As my writing all of last year has proven, it has been extremely hectic. We were dealing with legal things, or moving, or appointments ... I didn't feel like I even had time to breathe. The entire year was just a series of stressful nonsense, and the ones paying the price were the Littles. Homeschooling started taking more and more of a backseat. We were missing more days than we were schooling, or we'd wake up on Monday morning and start really strong, but by Wednesday, we'd be so burnt out, we'd quit. Or, we'd have to stop for an appointment, or we'd get sick, or ... or ... or ... or ...
Well, you get the idea.
I've blogged so infrequently that I can't even remember if I wrote about us moving in with Hubby's father and grandfather, but we did that last April to help take care of them. We were very blessed in that the school district that we moved into has some of the highest rated schools in the county. Hubby had commented several times over the months that maybe we should consider taking a deep breath and putting the kids in public school. I kept fighting it. I was just so determined that we should be homeschooling, yet we were all stressed. In the meantime, Princess - who had been living with her dad for a few years and had been in public school - had moved in with us.
School started on a Monday ... the Friday before, we were sitting around the breakfast table, trying to figure out how our schedule was going to work the following week. I was burnt out. That week had been a nightmare. I had so much emotional baggage, and so much frustration, that nothing had gotten done. It was so bad, that I started crying because I was so worried about how I was going to handle Red living with my dad and starting his Freshman year of high school (ACK!!! lol), and Princess living with us and how I was going to keep ahead of her schedule on a daily basis, school the Littles, and still get housework done, all while continuing to attempt to build our photo business. I broke down. I couldn't breathe. Hubby gave me "the look" - the one where I know he means business. He suggested that now would be the perfect time to enroll the kids into public school. Fluffy would be going into 2nd grade (technically third, but due to how our school year calendar is scheduled, she hadn't finished 2nd grade yet, and with the change that she would undergo changing into public school, we figured her staying in 2nd wouldn't be too bad) ... and Sir Smiley would be starting Kindergarten. Really, the timing couldn't be better.
I looked at him, and all I could feel was dejection, and that I couldn't go another step. I couldn't go another day fighting all the battles - most of them within my own heart. I looked Hubby in the eyes and said, "We've got one day to get their paperwork together, better get dressed and get a move on." He was shocked. He thought I was kidding at first. I assured him that I was going to cry and be emotional, and probably go through some major feelings of failure, but I was, indeed, serious.
So far, this school year has been pretty crazy. The first assumption was that I'll have all the extra time on my hands, and my level of stress will decrease substantially, and think about how much I'll be able to get done now!!
Just ... no.
I'll be honest ... the first couple of months I battled severe depression over schooling. I couldn't fight the feelings of failure. I screwed up. I let them down. It took quite some time to break through the wall that I built around myself. What finally did it? The Littles have an incredible art teacher, and we'd been studying an eclectic assortment of art the last few months. Mr. Art Teacher sent a note home: "I just wanted to say how impressed I am with the work you've done with Fluffy and Smiley! Today we were talking about Picasso and Van Gough, and Fluffy knew every single piece of art!" My heart exploded with pride! He went on to say that he's never had a student so young be so knowledgable, and I must have been doing something right when we were at home. The very next week was open house, when the teachers meet with parents on a one-on-one basis, and Fluffy's teacher said she had the highest reading level in the class, and she had an insatiable thirst for learning *everything* and she was so exciting to teach. I had been working with Sir Smiley's teacher, had gone on a few field trips with them, and she loves my little monkey, and is always talking about what a joy he is to have in class. It took quite a while, but my heart finally felt at ease.
My days now are still very busy. I always have photo editing to do, or projects to work on ... or laundry to fold!!! ACK!! The laundry!!!! I work in the elementary library once a week for a couple of hours - mostly to just get out of the house and stretch my legs a bit - and the littles ones are so cute! Every once in awhile, I go up to Princess' middle school or Red's high school for a couple of hours to help with a project, but I've been careful to not get too weighed down with anything so far.
For now, I'm very satisfied with keeping the kids in public school. I don't know if it will be forever, and I have the assurance that should we decide to homeschool again, I won't be starting from scratch, and I'll know what I'm facing.
I'm mostly relieved that my friends have been so supportive. While I did receive a bit of negativity, everyone understands the walls I've been up against and have been encouraging. If I were to advise any other family on the precipice of having to make this decision, to just be mindful more of what is best for them and for their children. This goes back to the oxygen mask on the plane - if you aren't strong, you can't be strong for your children.
Keep strong, fellow parents ... the education of your children doesn't have to break you down. It will be most successful when you're all on the same page, and you're all feeling uplifted!