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Sunday, August 31, 2008

Finding What I Lost

I didn't know I lost it, it was gone and I didn't even miss because I wasn't focused on it. The 'it' is the joy of motherhood. I'm not saying that homeschooling is the complete and only cause of the lost joy but for my journey, it was a major part of it. Danny was 2 when I started homeschooling Camille and from the time he was 2 to now, he's 4...I've been missing the complete joy of being his mother.

I've spent hours researching, reading, worrying, contemplating, planning and various other focuses that I deemed important but I wasn't the mother I should have been to him. I wasn't the mother I initially wanted to be for him. Over a period of time, I went from a mother who played on the floor with her children to being preoccupied with busyness and still wanting/demanding first time obedience.

I look back at the last two years, at all the temper tantrums and acting out on Danny's part as a sign that I failed him. That sounds self-defeating but it's true. I failed him. I had other homeschooling parenting books and parents themselves presenting a much more rigid, strict way of discipling than I was doing and I felt I should do the same. It's wasn't my preference (but I didn't know that at the time) but I felt comfortable because it was how I was raised. Now after a bit of self-searching and being exposed to opposite ways by yet another group of homeschoolers, I feel like I've found what I had before homeschooling—the joy of being a Mom.

I'm reading The No-Cry Discipline Solution by Elizabeth Pantley and I'm rediscovering the Mom I used to be before homeschooling. I feel so blessed to not have strayed too long from the path that I originally felt called to although that path became very blurry by the information overload that I experienced in the first two years of homeschooling.

I think as a woman, it can be easy to lose sight of all the different goals we have for ourselves, marriage and children. Our lives started a new direction with homeschooling and it's taken me two years to find my bearings in many directions, now I can refocus on the most important part of the journey- being there for my children.

I have to end this here, Camille and I are going to have some mother & daughter time alone.



nancy said...

What a great post. Thank you for reminding all of us of this.

Jennifer said...

I can so relate to this. I feel that way, at times, with my youngest two kids. I find that when I need to work with (read discipline) my older two it is just easier to pop in a video or DVD for my three year old. My almost 10 month old gets lots of veggie puffs in her highchair or gets held and bounced a lot by me. I think it's a trap that all of us homeschooling Moms can fall into. I think we feel such a pressure for high achievement from the majority of society, who view homeschooling as something that cannot and should not be done, that we push our older kids to succeed to the detriment of our youngers. Eventually, we all realize our ways and things change for a little while. Then we add in the next student and the cycle plays itself out all over again. I think, or rather I hope, that at some point it gets easier and our older students begin to work much more independently. Once we reach the point that we aren't having to literally teach them but are merely giving them some direction, I hope it will get easier. Know that you are not alone in this plight. And you have not failed him. Don't ever think that. God gave him the Mother that he needs, which is not a perfect mother, rather the perfect mother for him. Blessings.

Vix said...

Hey Mama, dont be too hard on yourself. I love Maya Angelou for her quote "When you know better you do better." That really helps me when I come to a place (which all mothers will at some point) when I know Im doing something that is not the best for my child. (((hugs)))

And I chose your blog for my Blog Day post. Come and see.

School for Us said...

I just requested the book from the library. Thanks for telling us about it!

Hannah said...

I've been reading your blog for h'sing inspiration for a couple weeks, but I finally had to comment, because I so appreciated what you wrote. I totally understand where you're coming from, because it mirrors my own journey to a certain extent. It's so easy to be influenced by others around us, esp. other hs'ers or writers with strong views, and then to create distance between us and our kids. What a mercy from Him that you're figuring this out now rather than have many years of regret. Blessings to you.

Anonymous said...

This was an EXCELLENT post. How easy it is to be swayed by others' views of how we should discipline/homeschool our children. Been there ... done that ... regretted it, too! Aren't you so glad you've returned to "going with your heart" while Danny is still so young, rather than at the end of your parenting journey? I'm so glad you found Pantley's book. I have it and LOVE it. In fact, I was just reading it last night! A book that goes hand in hand with Pantley's is "The Discipline Book" by William Sears, in case you'd like another interesting and motivating read that is a breath of fresh air.

I just love your site and have learned so much from reading about your journey!


Anonymous said...

Good for you! It only took you two years to realize this, it took me four...

Somewhere I lost the "home"part of homeschool in search of the "school" part - this year though, we're doing much better, and I wish the same for you!

Anonymous said...

Well done! I too am often convicted that my children need a mommy who teaches them, not a teacher who mommies them.

I enjoy your blog and reading about your journey!

nestof3 said...

Good for you, Jessica. I'm glad you are remembering that you are Mom first, educator second. May you have a wonderful time enjoying your children.

christinemm said...

Jessica you are brave to acknowledge and to share publically what you said about the last two years.

I am glad you are finding a path that feels more right to you.

That book was highly recommended in La Leche League circles when it came out. I have not read it, it was beyond what I needed to hear as we never did the 'cry it out' thing.

Did you know that Dr. Ferber was quoted as saying he regrets the 'cry it out' thing as so many have taken it out of context or never read his book and were incorrectly applying the 'cry it out' approach?

We have to be careful about blindly following what others say to do. I don't care if some people say their methods are based on the Bible. That is not good enough for me because the way I interpret some things in the Bible is different. For one thing in Biblical times the families co-slept so how can people in America say that if you co-sleep it is against the Bible or that the Bible would support 'crying it out' when in fact that is not even in the Bible. In ancient times babies were carried in arms or in slings and received lots of touch and attention. Many American babies are not held often or enough even during the daytime and still crave closeness at night.

The first baby book recommended to me by a Christian family as being GREAT and necessary to follow made me sick to read. Yet that book has many followers. I then sought other ideas and found "The Baby Book" by William Sears MD. I was then on a path of attachment parenting. While some are quick to criticize attachment parenting as going against the Bible I will point out that Dr. Sears has a book out for Christians that speaks to that issue and about Christian parenting.

I stand out from some circles because of my stance on parenting including spanking.

Here is a post of mine on spanking and my opinion.

When I began parenting I wanted it to be very different than how I was parented so I sought a path that was different than my own (disconnected parental relationships, peer dependence, too much independence, not enough verbal expression of emotion or love, not enough hugs, not feeling I could talk to my parents about important things, not feeling safe to tell of things happening to me, yelling, talk to 'tear down' a person, being slapped in the face, and being spanked).

I will make a confession. In the last couple of years while living through some family crises I had gone sometimes to the 'just making it through the day' mentality some days. Just coping with certain things happening in my life was so hard that the joy of parenting disappeared too. In this last year the joy of homeschooling for the most part went away also. By the spring of 2008 I was acting more like filling the bucket than lighting a fire. While I don't want to lower standards for my kids I need to somehow find more joy yet get the lessons done and the material learned and mastered.

Sometimes I think homeschool moms only want to share the best parts of their lives. Homeschool bloggers are also at risk of sharing only the nearly perfect moments. That is not only dishonest but can hurt others who think they'd love to homeschool but are not perfect enough to pull it off. The reality is none of us are perfect.

Thanks for blogging your thoughts and for being honest.