after being cooped up over a too long winter.)

  6. Scooper,
    I love how well you write and I'll echo Richella's words about bravery. You are brave!
    I love how your mom got the first comment this time, too. 'Cuz she understands more than me, for sure, what a struggle this season is for you and as an introvert how challenging it has been.
    My prayer for you: that you would be open to the paths the Lord has set before you, soft in your heart towards the Man and your children, and find rest in God. (Oh and I'll ask that you remind me of these from time to time to, please.)
    I love you like a sister, God loves you more.

    1. Lynne, I don't know about brave. Crazy? Yes. I love your prayer for me...oh how perfect and thoughtful. That God will make me soft, I love that. I need that. Now you read what you wrote and internalize it for yourself. Love you!

  7. Okay, you know my wheels are turning with what you could do with your new free time. It involves words, but that's all I'll say. ;)

    I absolutely love the way you can so beautifully articulate your thinking process. And your words are so wise- so very, very wise! My heart echoed with them many times throughout this post.

    And thanks to Richella for her wise comment. The two of you should team up and create something to share your wisdom.

    I can't wait to read more!

  8. Hello sweet, concerned friend.....Zach told me about your phone message (and i lost your email, so am hoping you get this message here), but no need to be concerned.....we are in HAWAII!! See, now there is really no need to be concerned. we are here (with the kids) celebrating our 10 year-as this has been our plan for 10 years, to come here (and to still be married). Thanks for your concerns, truly. Poor max-that could definately cause some concern on the playground, since they missed a good bit of school. We start the trek home tonight. -Jordan

  9. yes. exactly. you speak the truth.
    i feel mostly the way you do, except i have 20 kids at a time, and by the end of the day. no. by the end of 9:45 i am D O N E.
    what have i gotten myself into?
    they won't do their homework
    or bring back the agenda
    and they want to take home novels
    that don't belong to any of us!

  10. I"m in that RAW place today too girl. Nap time 4 me.


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