Thursday, August 09, 2007

Why am I doing this?

I was reading Cheryl's blog today and her comment about "Where have we been?" really got me thinking about how far we've come in our homeschooling journey.

It's amazing for me to look back at where we started and see how our lives have morphed during all of this. I started out refusing to homeschool, thinking that people who did such things were just insane. After all, you can't protect your kids from the world. It's ironic that the only reason I started looking at this possibilities was for that protection.

Lorna went to the kindergarten at the LCMS church we were attending. She was harassed by a little boy who would go around pinching the behinds of all the little girls. He would also go around hitting them "below the belt". Our daughter decided not to take it any longer and hit back. Of course she was the one who got into trouble and we were asked to pick her up. During our talk with the teachers it came out that they knew this boy was doing it but wouldn't do anything about it. We sent her back to school the next day with assurances that they would separate the two kids. A few days later I was called again to pick her up. At this point I was upset and went to talk to the two pastors whose office was adjacent to the classroom. They were sympathetic and said they would look into it. They didn't and the problems continued. This was the final straw that pushed me to realize that we couldn't continue to expose Lorna to such things, especially when she was being blamed for standing up to this child. I thought we could try this homeschooling thing for a year and see what our choices were then.

Six years later we are committed to doing this for the long haul. It only took a few weeks into that first year when we decided that this was the life for us. It was my first experience with being a SAHM too so we had some serious adjustments to make. Our first year was so structured, I really tried to recreate a classroom. I can look back and see how overboard I went, planning our life down to the minute. I had just finished up 2 years of teaching jr/sr high school age kids, so I was determined to teach my daughter to sit still and pay attention. It took awhile for me to realize that I needed to lighten up. It's a good thing I practiced on Lorna first because there is no way Malachi could have made it through that first year!

I'm still fighting with the idea that I should be out contributing to the household income. I look at the faces of family and friends who hear about Paul's second job and I feel their accusing stare. I know I'm imagining it for some and I am seeing the truth in others. Maybe someday I will be able to completely let go of society's expectations of me. This last year has been the most difficult for me in this regard. I was the odd one in our neighborhood before we left CA, no one else stayed home with their kids. When we left and moved to Indiana I found an entire community of SAHMs, that's what most people did. When we came back here I found myself back in an environment where I am asked, "So what do you do for a living?" I haven't run into one other woman who stays home, let alone homeschools. I realized this week that this is adding to my negative attitude the past few months, I feel so alone.

Thankfully I'm not alone. I'm somewhat active on a Lutheran homeschooling email list, Loopers, and I have lots of blogs to read from some of the people on that list. Now all I have to do is find a way to make it to the get-togethers that always seem to be held in the Midwest!


Susan said...

I know what you mean about feeling the need to contribute to the family income. I keep trying to convince myself of something I know in my head to be true: we do contribute to the family income by not spending it and making it stretch further. That in itself is worth more than could be made at a full-time entry-level job. But with the peer pressure of society, it's hard for us to really believe that our mommy contributions amount to something financially worthwhile.

Cheryl said...

You should NOT feel guilty about staying home with your children. If my dh could work a second job to keep me from having to do so he would. But his church job is like two jobs already (and he supplements that with piano teaching, playing for weddings & funerals, composing, etc.). So there is just no time for him to make more money. As much as I would like to be a purely SAHM we are just not able to do that, in part due to the extremely affluent and costly community in which we live and the low value that society places upon my husband's vocation and in part because of life and financial decisions made in the past that are still affecting us today.

You and your dh are a team and you are clearly functioning as one. You have decided what is the best role each of you can play in this marriage and family partnership, and you are each fulfilling that role to the best of your ability. Anyone who doesn't appreciate that doesn't deserve any explanation from you. God bless you both in your most important vocations!

elephantschild said...

Nothing profound to say, other than to add that I also often feel like the odd one out. I do work part time from home, and it stinks. But, just like Cheryl, my Dh's first job makes it impossible for him to add another job. He'd love for me to be able to quit, but it's just not possible right now.

And sheesh, what was with that kid in Lorna's kindergarten class? Yikes.

Kim said...

I wish I could find a job to do from home. I used to do math tutoring before we left CA and moved to IN, but the area we are in now just isn't affluent enough. Full timers struggle here which is why I haven't found another SAHM.

Dh's job is one that doesn't have set hours which made it difficult to find a 2nd job. He is working 10pm to 6:30am so that it won't conflict. Since we only have one vehicle and kids that aren't old enough to stay home alone I couldn't get a job outside the home without him being here anyway. Since he does travel occasionally for business (day job) it makes it a bit difficult. We were very lucky that the the market was willing to work with him on the scheduling.

He is going to have his first conflict this week since his boss will be in town and wants to meet at 7. There is no way he can get there in time so we will see what happens. Technically he only has to be available for his first customer by 8am, which he is, so I'm hoping his boss will understand and not cause him any grief. We have learned the hard way that just because your contract says something doesn't mean your employer won't fire you for it anyway, they always have an out.