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Everything I’m Not

We’re up to our eyeballs in South America today. I, sipping coffee and still in my comfortable fleece pj’s, am riding along the Orinoco River with some explorers from the 1980’s, blond mullets and all. We are spotting monkeys and macaws and learning about how this one tribe of natives hunts armadillos and brings them home on canoes to share with their people.

Armadillos. I had no idea.

Asher lost interest and is now sitting beside me with a reading and spelling app on our Kindle. The main character in his game is a monkey. I figure, it ties together with Venezuela somehow, right?


Yesterday, I heard something I hear more often than not, from wonderful parents, friends and fellow mothers – a friend said, you’re a saint. I could never homeschool.

Looking at my pajama clad, coffee drinking self, this morning, having spent approximately all of half an hour discussing what we’re going to do for a co-op social studies project on Venezuela, then letting my kids run with their ideas (after we finish eating breakfast and watching this fascinating documentary), I have to say, really? 

But then, I remember myself, a year ago, watching all of the projects and assignments Alex and Lila would bring home from school, watching them learning and growing in a public school environment, seeing all of the work that was going into their learning process and I remember having the same thoughts.

The truth us, some days, I’m a rockstar. Some days, we cover all of the subjects and we do special activities and we really get things done.

And some days, I am, well, not. Some days, I call it a win if we’re still in one piece when Dad gets home. Some days, it’s less structured, more crazy.

But then, that’s just life.

Life isn’t lived in a box on a shelf in the library where everything is neatly organized. Life is more like it’s lived in a giant snow globe, one that gets shaken up daily, landing you in different places and with different people and you just need to learn to do and learn and grow, wherever you are.

And though I know other people have probably covered such things in other blogs, for me, this is just a short list of misconceptions about homeschool moms. Not to be confused with the misconceptions of homeschool kids. (Please click that link, it’s hilarious.)

1. We are all more patient than you.

False. False. FALSE. Just ask my children, or my husband. No. Really.

2. We are all organized.

For me, anyway, this is just laughable. As a kid, I was the one shoving toys and dolls into whatever space I could find to hide them just well enough to get a nod from my parents that our room was “clean.”  As a college student, I was the one sitting down, without an outline or any idea what I was going to be writing about, and crank out papers with three hours left until they needed to be handed in.

Little has changed.

3. We are all natural teachers.

Uh. No. I’m a natural at certain things, but teaching isn’t one of them. And the things that I’m a natural at (writing, for example) I don’t know how to teach.

4. We want to shelter our children.

For myself, and most other parents I know who homeschool, this is actually the opposite. I want my children to be excited about life as a learning opportunity, and to know that education is not something that just happens between bus rides. I want them to not learn in a box made to fit every other child in our town, but to learn however works best for them.

5. We all know what we’re doing.

Truth is, I know about as much about homeschool as I did about parenting when I gave birth to Alex. It’s new to me and we’re fumbling through. I’m sure it will get easier and then harder, and then easier. I’m sure it’s much like life and parenting in general, something I will never be an expert at.

But, I will say, homeschooling has given me the opportunity to watch Lila go from a timid early reader to a more confident reader who will sit in her bed, surrounded by books. And I get to take a little credit for that. (Just a little.)

I have seen Alex grow from a timid, we didn’t do multiplication in second grade, student, to a kid who whizzed through a times tables sheet in 56 seconds. And, I was a small part of that. (Very small.)

And Asher, my little four year old, here’s a preschool book, play with it while I work with the older kids, Asher. The kid is starting, on his own, to sound out words and is eager to learn alongside Lila and Alex. He is excited about learning, at our kitchen table, and in our car, and at Walmart, reading the word “play” on a big Bear Claw machine. (And I get to encourage that!)

So, sure, I am an impatient, messy, disorganized, unsure of herself as a teacher, mother in pajamas, learning about Venezuela with my kids. But, tonight, there will be Bien Me Sabe Coco cake.

And I am a part of all of this wonder with them. Everyday.  I am not a saint. I am not a well-prepared teacher. I am not a rockstar. And any other parent out there who wanted to, could do it too.

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