|Summer with my wild things|
At different times throughout last year—certainly in the many months leading up to September after we made our decision to homeschool, and then periodically throughout the Fall—I could feel myself leaning in to a lingering whisper that demanded to know where all these days of play and work were taking us. Was it really true that I could only take this one day at a time?
How would my personality and his personality, our strengths and weaknesses and interests co-exist, and grow, and where would we be at the end of the year? Would Roscoe learn to read? Would he learn to write his name? Could our homeschool really be everything he needed and could I be satisfied in my singular role having set aside most everything else at that point to pursue this path of motherhood and homeschool?
Learning to live with uncertainty this year—all the practice I've had just sitting with my uncomfortable feelings of NOT knowing, and without guarantee of anything be it homeschool or mothering, for that matter—has helped me to find peace in the process of work unfolding without the burden or pressure of expectation. I make no assumption about where Roscoe's work will take him, or the pace at which it will develop, or the form it will take on. I may have said that before, but I really mean it now.
I've expanded this mindset to also release myself from pursuing a burning need I often feel to analyze the details of how my own professional work will develop, as I am only one person, and my career ideas and dreams are bigger than our life can hold at the moment. I'm not worried though, because there will be time for it all. Just not right now.
I'm beginning to embrace the idea that life is simply a series of projects amassed over time. Relief seeps into my core at this notion of a life's work because it grants me permission to indulge my whims and curiosities, and to be moved by my energy when it flows, gathering new ideas and inspiration along the way to pursue what is meaningful when it is meaningful and letting go of expectations for myself when it no longer feels so.
Another theme to emerge from this year is a renewed trust in my mothering. When the boys were young I was naively and rightfully certain that my instincts were true. I believed wholeheartedly in my mothering self from the moment I became a mother, maybe even before that. Of course no one can know everything, but I was certain that I could see my babies for the little beings that they were, and I could listen to them and know them and meet their needs without fail when I honored my own instinctive desire to act on their behalf—in giving birth to them, in feeding them and sleeping with them, in setting boundaries and giving them freedom to explore their independence.
When the boys were young my early parenting decisions were sheltered in the safety and privacy of our home, and I readily dismissed the high stakes and demands of modern motherhood as our culture markets it to us. It was easier then though. This past year as we moved beyond and into the elementary years, I felt a shift, our parenting choices less private and on greater display than ever before. We are out in the community at times when other kids are typically in a classroom. Family and friends can't help but weigh in on our homeschool, a difficult conversation to entirely avoid—I'll admit—when they meet Roscoe's cool enthusiasm for kindergarten-at-home in response to standard pleasantries like, "How old are you?" and "What grade are you in?"
With Roscoe moving one day at a time further from the standards of the Common Core as we peel away to pursue something of our own making—and with growing awareness for what his public and private school counterparts are doing—I've entertained my own thoughts of time lost if our homeschool doesn't pan out, and just what would happen then?
The last year and a half I've been challenged to be unaffected "by what everyone else is doing." Always a devil's advocate and unafraid to unearth every stone big or small until I am satisfied, in temporary moments of weakness I've sat with the possibility that there could exist some thing that he needs that I don't have to give, or that I can't harness for him, or that I can't help him to harness for himself. In my heart of hearts though, I don't believe these sentiments apply to our homeschool any more than they do to mothering in general. Haven't we all wondered this at one time or another, homeschooling or not?
Sure, it can feel vulnerable to do what everyone else is not doing, but with some perspective on this first year I've found courage and new confidence in how all these pieces relate to each other in the bigger scheme of our life. I may have felt unsure for a while there, talking myself through and putting on a brave face, wondering what's the worst that could happen? But after this year, intimately involved and actively practicing our intentions, I truly feel a new level of trust in my boys' learning process, and in myself as their mother and mentor.
PBH kindergarten was everything I hoped it would be. Constrained by very little and free to do as we pleased, our time was ours, our schedule was ours, and every day was a new adventure no matter where we landed.
A whole school year has passed, our first together, and we're grounded now on the other side having better learned how to pursue our interests in the context of our relationships and family life.
We are so free. Free to be our true selves, undefined by the expectations of a parenting culture to which we don't particularly identify. The happy realization through this last year has been to find out that living up to our own expectations is more than enough.