June 12, 2018
You know those seasons where you feel like you're running a gauntlet? Or perhaps you're stuck in a fast moving river that's rushing through a canyon with high cliffs with no point of exit? You just have to get through. That's what spring feels like around here.
Just to re-cap, here's been the workload, the life-load, since the beginning of May:
Everything related to homeschool co-op, all the drama, parties, & prom involves commuting to the West Island. These are 30 minute - 1 hr commutes, one way, depending on traffic and time of day.
Like I said in last year's spring re-cap post I don't wear busy like a badge of honor. I don't value "busy". It just is what it is.
As I wrote in The warmth of May this time of year is often marked by transition, change, and the crunch of deadlines. All of which are emotionally difficult for me.
And since moving to Montreal and joining the co-op spring is now marked with an "end of school year" vibe, just like if our kids were in public school.
me and my dear friend Kim, part of my homeschool community
You'd think after three years of being intensely involved with a homeschool co-op I'd get with the program and maybe fully embrace this annual rite of passage, this yearly transition that most families have learned to endure year after year after year.
But I struggle with this end of school year vibe. It's so intense. How do school families do this? How do we?
I chose to homeschool, in part, because I resist the system. I resist being told what to do and I resist jumping through hoops just because that's what everyone does. I didn't want to jump through the hoops and have stressful year-ends, and stressful year-starts and just stress... I didn't want it. I still don't.
a special supper to celebrate Celine's birthday
So I worked to create a home culture and relationships with each other that didn't add unnecessary stress. The world "out there" is stressful, fast-paced, consumeristic, and competitive. It has a bunch of rules that don't make sense to me, they feel arbitrary and sometimes anachronistic.
I don't want to live to a standard set by someone else, following the ubiquitous and nameless "they" steering the ship.
So I haven't made the transition into a more structured school system, albiet homeschooling system, without a measure of angst and a feeling of loss. Especially this time of year.
I remember the days when spring meant dropping it all and being outdoors for hours and hours. That was how we did spring in childhood. For many years.
When I was living those years I wrote:
Your children will not always be children. They will be teens and then adults. And when they're ready for more, you won't be able to stop them. So there is no need to push the more before they are ready. Really.
I am now living the years in which they are ready for more. Need more. Ask for more. Find more. Seek more. Study more. All the more. I can't even believe how much more goes on in our house compared to the elementary years. And I'm still the person supporting them through this more, helping source the more, driving to the more, working to fund the more. All the more.
Loved having my dad visit and being able to talk with someone older, wiser (been there, done that) about raising and launching young adults - such a gift! Thanks Dad.
I'm giving of myself in ways I never had to during their relaxed and easy-going childhood. The years in which I said screw the system we're doing our own thing because I want to stay home with you. I want to garden and read stories, and go hiking and visit the farm. I want to be with you, at home, and enjoy my days.
The years I said, I don't know who "they" are but I'm not following them. I'm not living my life according to someone else's standard, someone else's system.
first year with the full garden space planted and producing
I have felt a resistance in myself to the pace of the teen years. It is one of my big struggles during this phase. The more I study Buddhism and just live life, I know that resistance is not only futile but it's a waste of energy. I get that, but I still do it. The same thing in me that resists the system, that resists "they" also resists this, the current busyness of raising teens.
(Plus, there are limits to resources, time, and energy. We can't do it all. Some of my resistance is simply holding the line at the natural boundaries. My kids will busy our lives with as much as I say "yes" to. It's my job to know my personal limits.)
The intensity of these years reminds me of the resistance I experienced as I learned to yield to my infants, to their needs, their schedules, their sleep. I was so tired those years. I learned how to manage then and I've learned how to manage now, but it's not easy.
I resist the expectations of this time of year, I resist the pace, I growl and bark a bit as I run the perimeter of my boundaries and find more encroachment. But I do the work regardless. What other choice do I have?
(If you tell me to not resist I'll scream. So save your breath, instead offer a cup of tea and a commiserating hug.)
Even when I was a teenager I thought my dad was cool
Just like when they were babies, I am committed to these children, to their needs, even when their desires are contrary to my own. Even when it feels like I'm losing bits of myself and my sanity in the process. Because what are the teen years if not a season in which the children's needs and desires are contrary to the parents?
We survived the spring, we ran the gauntlet of household deadlines and end-of-school-year activities. When we hosted the party for our friends' band, What If Elephants, on Sunday night I felt myself relaxing and delighting in the arrival of summer.
I am ready for a break. Desperate for a break. Like many other mothers this time of year.
Summer hints at a lighter schedule which is what I'll need to devote the time necessary to (finally) finishing Celine's high school portfolio (yes, she graduated last year), starting Laurent's transcripts (he graduates next year), and getting a better handle on Brienne's high school curriculum.
Brienne has a different learning style than her siblings, she is an achiever, she prefers a much more traditional, academic, and external-rewards approach to education, with a strong social element. (You know... school.) We have a lot to figure out this summer for her education. School-at-home or school-at-school, everything is on the table.
The ways in which we provide for our children change so much through the years. And my life as a homeschool mom of teens is radically different than our elementary experience. And I keep learning how to surrender and sacrifice my own comforts and preferences for the greater good of the family and to support my children's needs. And I struggle in that. Just like I struggled to surrender my sleep when they were babies.
But like sleep deprivation, this is a season, it will end in a few short years. A new one will begin. What mothering growth will I experience then? Oh my goodness, I don't want to think about it.
just wait till you see her dress! coming up soon
In this current parenting season the activity and intensity ebbs and flows. Spring is just very intense. Summer will be a little less so. And I'm ready for that change.
(I wrote most of this post during a break at the homeschool conference this past weekend where I delivered a workshop on Technology as a Tool in your Homeschool. When I went to edit, polish, and publish the text and scour my phone for photos I was reminded of the beauty of this last season. All the work is producing good fruit. Wonderful relationships with my beautiful children, an amazing theatre production, community, family, and so many parties with good friends. Oh, that we are so blessed. My mind and body are tired, my spirit needs some quiet, but my heart is full as I publish today.)
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