Not The Mommy I Thought I’d Be

I wish I can remember the exact date when I wrote this. I believe it was sometime winter 2016 or early 2017.  Last year was a hard school year. New baby. New home. New routine. A lot of growth I had to do as a wifommy. This was something I wrote when in the thick of things. 

download-1I am not the mother I want to be. I am not the mother I thought I would be. wifommyhood is harder than I thought it would be. The dishes, the laundry, the education, and that is just the daily grind. Not to mention everything else! I yell more than what is effective.  My patience often comes after the fact.  I still suck at making lunch. And dinner? My husband no longer eats white (bread, rice, flour etc) which makes thrown-together-meals just about non-existent. I am increasingly behind in grocery shopping which seems ridiculous with only having a four person household. By 4 o’clock, I’m done! I’ve had it for the day. I want to do NOTHING! I don’t want to listen to anymore 8yr old thoughts. I don’t want to train a 14 month old on the importance of “listening to Mommy” and “don’t hit sister!” My husband comes home and I try not to be a shell of a woman for him but he has his own needs and I will often see him as someone else who needs something from me. I am thoroughly stumped with my life right now. I’d like to hope that this getaway I have coming up will help but I am not so sure.

Homeschoolers left and right showing accomplishment after accomplishment talking about “the magic of homeschool”. Bah! Can I get some of that? Feels like I’m slouching in at least two subjects with her (Jazmine) while our peers are taking field trips, completing projects and what not.

Next year, I will be the outsourcing Momma. Yes, she will have five subjects taught via tutorial or a co-op. Yes, she will be in “only” two extra curricular activities and not 3 or more. Yes, I will “only” be teaching 3 subjects at home. Yes, I will be looking into house cleaning help sometime this summer. Yes, I will leave the house to come home and expect it to be clean. No, I will not be ashamed. Why? Because I am going to remember this time in my life right now and know why we are doing what we are doing.

Update: I am outsourcing 5 subjects. She “only” has two extracurricular activities. I did have someone clean my house after we moved it. I have learned that others decisions for their household is not a judgement against mine. Amen!

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I Think I Grew Today

It was a Friday.

I was scheduled to spend the night away at a conference that evening. I planned on dropping my girls off at 4PM. My plan for the day was to get in a days worth of school while I tidied up some and packed for my night away.

I had planned on doing some preparing the night before but fell asleep on the couch so I wasn’t ahead of the game.  I decided to go back to sleep after baby Grace woke up for her 5AM meal. She went back to sleep around 7:30AM. I missed my opportunity to get ahead again.  I chose to sleep.

School went well.  Jazmine was prepared to learn. I chose an easy subject to begin our day with. Health. Well, that was not as easy as I thought it would have been. During the lesson, she got one of the comprehension questions incorrect.  I told her to go back through what she read to find where they talked about the question so she could find the correct answer.  That was a HUGE deal. She did well. It took her some time but she got it. I didn’t realize at the time that that was a comprehension lesson within the actual school lesson.

The health lesson was about respecting others and this section spoke specifically about respecting the United States Flag. Somehow, we got on the topic of culture and that led to talking about the Pilgrims, and that lead to talking about Native Americans. We had a mini history lesson within health!  It was great learning but that simple subject, which I projected to take all of 20 minutes and that was being generous, took an entire hour!

Next was math. Again, she did well.  To help keep Jaz focused and not day dream, I used a timer and gave her 15 minutes to do the front side and 15 minutes to do the back side of her math sheet.  She already understood the concept so it was just a matter of her staying focused to do it. She finished and I went to check it. By that time, I was tired. I already didn’t want to have school that day because I was already tired but since this weeks school was sporadic, I didn’t think we could afford a “parent-teacher conference”.  So, I pressed on. Between the combination health, history, comprehension lesson, attending to baby Grace, washing clothes, packing the girls up, and tidying up, I was worn out! I still hadn’t packed for myself yet! I went to check her math and just totally bombed.  I misread a math problem on the paper and tried to tell her it was incorrect when it actually was correct.  To make the matter worse, even though I misread the problem, she verbally answered the problem correctly as I was saying it out loud. That is when I called it quits.

I said, “That’s it Jazmine. That is all Mommy can do for the day.  I will leave this out and ask Daddy to check it when he gets home tonight.” If I had tried to “push ahead”, no more real learning would have occurred.  The only meaningful thing remembered from that day would have been Mommy’s frustration and my off spring thinking she had done wrong.

It was hard for my linear thinking mind to not complete a plan or task that I began and expected to complete in the time frame I set for it but I am OH SO VERY GLAD I stopped.

I only wish all the significant learning that happened today could be quantified for our homeschool review…

 

 

No Schooling Is Easy

Jazmine is the only homeschooled child in our peer circle. Outside of our homeschooling community, she has no homeschooled peers.

This can be challenging because her peers usually talk about how great going to school is. They talk about how they get to raise their hand in class, take the bus in the morning, change class rooms, and see all of their friends. All this bragging usually leaves my homeschooler feeling like she is missing out on all school has to offer.

I have talked about how this pregnancy has not been easy. Adding homeschooling to the mix of pregnancy fatigue, moodiness, aches and pains, does nothing to enhance the experience in a positive way. I have often considered that it might be better for Jazmine, and myself, if I sent her to school instead.

I started to suffer from stinkin’ thinkin’.  I began to think that afternoon homework would be easier than homeschooling for a few hours.  I began to think that Jazmine would do better without me.  I began to think that, a charter school schedule would allow for her to get outside play time everyday and not just when I was up to it.

Praise God for clarity!

I have read too many Facebook posts from parents who have nightly struggles with homework.  Too many posts that do not like their child’s learning environment. Too many posts where parents fill in the voids of schooling with other enrichment activities.

I have read too many posts to believe that ANY school is easy.

Hard times in school come to us all regardless of how we choose to school our children. Some concepts are going to kick our butts.  Some subjects are going to be nightmares.  Some schedules are going to be hard to bear at different stages of life.  We struggle through it.  We push through it.  We persevere. Period.

There is no easy out. There is no alternative that makes it all go away. Parenting is hard work.  That does not change.  If its not a school struggle, its a discipline struggle.  If it’s not a age related struggle, its a time management struggle. Nothing makes it disappear. So do not despair. Plow ahead.  You are doing great!

 

I Have More Cracks…

I get scared to write stuff sometimes.  Once it is written and out there, it’s gone and can’t be taken back. I once wrote about a vision God gave me about a cracked pot versus a perfect pot each with a candle in each. I used to strive so hard to be the perfect pot until God showed me that the perfect pot shines finitely.  It’s brightness comes out the top of the pot.  The cracked pot shines brighter because of all of the holes in it.

I stopped trying to be perfect that day and let His shine come through all of my cracks.

At that point in time, I thought I had discovered all of my cracks.  I thought that by that point, all my cracks were clearly defined and there weren’t any more to be added.

I was wrong.

I’ve never verbalized this to anyone. I have heard it said before only once in my adult life but I didn’t truly co-sign to it when it was said then. I believed it but was afraid of whom I would offend by declaring it aloud as my own thought. What I have to say goes against the grain.  Most would say it is extremely unkind, dispassionate, and un-Christ-like. Of course I disagree. It is the truth, relationships are messy, and just because a thought isn’t popular doesn’t make it wrong.

Here goes.

It is possible to be friends with a peer and not like that peers children.  (It is also possible to enjoy someones child and not be able to tolerate that child’s parent but that is not the scope of this post.) Notice I said it is possible and not that it is successful.  In our culture, we are all or nothing.  If you say you are my friend then, in our culture, that automatically means you like my children.  By like, I mean you are willing to watch them when that peer needs to be elsewhere without her children, and that you are willing to engage family to family and not just one-on-one. Here is where it gets messy.

If I met a peer at work or in any other arena where you just see me, all we would do is have one-on-one interactions. Family mingling would be rare and both parties would be okay with that. When you deal with SAHM, homeschooling families, or any other family dynamic that has a would-be-peer in constant touch with her children, family to family interaction is the only way to go without having to jump through hoops to get some alone time. Trust me. I get that completely.  My point is that because it’s an all-or-nothing culture, if I don’t like ones children, or I don’t like them around my child, then, usually, I am deemed at fault for not being more sensitive, kind, caring, considerate etc etc.

Welp, I’m done with all of that. I am not saying there is anything wrong with how peers, or would-be-peers raise their children, interact with them, discipline them, or love on them.  I am saying that something about the whole family dynamic rubs me the wrong way where I don’t need to be around the children or the peer + children combo for more than 5-15 minutes before a bad taste sets in my mouth and I need to remove myself.

Now, to be fair, I have no problem if another peer needs me to be their one-on-one peer and not a family dynamic peer. If you don’t like my child for whatever reason (even though I, like most parents think she isn’t the one with the problem, you are) I’m okay with that.  Why? Because if  you don’t like Jazmine, I don’t want you to be around her either! Duh!

We can peer-to-peer interact on the phone (mostly) or whenever we are able to get out and interact face-to-face.  Granted, our friendship may not develop as deeply until we are able to get past the fact that inter-family mingling is not a positive for us. However, if both peers grow through that, there could be a lot more friendships on the horizon.

I am truly blown away by how many women base wether or not someone is a good friend on if that person watches their children. What kind of malarkey is that? Being an encourager on the other end of the phone, or a jokester, or your WalMart running buddy isn’t enough unless you provide childcare when needed? Nope. Not okay but, I understand that that is the acceptable norm.  I’m just not buying into that anymore.

I know I am not alone because of that brave sister who, only earlier this year, voiced the same thing. Our culture would have me to believe that we might be the only two out there who understand this but I don’t think we are.  I realize that this adds yet another crack to my pot that I did not know was there.  So, of course, since this entire train of thought goes against the grain, I seem even more defected. Oh well. Jesus can shine through this crack too 🙂

Dear Snobby Homeschool Mom

Dear Snobby Homeschool Mom,

Let me begin by first saying that I am not in opposition to you or your choices for your household.  I am not coming against you for your choices.  I do, however, not appreciate how you go about declaring your choices.

As a parent, you decide what and how much technology (TV, mobile devices, computer, etc) your child is allowed to partake it.  As a parent, you decide what curriculum you use for your child(ren). As a parent, you decide what fashion indulgences you allow your offspring to show to the world.

Those are your decisions for your household and rightly so.  I take no issue with your choices.

However, at every homeschool gathering, I do not need to nor do I want to hear your dismissal of all things other than what you do in your house.  In speaking about your curriculum choices, it does not need to be said how much you loathe another.  Specifically speaking, you do not need to trash a math curriculum that you know another family uses!  That is rude.  You should not need to trash another in order to make your choices seem more relevant.

You don’t need to talk about the amazing field trips you and yours take without offering the same information to others in the group.  We are a homeschooling community.  Your family doesn’t have to take other families with you on your trips if you prefer to go it solo but sharing that information does not cost you anything.  I am pretty sure I am correct in assuming that someone else told you or made you aware of more than half of the information you know.  Share and share alike!  Quit the hoarder of information attitude.

You have made it abundantly clear that your family does not watch television.  At every opportunity, you’ve made it known that you don’t even own a television.  I get it. Good for you! It takes great sacrifice to do without something if you have grown to rely on it. Again, I do not fault your choices but tooting about the absence of television in your home and how that is so beneficial for your children after a conversation centered around the next episode of Big Bang Theory, is ill timed. It did not need to be said and it certainly did not need to be said at that time.

It is hard enough to homsechool in an environment that causes us to defend our position. We should not have to defend ourselves amongst ourselves. You don’t have to agree but you also don’t have to speak your disagreement.

Homeschooled Not Standardized

The Lord’s words come to me at the oddest of times.

LamborghiniA woman’s mind works faster than a Lamborghini! (That is assuming a Lamborghini is one of the fastest cars.  I’m not a car chick so I wouldn’t know and I do not feel like doing the due diligence Google search to find out for the purpose of that sentence).  We can think on and about several hundred different, yet connected, things in our mind within the space of a few minutes.  I was on that Lamborghini ride of thought when the Lord cut in.

At the time, my thoughts were swirling about homeschooling, the curriculum purchases I made for the upcoming year, and how Jazmine compared to other kindergarteners.  I knew I should not have been comparing her but found myself skirting that line of thinking. I was thinking about all of this while brushing Jazmine’s teeth this morning.

First graders attending Zeta Public Elementary School can be compared with the first graders in Tau Public Elementary School. The third graders in Mrs. Chin’s class at Hanover Christian Academy can be compared to the other third graders in Mr. Lin’s class at the same school.  Both first graders in each school use the follow the same curriculum.  Both third grade classes at Hanover use the same curriculum.  They are following the same syllabus. The difference is the teacher and the classroom environment.  The subject, topic, and main points are all the same!  A first-grade parent of a child going to Zeta should have a lot in common with the first-grade parent of a child going to Tau when they discuss the woo’s of the first grade science project.  The science project is the same assignment for every first grader in every public elementary school in that state.  A parent of any third grader at Hanover Christian School will be familiar with any subject, homework, or test difficulty any other third-grade parent brings up because their children are following the same course outlines.

Homeschooled children can not be compared to anyone.  Each homschooler is different.  A family of five can use five different curriculums depending on the needs of each child and that’s just in ONE family!  Jazmine does not know currency yet.  She does not know the value of a nickel, quarter, dime etc. I picked up a Kindergarten math review book I was considering for the summer and it had currency problems in it.  I immediately felt like I had let Jazmine down.  She doesn’t know that and it seemed like every other Kindergartener was taught something that I missed.

God’s words broke through my haze.

Jaz isn’t behind.  She is right on par with learning math the way my husband and I decided we wanted it presented to her. She can count by fives and, in her math curriculum, will be learning currency in the fall.  Homeschooling isn’t standardized!  If you use Apologia science for third grade, you will learn Zoology the entire year.  Someone else will be using Abeka science and will not be learning Zoology for the entire year.  Those two students can not be compared to see who knows more.  They are both using good science curriculums and learning good stuff.  They are just not learning the same stuff at the same time.

This was such a freeing moment for me.  I hope it encourages you personally or use it to set someone else free from the comparing game.

I HAVE HAD ENOUGH DOGGONIT!

I'm giddy with excitement!

I’m giddy with excitement!

I thought maturity came with age.  More specifically, I believed that with age came a change of ones nature.  That is not true…at least not in this case.

As a child, I sectioned my school year into parts: new school year excitement, my birthday, Thanksgiving, Christmas/New Year’s, Presidents Day, Martin Luther King Jr’s birthday, Valentine’s Day, Spring Break, Memorial Day, and the last day of school.  (Do you notice a theme?)

As a homeschooling momma, I thought I would evolve from such school calendar breakdowns, and focus more on the work and learning. Nope. I am surprised and disappointed to announce that my homeschooling year is still broken down in those sections in my mind.  My thought process is still ‘I just have to push real hard from now until the next break’.

I found myself being short with Jazmine today, which is really unusual because we were tackling new concepts.  I was puzzled.  My first thought is usually, it must be my period coming. But that wasn’t it. I’m not stressed.  No, I’m not pregnant (unfortunately). Then I realized that next week is Thanksgiving. Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday.  If I was still in school, I would be having a hard time focusing due to being distracted from all the tempting food recipes I want to try, the family I get to see, and the fun times ahead.

And that, ladies and gentlemen, is what I am experiencing now.

I literally take off.  It’s a good thing I don’t have a job because I would get fired every year around this time. I put my family on notice that I am not cooking next week. I make my designated dishes for the big day but up until then, they aren’t to look to me for a meal. No one will starve but I better not hear any lip about breakfast, sandwiches, or make-it-up-as-I-go-along items for dinner next week. After Thanksgiving, it’s leftovers through Saturday.  Dinner will resume Sunday.

I keep telling myself that this is the last week of school until the week after Thanksgiving.  I keep trying to encourage myself to keep it up.  It’s not working. I want to stop now. On our original school calendar, I have us doing school both Monday and Tuesday of next week. Not a full day but just some math and reading. HA! She will read.  She will read the guide on the television while we catch up on Sophia the First.  She will do math. 1/2 cup of flour plus + 1/2 cup of flour = 1 cup of flour.  And depending on what we are making, that will count for science too!

This is my sign.  Feel free to use in your homes :)

This is my sign. Feel free to use in your homes 🙂

I am DONE with school.  I have checked out.  Even when I was in school, I would do my best at the beginning so the closer it got to break, my tried-to-avoid-it-but-always-got-me-in-the-end slacking off wouldn’t bring my grade down to C level. I couldn’t shake it then, and I don’t seem to have matured enough with age to shake it now.

Just two more days.  JUST TWO MORE DAYS and I can put school away for an ENTIRE WEEK!

A close-up on the sign.

A close-up on the sign.

I want to gorge myself with every Thanksgiving and Christmas special they have while watching popcorn and sitting on the couch with my girl.

No more teachers!  No more books!  No more Mommies with dirty looks!

Who’s with me!

Proverbs 16:9

God hears each prayer we pray.  He hears the desperate plea and the request made in haste.  He holds them all in his hand.

A few months back, I asked the Lord to help me internalize His word.  I want to live and be what He says and not just know what the Bible says. I prayed it in earnest a few times then moved on to something else.

My husband began to come down with something earlier this week.  We were slated to be out of town for a few days and I did not want a sick husband on the trip. I tried my best to help him kick it before the sickies settled onto him.  Praise God He was better before we left and never really got sick.  I have been diligent with Jaz’s wellness routine to avoid her pre-autumn sickies and Praise God she has, thus far, avoided it completely.

I was not as fortunate as my family.  I started to feel the sickies and I immediately went on the attack. Stupid sickie fought back and my perfectly planned weekend packed full of preperatory things to get done was shot to bits.

The sickies got me.  I fought valiantly at the first.  In the middle of the night, I got up from bed as soon as I felt my throat began to get sore and started medicating. This morning, I medicated again and  plugged on with my day. One item on today’s list was a pre-planned field trip with homeschool friends. The field trip was outside.  I have allergies.  Yup.

I got home and made dinner.  By the time dinner was finished and I sat down for a few minutes, the sickies had me. I made arrangements for Jazmine to be taxied to AWANA, made my apologies for a dinner I was not going to be able to make, and sat my tail on the couch.

I had another set back this week as well.  I packed our homeschool supplies for our trip and left the darn book bag with said supplies at home. I hate having to go off script but found myself having to be creative (yuck) on my own.

Since the onset of the sickies, I remembered

Proverbs 16:9 A man’s heart plans his way, But the Lord directs his steps.

I planned my way but my way was not God’s direction.  My plans were not dishonoring to God so why couldn’t they remain?  I have no idea but I do know God’s direction is best even if I don’t enjoy it’s beginning.

God remembered my request to internalize His word even though I had long since forgotten.  I keep repeating this verse over and over as I live it out camped out on the couch resting from this sickie.  God orders my steps; even if He is leading me to the sick bed 🙂

 

 

Put The Worksheet Down!!!!!!!

I had it all set.

I laid out the work to be done in the subjects we were covering today.

Things were going as planned.

I started to see the light at the end of the lesson.

She was engaged and enjoyed it.

Then…I made a mistake.

We are to do one-side of two worksheets per school day. I got a bit carried away because she was doing so well and forgot that she was only to do the one-side. That proved fatal because the other side a change-up to a concept she previously learned.  It threw her for a loop and there was uncertainty laced with tears coming from my Jazmine.

I explained it well and built up her confidence and she handled it like a champ. Unfortunately, my slip-up happened smack dab in the middle of our school day and its timing made for a slower moving remainder of our school day. She was no longer enjoying it.  I was no longer enjoying it BUT we had one more page to do.

Jazmine’s linear thinking Momma wanted so very badly to have her complete that page for completion’s sake. I looked long and hard at that worksheet. I kept it out for about an hour trying to figure out how I would re-engage Jazmine to finish up the day. In the mean time, my husband started teaching her how to play Skip-Bo.  That was an extra math lesson for the day.  I am not complaining.  That lesson was extremely helpful and enjoyable for both of them.

I looked at my husband and Jazmine and looked back at the lowly worksheet and put it away for tomorrow.

Something like that would seem so easy to do but it proved difficult for me. I ended up having to yell ‘PUT THE WORKSHEET DOWN’ to myself followed by a self-talk about the purpose of learning. The purpose of learning is not to complete a stinking worksheet.

Sloppy Success

I heard a quote a few days ago that said, “I’d rather have sloppy success over perfect failure every time.”  It struck a resonate chord in me.  Prior to me hearing that statement, I also heard this said.  “A budget is a tool.  It can be adjusted.”  In the words of Gru from Despicable Me, Light bulb!

A week before that, I was preparing Jaz’s curriculum for school this year. I was stressing over it because it was too much work to do in the time I originally alloted for.  I worked it and worked it and worked it until all I could do was throw my hands up and surrender. It would not work in days I alloted for.  I had to accept that I could not do it my way.  I had to do what was best for Jazmine.  Once I surrendered to that knowledge, I felt a tremendous weight leave my shoulders.

A stressed mommy makes a poor teacher.  I pressured myself not to pressure her which did nothing but cause us both a poor view of school.

School starts August 19.  I marked it on my calendar but as I started to plan the rest of the month, I began to fill in more summer fun activities during that week.  For a moment, I thought, “What am I doing?  We can’t go there?  We can’t do that?  We are in school!”  But then the epiphany came and I realized we can do those things!! We should do those things and we will do those things!

We can go peach picking after school.  We can go to the petting farm after school.  We can go hang out at the mall after school.

The last two years, I was going for mastery with Jazmine.  Poor baby. The first is always a learning experience. This year, we are going sloppy success.