Hi, I’m Laura.
I have 4 kids in two sets. In August, they all went through big transitions.
I have to admit, I’m feeling pretty mixed up about that.
The oldest, my only son, turned 21. I don’t have words to express the jumble of emotions that stir inside me.
Yes. All of those.
Plus, secretly, I think I’d rather have another birthday that ends in zero than an honest-to-goodness adult son. But, this is his milestone, not mine. So, I’ll just breathe and carry on.
My oldest daughter, who is 17, moved into the college dorms a few weeks ago! She’s been accepted to to attend her senior year of high school in a prestigious bridging year program.
Again, I’m filled pride, relief, joy and anxiety. At the same time.
Ah, keep’em coming. I can take it.
My second set of kiddos are twin girls. They’re 4 years old, and August marked the beginning of our first “official” year of home education.
Yep. You guessed it. Pride, relief, joy & anxiety.
First, I’m proud that my husband and I are so lock-step committed to home education. I wasn’t as stubborn when my older kids were little. Then again, I didn’t have the support I have now. Their dad, my ex, wasn’t “into” the whole idea of homeschooling. So, as much as I could, I went along to get along. They had a combination of school-at-home, public school and a couple of awesome alternative schools.
That and the added benefit of hearing me ramble on for the last 15 years about the importance of self-directedness, lifelong learning & following your wander. I’m pretty sure some of that sunk in. I get all teary watching them slowly emerge into amazing, creative and stubbornly independent adults.
But now, with the twins “coming of age,” I honestly don’t expect much to change about our daily routine. We’re life schoolers. (I use that term because I’ve heard the word “unschooler” implies a whole heap of assumptions that don’t describe us or our style of home education. But I’ll save that for a future post.)
As life schoolers, the girls have been learning and exploring and experimenting every day for a least a couple years. Our role has always been to notice & encourage their interests, i.e., see what they’re hungry for and feed that, however we can.
We now have four year olds who are beginning to read, do simple math and converse with adults as easily as other kids. One loves biology, and she will happily tell you all about her “any buddies” (antibodies) while she purposely colors out of the lines. The other loves mechanics and robots and puzzles, and she can solve the advanced tanagram puzzles on my phone with one hand tied behind her back.
Oops, there’s that pride showing again.
I’m relieved to know that our chosen flavor of home education is already proving to be effective for us. Unschoolers/life schoolers talk a great deal about trust. But, personally, I’m much better suited to evidence than trust, so seeing them ask about and understand such complex concepts is a huge relief.
Which leads me to joy.
Both my husband and I work from home. We all live, work, play & learn under the same roof every day. We didn’t just choose this life. We intently, passionately created it. That didn’t happen over night, and it’s not always easy. But the life we’ve always wanted is finally ours. And that makes the joy overflow.
The anxiety comes from somewhere else.
There are all sorts of legitimate reasons for it. We’re moving 6500 miles away in, holy cow, about six weeks! Not just away from Alaska, but also away from my big kids. That’s probably explanation enough for the perpetual knot in my stomach.
But there’s something else.
For the first time since the twins were born, I feel anxious about their home education, even though I know we’re on the right path. I can envision a cool, crisp September day running errands with the girls when most kids their age are sitting in school. I’m feeling a little paranoid about being watched and judged by people who are walking on very different paths.
Don’t get me wrong.
Their prying eyes won’t change my opinion about compulsory education. I will never make parenting decisions based on some instinctual need for acceptance. But, I do feel an overwhelming urge to dig in my heels and square my shoulders. A knot in my stomach telling me to prepare for opposition.
Because, you see, it seems that I’m going through a period of transition too. I’ve shed the skin of that young, passive, don’t-rock-the-boat mom and have emerged, fully dressed and ready for anything as the experienced, i-know-my-kids-better-than-anyone-so-back-off mom.
Which, oddly enough, fills me with pride, relief, joy and anxiety.
Laura is a micro-business adviser at BrainyFeet and an advocate for families who want to live a self-made, well-blended life. She and her husband tag-team the twins’ unschooling in Wasilla, Alaska (for the time being). This is their first official year of home education.