We’re kicking off a new series here at Vintage Kids | Modern World for those of you just wondering about homeschooling! Maybe you’re wondering if it’s right for you? There are a lot of factors that go into the decision to homeschool, and we want to give you some information to make that decision a little easier! We have an amazing team of guest bloggers that will be popping in now and then to give you their unique perspectives and to answer some of your most curious and pressing questions about that weird sub-culture that homeschools their children…
And for today, I am so incredibly excited to introduce you to, and share our space with Katie Riddle, from Riddlelove. Katie blogs about her work-in-progress homestead, some incredibly yummy recipes (try the Honey Mustard Chicken! oh.my.word.), and her life raising her brood of 5 kids!
I am so honored and humbled that she shared this post with us…it touches a deep places in us Mamas and is a HARD reality to face. Katie has handled this topic so graciously and honestly and her words ask all of us to truly evaluate what is best for our family in each and every season.
I want to homeschool, but…I have the baby blues
Our children are second generation home schoolers. My husband Jeremy and I both grew up in homeschooling families. In fact, we met at a homeschool co-op! After both of our mothers broke extended families in to the concept of homeschooling and had to answer all of the usual questions (What about socialization? Are you qualified enough? How will you juggle it all?), it was expected that Jeremy and I would homeschool our kids. We didn’t have to deal with the raised eyebrows or concerned family members. In fact, it was quite the opposite. Of course we would homeschool. And we did. For seven years. With four children.
Then we had our fifth, and everything changed.
I struggled with prenatal blues for most of this last pregnancy. It was a first for me, after experiencing four pregnancies with nothing but the usual hormonal ups and downs. Some of it might have been from watching several friends miscarry while I carried my baby. I struggled with a sort of survivor’s guilt and had to constantly convince myself that it was okay, and even necessary, to enjoy this pregnancy and allow myself to be happy about our newest blessing growing inside me. It was a very tricky road to navigate through deep grief with friends who lost their unborn babies and the joy of carrying a very active baby in my womb, along with the curve ball of prenatal blues.
The time had come and our beautiful baby arrived at home and surprised us as our second son! Everything went smoothly, despite a knot that cinched tight as he was born from being so stinking active. His APGAR count was ten both times, and we were proud parents for the fifth time. Familiar euphoric, nurturing feelings flooded my heart as I watched each of his siblings hold and coddle him. He developed an immediate bond with Jeremy, much to my delight. Our littlest boy was Instagrammed probably more than my followers preferred to see, but I couldn’t help it.
Once Jeremy had to return to work and my parents traveled back to their home, normal life set in and it was time to experience what it was like to homeschool with five children on my own. It took a while to realize (and perhaps help from my husband gently pointing it out) that I wasn’t my usual postpartum self. It was hard to find joy. To be honest, I didn’t feel human. I felt as distant as the stars from every one of my relationships, including God. What was most concerning about it was the fact that I didn’t care. I knew this wasn’t really me. I knew deep inside I truly cared, but I felt nothing except… nothingness.
We had a few months left of the school year to finish up. I did my best, but we were barely surviving. Jeremy travels a lot, and the children and I found ourselves without the desperately needed support that only a dad and husband could bring during a season like this. Homeschooling was practically left by the wayside and I didn’t even feel at survival status by the end of his travels.
It was clear that something needed to change.
Homeschooling with five children in a 1,000 square-foot cabin with the constant ebbs and flows of the baby blues was overwhelming. Our homeschool was suffering, and I could feel the strain of trying to keep things together effecting my relationship with the children.
We happen to live fifteen minutes from the only Christian school I would consider putting our kids in. The pocketbook would take a hard hit, but in the name of preserving the children’s education and my relationship with them, we enrolled them into traditional school for the very first time. It was almost amusing to experience the unease that most parents get when they tell the grandparents that they have chosen to homeschool only we were announcing the opposite. Thankfully, both mine and Jeremy’s parents were very understanding and loving, which greatly eased any nerves. This one choice to utilize a Christian school revealed much about my heart.
I could see more clearly now than ever before that there really is a homeschool camp and a traditional school one.
Both have their guards up and feel they need to prove to one another that theirs is the best option. I saw pictures on Facebook that a homeschooling family posted of a child in prison and the caption read, “This is what happens to your child if you put them in school.” They snapped this photo at a homeschool convention.
Families who have always sent their children to school began to congratulate me as if I finally came to my senses and asked what I would do with all my extra time
(haha, that’s funny. And nonexistent).
I even had a mother say to her husband (in front of me, mind you) that I “gave in and sent my kids to school.” The most painful part was that I could hear my old self saying that very thing about someone like me. Admittedly, and very embarrassingly, I realized that I believed homeschooling was superior and anyone who didn’t choose to make whatever sacrifice necessary to do it was really missing out.
I have, and always will adore homeschooling. We plan to bring our children back home. This year however, I have learned so incredibly much about perspective, understanding, and compassion.
Deep down inside, we all want the very best for our children. “The very best” looks as different as each individual family. I truly understand that now. My dream is that each homeschool and traditional schooled family would be able to drop their preconceived notions of one another and realize that we all just love our children so dearly and are doing our very best, and to honor one another for that.
Two of our children are still with me at home and my almost-five-year-old homeschool together as the baby toddles around and gets into whatever big sister is learning. When the other three come home, I am not at my wit’s end. I help them with homework and afterwards, we venture outside to the garden and we talk about all the different seedlings and what they’ll become. We visit our little flock of sheep and they help me bottle-feed the week-old lamb who has been rejected by his mother (that has been a learning experience). We head to the chicken coop and they learn that hens don’t lay as much in the winter when there’s not much daylight. They help me in the kitchen to prepare dinner and learn to double recipes.
I realize that homeschooling continues to be a part of our lives. I feel our connections growing and it’s been fun to listen to them tell me about their day for the first time because they aren’t with me from dawn till dusk. I am thankful for the opportunity to send them to this school for a season. I am so thankful for the perspective it has brought all of us and the opportunity it gave me to let the baby blues fade away with time.