When you say you have a love/hate relationship with homeschooling, most people automatically assume it has something to do with the daily grind of teaching your children. Little Johnny won’t pay attention or Hannah Homeschooler fights you constantly when it’s formal instruction time. It’s near the end of a school year and exhaustion has set in. The kids have spring fever. An academic challenge has presented itself. Mom no longer feels qualified to teach the children. The curriculum isn’t working. The schooling style needs to change.
If I were clever, I’d write a top ten list or something about why most people find themselves weary of homeschooling. Those articles tend to get a million hits and go viral. People love numerical list blog posts – The Listicle (Gee, thanks, Buzzfeed). However, I’m not that clever. I sit down often and try to think of a “Five Reasons Why…” or “Ten Ways To…” type of article and it just doesn’t happen. Hence, I’ll be forever stuck in blogging mediocrity according to the “experts” on how to properly launch an internet writing career. It kinda sucks because most of the freelance work out there I’d like to try my hand at requires pithy little lists. But I digress (kinda)…
Back to my love/hate relationship… My reason for finding myself “disgruntled” with the homeschooling thing is purely personal. The little voice in my head says I’m probably just selfish, but my Life Coach tells me not to listen to it. It’s the same pesky voice that tells me I’m a failure at most things and I’m fat. So, I can pretty much trust my Life Coach (and my husband and my mom and my little clique of friends) in saying that I’m not selfish, not a failure, and well, mostly not fat and that the little voice is the enemy trying to keep me discouraged. If you have a little voice that says terrible things to you, heed the advice of my life coach, tell the little voice to shut up, and save yourself the monthly appointments. Bible reference time: Read Romans 8:1 and Ephesians 2:10 (both full chapters are good, too, as I like verses in context).
So now there is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus. – Romans 8:1
For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago. – Ephesians 2:10
Anyway, I’m disgressing again. I’ve been up since 4:45am so I’m a bit all over the place here. I apologize…
My problem with homeschooling is that I find myself with little time for myself. Yes, that seems common among moms. I’m sure you are thinking I need to make time to go out with friends, get a break, etc. I do all that. I have my little group of friends and we hang out, we call emergency coffee dates, we go out for dinner or a drink. I’m part of a homeschool support group. I do all those things….
What I mean for time for myself is that I’ve been at this mothering thing for 9 years and I’m starting to lose myself. For four years, I coordinated the MOPS group at our former church. That was so very, very good for me. It allowed me to use the adult side of my brain. It allowed me to use different skills and giftings I have. It was a clear calling in my life. I loved almost every minute of it, but after four years I had to step away. I had poured myself out and needed to recharge.
So, the recharge is done. And I need to use the adult side of my brain. And I feel a new calling on my life that has to do with this writing thing. I know that God wants me to write at this time. For some reason, when I do, I get people telling me they enjoy what I write and they are challenged by it and they feel like they aren’t alone in their struggles. I don’t personally relish opening up myself so much and baring my soul constantly. Sometimes I feel really raw putting myself out there like this. But yet I know it’s what I’m supposed to do.
I feel called to write regardless of the audience size. Yet, I’d love to be able to make a career out of writing. I’d love to be able to contribute financially to our family (even just small freelance work payments – I’m not expecting to be JK Rowling anytime soon). I’d love to work on this and hone my skills and find my niche and establish a blog with a kinda decent sized following and maybe even get into some public speaking. I love public speaking. As introverted as I am, I enjoy getting up on a stage and sharing my story and encouraging others. I have three book ideas in my head that I’d like to develop. I’d like to officially get to say I’m a writer. Someone called me a writer a few weeks ago and that was the first time someone outside of my family said so.Then a friend last week called me a blogger. And I thought, hey, maybe I can do this. Maybe I am a writer.
But to establish a writing career, to find the time needed to do this properly is going to take some real time and dedication. And I’m having a hard time finding balance. Finding the time necessary to properly school my children, maintain my house, be a good wife, actually have fun with the kids, sleep, workout, call my mom, etc. It’s a balance all of us moms try to find, I know. But working on a writing career would mean I essentially would need to consider myself a working mom. My Life Coach said I won’t take it seriously until my husband and I see it as my career and that my job is as important as his. So, we are working on that mental shift.
I need to write – for me. I need to use the adult side of my brain – not just the mom components. I’m more than just a laundry attendant, short order cook, maid, and taxi driver. And yet I find resentment creeping in. I feel that’s all my life is currently and I need an outlet for me. I need to pursue something I’ve put on the backburner for 18 years. I ran into a college professor a few years back and she asked me, “So, are you writing still? Published anything?” I stood there and mumbled something about writing some articles for a newsletter and the occasional blog, but that motherhood had taken priority. I felt like a failure at that moment. I joke all the time about having a useless English degree. I don’t even believe I’m a particularly good writer. But yet, I feel called. I feel an absolute need to write.
Writing is good for my soul. My Life Coach calls it self-care. It’s the part of loving yourself that isn’t selfish but is needed for mental well-being and sanity. I need to find time for me… to find out who Mandi is after 9 years of mothering. I feel a bit lost in my little bubble at home. Yes, I’m a mother and I take that very seriously and I love my children, but I need more. I need to do something for me.
I think that’s why every time I read on a Christian blog that “motherhood is a calling” I cringe a little. It induces guilt that deep down that “calling” doesn’t fulfill me. It makes me wonder if something is wrong with me. If “motherhood is a calling” am I being selfish by wanting more? If “motherhood is a calling” and I also feeling that writing is a calling, can both exist in my life? And does that part of motherhood include homeschooling? The very act of schooling 2 and soon 3 children formally sucks up most of my free time. What is left to pursue this other calling? What time, what energy, what mental clarity do I have left to write?
I’m fearful I sound whiny and selfish here. I’m fearful I appear weak. I find myself in the comparison trap – Why can that lady homeschool, write, and be the perfect wife and mother and I can’t? Then again, I’m comparing my behind the scenes to her highlight reel… for all I know <Insert Homeschool Blogger Name Here> is a huge mess and her life isn’t as rosy as it appears.
I’m working on some solutions, and I’ll expound on those more in the coming days. I may have found a way to balance being homeschooling mom and aspiring writer. Maybe. We’ll see how that plays out in the coming weeks and months. I’ll just keep dreaming, plucking away at the keyboard, and see where this path leads.
Addendum: Okay, so maybe I do want a break from a child or two, too… to be completely honest. One is particularly challenging and the thought of a break is something I fantasize about. Insert your Judgy McJudge face here. But mainly I want to write. Yeah, mainly.