I have been getting the “why” question a lot lately. In fact, a mom responded thoughtfully to one of my blogs on Cafemom.com today and inquired about a seeming discrepancy in something I wrote. I mentioned that before our decision to home school, we were in a lovely Catholic school with great teachers. She wanted to know why we made the decision to home school if we were happy with our school. It wasn’t that anything was specifically wrong. It was that everything wasn’t right!
I felt we could do so much better! I knew in my heart that our family was being pulled in too many directions. We were starved for any kind of time, let alone quality family time. We were suffering, individually and as a family. There weren’t any alarming behavioral problems. The kids were getting great grades, developing friendships and they were generally in a good mood when I picked them up. But the little things were adding up. Bickering in the car on the way home, hardly being able to get out of bed in the morning, being unenthusiastic and resistant to the next organized activity or event posed constant parenting challenges. I was tired, impatient and crabby, and I am adult who can control my emotions. My children definitely weren’t getting the best of me. If I was tired and crabby, I knew they must be too, even more so.
My observation is that as a society, we are caught up in a predetermined and unquestioned system of operating. We are so “caught up in keeping up”, that we don’t have the time and energy to question why we are doing it until something dramatic happens. Every home school parent I have spoken too has had their “straw that broke the camel’s back” moment--that unforgettable moment of truth that caused them to take a second look at what they were doing, question everything, and acknowledge that things could be different.
I had that moment. Several of them, in fact, had stacked on top of each other until I had reached my personal breaking point. The system was holding my family hostage. I was like Mel Gibson in the movie Ransom—I wanted my family back, and I was willing to pay any price! Ironically, the price I am paying now is significantly less than that private school cost.
We are a pretty typical family, I think. My husband and I have been married for 14 years. We have two kids and a dog. My husband works, a lot. I had my own company for the last 20 years, and have decided now to stay at home to teach the kids. Our kids are involved in a number of activities and have active social lives. It wasn’t that we wanted to give things up as much as it was that we wanted to use our time more effectively so we could spend more time with each other. Serving as the family chauffeur, putting on 100 + miles per day so that other people could teach and influence my children didn’t seem to be the best use of time. It certainly wasn’t in the best interest of my family. It wasn’t working for us. With home school, we have cut most of the driving, increased our learning, eliminated homework (don’t get me started on homework as the world’s greatest time stealer), and taken back our family life.
I want to stress, that I am not here to criticize traditional school or those who choose that path. We, personally have been in schools we have loved and some that were not so great. I know many folks in great schools that are thrilled. They system works for them. I have also met some home school families who really aren’t doing their kids any favor. So there can be problems with any system as well as benefits.
What I AM advocating is that we all take a serious look at our lives to see what is working and what is not working. Life is short. If something isn’t working, change it. As a society, we need to question the distractions in our lives that keep us from remaining family focused. We live in a country that encourages creative solutions. Anything is possible with imagination, creativity, resourcefulness and flexibility.
If your life is holding you hostage, take it back! The power to choose the life we have dreamed of is entirely within our control.