LAST BABY BLUES - HE'S TURNING TWO
Okay, so he's not turning two for another 6 months but trust me when I say it will come too soon. I. Am. A. Mess.
"When are we going to have another baby?"
My kids often ask me when we're going to have another baby and the younger ones have already placed their orders for another baby brother or a baby sister. Honestly, in our family of eight, we don't know what life is like without a baby around to keep us all on our toes.
It is going to be weird not having a baby around and we will all miss it immensely. Especially, me.
Where did the first year go?! It seems like just yesterday that I was waddling around in my favorite Target maxi dresses (they're sooooo stretchy!), talking to Little Bean in my belly. We'd take long, slow waddles down the baby aisles together, laughing at every graphic onesie, petting every stuffy, and stocking up on diapers, and binkies (you know, the ones with adorable stuffies attached to them. I love those!). Then plopping the fun purchases into the shiny new plastic baby tub I bought for his first year of bath time pics.
I groaned at all the bundles of tiny baby socks displayed, knowing that one of each pair will instantly disappear, forever, within minutes of leaving the store in my sealed shopping bag. Can I get a witness?! Why can't they sell a bundle of 6 pairs of the SAME SOCK... - it would save the sanity of exhausted new mothers everywhere. There is a special place in hades for the designers of baby socks who greenlight sock sets in multiple colors and patterns. Sorry, off topic...
So, back to my severe case of #lastbabyblues.
I am fast approaching my 46th birthday - I think it’s safe to say that Baby#6 is our last baby chick. Now, I know that most people would say that my scotsman and I have had a good run, baby-makin', and it's time to retire the ol' uterus. Confession Time: I thought my baby making days had ended after Baby #5 so when that pregnancy test confirmed Baby #6's imminent arrival, I was stunned beyond words.
Honestly, it's going to be rough for me when J-Dragon says bye-bye to diapers and binkies and takes off running, full-steam ahead, into life as a big-kid preschooler. Slapping on that final diaper on his sweet little bottom, retiring my diaper bag(s), donating his crib, and packing up his baby clothes will be extra hard because I have been mothering babies for the past 16 years and to say that I will miss it is a gross understatement.
Don't get me wrong, I joyfully celebrate milestones as they come. I don't want to hold him back (maybe a little bit...), but I guess what I'm trying to say is that the sixth time around, I have finally learned to enjoy the everyday journey, instead of just checking off the milestones and looking to what's next on the list.
What can I say, I'm a slow learner...
When he was just months old, his siblings and I would prop him up on the couch and try to guess which way he'd topple (left or right) - best out of three would be the winner. I fully enjoyed his adorable crawling phase instead of wondering why he wasn't walking yet. And I am enjoying his baby-speak, immensely, instead of keeping track of how many words he's mastered. I am singing through his diaper changings instead of brushing up on potty training protocols. And I'll often drop whatever I'm doing and laze unhurriedly on my well-worn couch with my sweet baby cuddled on my lap, finally understanding that the laundry and dishes really can wait.
I get it. I finally get it, but what took me so long?! I am the first to admit that I have had a respectable number of babies (never too many, though) and yet here I am, sitting at my kitchen table, writing this post, while my still-a-baby, baby, naps upstairs, and I'm wishing I had more time with all of my kids to relish their baby years one more time and to hold them in my memory just as clear as today.
My oldest baby chick is now taller than me and she'll be taking driver's ed this summer. Next in line is getting braces and possibly an iPhone (his fingers crossed...). The years are indeed flying by at light speed and I am trying my best to keep up and enjoy the ride, grateful to still be a part of my children's daily lives.
My last baby's arrival was an unexpected gift and not a single day goes by that I take his whimsical presence for granted. When his second birthday rolls around, I will be the first to cheerily sing him his birthday song, both in English and Korean, as per our family tradition. And after I have a good cry off in a corner of my house somewhere, suffering from a case of last baby blues, I will hug my baby boy and congratulate him on being "two cakes old".
PLEASE STOP TELLING ME TO ENJOY MY KIDS
On the days when I am a walking zombie, operating on countless cups of coffee and running on fumes, trying to make it to wherever (everywhere) and whenever (bedtimes, always), I daydream about the future. I dream about a day when all the kids are older - where no one needs help wiping their bottom, finding a shoe, sock, clean pants, permission slip, hairbrush, favorite stuffy, money, their lucky rock, homework, folder or anything else, as we're running late; where I'm not on my hands and knees, bone-tired, scrubbing vomit out of the carpet, for a second time, at 3:00 am and then comforting a little sick one until 4:00 am or where I'm not facing down 60 extra pounds, postpartum.
I think to myself, while driving (because as homeschoolers, we're not home a whole lot), "won't it be nice to have pretty things around the house that won't get broken, freshly painted walls that stay clean, and fancy furniture free of stains, chips and dents? Won't it be nice to go on a leisurely romantic date or wear dry clean only dresses again? And how about some peace and quiet to form engaging thoughts beyond mac & cheese, homemade playdoh, and laundry?" I've forgotten what it's like to spend unhurried time alone, free of mom guilt.
And then I cry (like I am right now), because the immaculate house that I sometimes long for and the peace and quiet that I never get to enjoy and the non-existent unhurried time for personal pursuits are all coming and when that day comes, I will wish for all the glorious chaos and little people madness to return back into to my life so that I may get a second chance to do it right - yell a little less, hug a little more, and play often with my kids, instead of folding more dang laundry or whatever else I foolishly thought took priority over playing dress-up with my children.
I realize that this beautiful life is God-ordained and that what I have with my big young family is unabashedly wonderful, blessed, magical, joyful, amazing, hilarious, and hands down the best part of living.
But you know what?
It is insanely loud at my house most of the time, and sometimes chaotic, physically exhausting, mentally draining, unspeakably messy, shatteringly hard, and at times, daunting and discouraging as I wonder if I'm messing them all up or doing a good job. Honestly, sometimes it's hard to tell.
The pressures to meet the impossible perfectionstic standards of motherhood are so high in 2018 that it is hard to be a mother and wife without having deep regrets no matter which way you go and no matter how fantastic a job you are doing.
So, yes - although I love my family and appreciate my husband and adore my 6 kids, somedays I do not enjoy motherhood. There, I said it. That isn't to say that I don't enjoy being a mother or that I regret having kids. Of course not.
It's just that motherhood isn't all unicorns and rainbows, homebaked cupcakes, pretty bedtime lullabies, and Ikea-organized kids' rooms with wall-to-wall Pottery Barn decor. That, my friends, is social-media motherhood, not real motherhood.
There are many things that I enjoy about motherhood that are actually enjoyable, like: a day at the park with my kids and our friends; baking a simple recipe with my little ones who always love to put food coloring in absolutely everything; reading a favorite bedtime story for the 100th time and making it sound just as fun as the very first time; throwing a birthday party for one of my six(!) amazing children who are indeed growing up too fast; watching the Super Bowl Halftime show together over bad food and loud jokes; slipping in quietly to watch my kids sleep and tuck them in gently while they sleep; watching their viral Fortnite dance that they’ve mastered, and watching them walk down an aisle to proudly accept a certificate or give a performance. These are just a few of the countless things that I enjoy with my kids and about my kids. With six unique, smart, talented, funny and wildly spontaneous kids, the list of things to enjoy about them is endless.
However, more often than not, motherhood also includes a mountain of dirty laundry, scratches on the expensive new furniture and stains on the curtains. Motherhood on any given day, can mean managing the blood curdling scream of your child's tantrum (in public) or, my favorite - incessant whining, sibling fighting and a messy house full of broken things. I don't enjoy this side of motherhood. I'll say it again, I don't enjoy some parts of motherhood and I don't think I ever will. Honestly, who 'enjoys' a child's tantrum or the smell of vomit or a sink full of dirty dishes or sitting in a doctor's waiting room for hours with a sick infant, toddler, or preK child who is ready to climb the walls?
By day's end, sometimes I am the one ready to climb the walls. I don't enjoy that. And that's ok.
So when a sweet older woman or grandfatherly gentleman looks fondly at my family and smiles at me and says, "Enjoy your family. They grow up so fast..." I feel thankful for their collective wisdom but I also feel a little angry and a whole lot guilty. Why? Because the moment they tell me to enjoy my family, my mind goes to all those moments that I don't enjoy and I feel 100 times guiltier. Guilty for not seeing the joy and blessing in middle-of-the-night vomit fests and guilty for missing the"enjoyment" of doing 16 loads of laundry at the laundromat (every Saturday while I save up for a new washer) and guilty for badly wishing my crying sick baby would sleep in his crib, like right now(!) because I am dead on my feet from rocking him and my alarm is about to go off in 45 minutes. Some things are not "fun", "enjoyable", or "happiness"-invoking. Some things in motherhood are just "hard" and "unenjoyable".
So, here is my homeschooling mom's confession of the day: I don't enjoy every aspect of motherhood.
But please, don't tell me to enjoy my kids, because I already do.
10 PARENTING FACTS THAT MAKE YOU GO, HMMM...
1. I crave time for myself but feel guilty when I get it.
2. If newborns sleep up to 16 hours a day, why am I so tired?
3. I am home all day and don't have a job but somedays I can't negotiate a five minute shower.
4. I clean and tidy constantly but my house still looks like main street after the Super Bowl parade.
5. I am bigger, better educated, and make more money. Baby can't feed or change himself, let alone hold down a job, but he is clearly The Boss.
6. Baby barely weighed 8 pounds at birth so how did I gain 60?...
7. My mom as a parent: stern, cheap, and all about consequences. This same woman as a grandma: a big wet noodle with infinite cash to burn on her grandkids.
8. When vacationing, all of my belongings fit in a backpack. Baby's? I have to hitch a trailer to drag B's everything anywhere (car seat, stroller, playpen, diapers, breastpump, accessories, toys, books, stuffy, blanket, ointments, wipes, snacks, sunglasses, his beloved oversized plastic Sesame Street car keys, and an extra everything...)
9. Why do my toddler's tiny shoes cost as much as much as my much bigger shoes?
10. Babies are simple. Parenthood is not.
*I think I'll take that shower now...
MOM GUILT MONDAY #3
"DON'T WORRY. HE'LL BE FINE."
J-Dragon was perched comfortably in the crook of my arm as I handed his diaper bag to the nursery caregiver. On this particular Sunday morning, it was a husband and wife team tasked with happily snuggling and playing with the toddlers. It was the husband who greeted my son, enthusiastically, with a big smile... J-Dragon was not impressed. I felt his chubby little fist tighten on the sleeve of my dress. He made no move to budge from his safe perch. He started patting me gently with his other hand, a clear sign that he is mildly distressed and in need of comforting. I pat him gently on his back and sway slightly, side to side, as I speak with the nursery worker.
I hand over the diaper bag to the caregiver and sign in my little son. Knowing full well that my boy would soon start crying, I mention that there are snacks in his bag, along with his pacifier. And then I reach down into his stroller for his security blanket and hand it to the nursery worker. He seemed to balk at this and just stared at it for a beat, making no effort to reach for it. Instead, he said, "Oh no, don't worry. He'll be fine." and proceeded to reach for J-Dragon. He left me feeling uncertain as I stood there in the doorway, me holding the blanket and him, holding my son. J-Drgaon was not crying (yet) - he was intently assessing this new situation, trying to make sense of it and wondering what it meant for him.
I stood there for a moment, with J-Dragon's blanket in hand, and hesitated on what to do next. This was my second attempt at leaving him at the nursery - the first attempt was a few months earlier and he wasn't quite ready. On this day, I knew the blanket would be a comfort to him and I knew the pacifier would be, too. I had failed to bring both the first time - it had been a spur of the moment decision to try the nursery for the first time so I hadn't brought along his favorite things. This time, I came prepared to make his transition smoother and hopefully, successful - his blankie and binky were at the ready. I knew, without a doubt, that his blanket and pacifier would soothe and comfort him when I left. I also knew that he would only need them for a few minutes while he sat on a warm, soft lap, and got used to his surroundings. I also knew that once he set eyes on the countless colorful balls and mini basketball hoop in the corner of the nursery, he would forget all about his blanket and do away with his binky. I know my little son - I am his mommy and it's my very cool job to know these kinds of things about him and to 'mother' accordingly.
"And then I did something shocking and disappointing..."
It was clear to me that the man thought I was a nervous mom, over-babying my son and decided on the spot to over-ride my parenting decision. He seemed to conclude that my son wouldn't be needing the baby blanket or his binky. Inwardly, I bristled (translation: I was majorly ticked off). Then I did something that both shocked and disappointed me... rather than simply insisting that he take the blanket, "just in case", I turned to put the blanket away, back into the empty stroller, even though I knew full well that my son would desperately want it the moment that I left. I knew that he liked to soothe and comfort himself by touching the smooth blue satin piping, along the edge of the blanket, with the tips of his tiny fingers like a buddhist and his beads. I also knew that being able to comfort, soothe, and identify one's emotions and feel safe were all important for healthy emotional development. And I knew that some parents consider security blankets and binkies harmful 'crutches' that hinder a baby's independence and development. I am NOT that parent or in that camp.
Let's be clear as to which parent camp I plant my flag - pacifiers, security blankets, and stuffed animals do not handicap a baby from learning to be independent or point them towards a future of constant neediness and inability to function independently. They don't fill our society with wimpy adults, sucking on their thumbs. They actually aid in doing the opposite. Having the ability to soothe and calm oneself in a healthy manner creates strong, confident, independent, and secure-minded individuals. We all could use something or someone to support or comfort us in distressing times. For a little one, using soothers acknowledge that very strong, and overwhelming feelings are valid and should be addressed, whether with a hug, or a security blanket, or in some other healthy and comforting way.
"You'll be fine. You don't need that." But you see, he does. Not forever, but for a time, he really, really does need it and that's okay. My baby boy, with each passing day and month, will learn new skills, discover new things, and celebrate victories, both big and small. And with each new discovery and skill learned, he will need his blanket and binky (and mommy) less and less and that is a beautiful thing. Until then, he can have his binky, his blankie, and all the hugs and reassurance that he wants. He doesn't have to be a brave little man at 18 months(!) and prove to anyone that he doesn't need anything or anyone when times are tough. And if he's scared when dropped off in a new place, it's okay to seek out something familiar for reassurance and comfort. Today, he can practice taking care of himself with the help of his trusty blanket and pacifier. I'm proud of him that he can do that for himself.
So why was I about to disregard all of that and leave him unmoored on a stranger's lap, soon to be crying and distressed? This is where mom guilt stepped in - It was because I didn't want the caregiver to think that I was a nervous mother hen, over-babying and smothering my child. Is that what I am? Maybe that's who I am... For a moment, it was more important to me that he thought well of my mothering skills and I was willing to sacrifice meeting my son's needs for that bit of positive acknowledgement. I am not proud of this. The caregiver had already walked away with my J-Dragon and he was carrying him around confidently, like his little buddy. No tears yet but he definitely wasn't warming up to the new arrangement.
I stood there at the doorway until the caregiver saw that I was still there. I gave him the blanket and said again, gently, "Here's his blanket. It'll come in handy when I leave." He took it (begrudgingly) and rather than handing it to my son, he placed it with the diaper bag without saying a word. I then walked around to the one-way-see window and watched my baby boy start to cry and howl as he saw me walk away. The worker immediately handed him over to his very capable and kind looking wife. She sat with my son in her lap and lovingly rubbed his back and mouthed soothing things to him. 'She's a pro,' I thought. She said something to her husband, which I couldn't hear. He turned from her and headed straight for my diaper bag, grabbed the blanket and gave it to my son and went back to the bag to look for his binky. My son clamped onto the blanket immediately and balled it up in his very special way that he always did when he was tired or distressed. I stayed at the window until he stopped crying and it was all of four minutes ( and yes, they were a very loooong 4 minutes for this mama). He sat on her lap for a little while longer, his breath hitching.
I feel guilty that I almost allowed another parent's judgment hinder me from allowing him the opportunity to take care of himself while I was away. The husband playfully ran little toy cars on the ground in front of them and my little guy calmed down. And yes, once he felt safe and a little brave, he slid off her lap, shed his blanket and binky, and headed off to explore, all on his own. He went straight for the balls...
MOM GUILT MONDAY #2
MOM GUILT, MY FRENEMY
MOM GUILT MONDAY #2
Soooo.... out of all the unfinished blog drafts sitting in my bin covering various topics, half of them fit under the category "Mom Guilt". Yeah.
My relationship with Mom Guilt is prickly and complicated. Some days, it is a dear friend dishing out some tough love and on other days it is an enemy ready to pounce. If I allow it to, Mom Guilt will set up camp in my thoughts and defeat me daily, sabotaging the good work I am trying to do. On the other hand, it can also convict me and spur me to make real changes for the better. I experience both types of guilt quite regularly. I welcome it because the flip side of the guilt coin is shiny with resolve and hope, and 'hope' leads to positivity, growth, greater focus, and action in the right direction. The tricky part is knowing when and how to swing that mighty mom guilt hammer to help build up a better MomMe, instead of to tear myself down.
For better or for worse, in my tired mommy brain, all of my mommy transgressions (of which there are m-a-n-y) are tabbed under each child's name, catalogued by subject, archived by year, and notarized by a Certified Mom Guilt Notary Public (aka my mother). My Mom Guilt is vast, expansive and comprehensive in scope. And much like a persistent tic, any number of my past Mom Guilt infractions will creep up on me when I am otherwise having a winning day, to ruinous consequences.
Mom Guilt has a way of distorting my good judgment and turning a perfectly reasonable and harmless activity such as making a solo run to Starbucks into an exercise in mom anxiety as I try to tear myself away from my crying baby and kids who beg to go with me or ask me to stay home. Sometimes I ease my guilt by bringing home treats or skip the Starbucks run altogether.
You may be nodding your head, knowingly, as you read this post. I have read articles written by moms who declare freedom from mom guilt and wonder how they do it. I think it helps to have a good friend, therapist, or parenting blog who can put a fresh and healthy perspective on things. We all need to get out of our own heads sometimes, especially if we're harboring negative thoughts. Mom Guilt Monday posts are my way of working through some of the guilt and to reflect on the significance or silliness of some of the stuff I feel guilty about as a mom.
How are you, today? Is your Mom Guilt being a friend nudging you in the right direction or is Mom Guilt being a mean girl getting all up in your grill, trying to tear you down? A good way to tell the difference: If the guilt makes you hang your head, crank at your family, and drive you to throw your hands up in defeat, it's not your friend. If the guilt drives you to think up a solution or action plan to solve or erase whatever's troubling you, then that's the good kind. Use that one to better yourself and share some tips with this mama through the comments below! Have an awesome guilt-free day, mama!
The first time I heard about homeschooling, I was spouseless, childless, and clueless about everything that I am now presumed to be an expert on. Fast forward the entire Matrix trilogy, 2 installments of Guardians of the Galaxy, all of the Harry Potter films, and this is where I now find myself - “A family of 8 and homeschooling?! You are amazing and your kids are great.” Other moms often confide in me that they don't think they could do it. The brave ones ask for advice on how to get started and the curious ones ask what my typical day looks like. The one thing they all have in common is the false idea that I am a perfect wife, mother, and teacher and that my children are excellent in just about every way (grades, talents, behavior, manners, etc.) The truth is, I am an excellent wife, teacher, and mother SOMETIMES. We all have our great days. Other times, my epic parenting fails, wifely misses, and teaching stumbles are embarrassing and I chalk them up as growth and learning opportunities (I’ll share them with you at a later date).
My kids are not perfect. Their mom is not perfect. My schedule is not even close to being perfect. And yet, as a homeschooling mom, I feel that if I open my mouth and confess that it’s crazy hard sometimes and I don’t know if I’m doing it right, I will let people down. Did I just let you down by saying that?
So here I am, dropping the veil on myself and my fellow homeschool hotties, on the quiet realities we homeschool moms often suffer alone. The list was supposed to be longer but my schedule’s kinda wonky as my kids recover from the flu so here goes...
7 UGLY TRUTHS ABOUT HOMESCHOOLING THAT HOMESCHOOLING MOMS NEVER TALK ABOUT
1. You secretly regret your decision to homeschool. Year one of homeschooling is the honeymoon phase and you feel like you’re changing the world, one precious heart at a time. You are totally in love with spending time with your child/children and enjoying the freedoms and independence of being your own ‘school’, choosing curriculum, projects, co-ops, activities, etc. - the world is your oyster. Everything is new, beautiful and exciting and the sky is the limit! Then year 3 hits and you have to make greater efforts to stave off stale routines and repeat visits to local spots lose their appeal. Maybe you have a new little one or two and they haven’t gotten the memo to respect the delicate science experiments and to not pull all the alphabetized books off the shelves during power reading hour. You don’t remember the last time you had a minute to yourself and self-care is a forgotten concept to you. You feel like you’ve lost your homeschool mojo and in your weaker moments, the grass starts looking greener at your local public school playground. I have had hard days and been overwhelmed and in those moments, I doubted myself and my choices. But by the end of each day, I remember why I do what I do and that the advantages and benefits far outweigh the most challenging times.
2. You are alienated from family members or friends. Beware. Extended family members and friends who have little to no experience with homeschooling can sometimes be the biggest opponents throughout your homeschooling journey. They warn against it because they fear your kids will never make friends or they’ll turn out weird. If you’ve read my previous posts, you know my views on both of those issues. Homeschool kids can indeed enjoy close friendships, just as some public school kids can be surrounded by thousands of other children and yet feel totally and utterly alone.
3. Homeschooling is hurting your marriage. Homeschooling and managing a household is a huge undertaking and the un-ending responsibilities can easily hurt your connection with your spouse, if you let it. The to-do lists grow ever longer and the ever-increasing new opportunities out there for homeschoolers: enrichment activities, college courses, co-ops, field trips, etc. can keep you and the kids so busy that you can actually schedule yourselves out of the home and away from your spouse every single day of the week, including weekends. Making clear boundaries, syncing calendars, and prioritizing each other can go a long way in keeping the marriage happy and romantic rather than a chore gathering dust at the bottom of your to-do list.
4. You find homeschooling personally unsatisfying. I have intensely busy days, every day. But sometimes they are unfulfilling and I miss the glamor and excitement of working an exec job, on Madison Avenue, wearing expensive dry clean clothes, and interacting with smart and eclectic New York clients. My awesome kids range in age from 18 months to 15 years old. In a day, I may cover making lap-folders, finger painting, skip-counting, phonics, math drills, flashcards, on-line science, U.S. history, physics, Japanese, nursery rhymes, literature, and grammar. Then the homemaker in me is texting the husband, shopping, doing dishes, preparing meals, cleaning, folding laundry, making appointments, fixing something, and checking up on my own mom to see how she’s doing. Then later in the evening, the mommy nurse in me is making the nearly empty Neosporin tube cry uncle as I squeeze out the dregs (in my attempt to avoid a Target run at 10 PM) to cover another boo-boo, running baths, reading stories, breaking up fights, soothing hurts, designating chores, etc. Raising a family and homeschooling are not glamorous but the time spent with the kids in those early years is priceless and the personal passions that they discover and the strides that they make towards EVERYTHING is a wonder to see and a privelege to be a part of.
5. You feel like you’re losing yourself. When I threw myself into homeschooling, I found myself giving up all of my hobbies, not pursuing other personal goals, barely seeing my girlfriends, and even neglecting to take care of myself. It was all about the kids and homeschooling for a long time. I was exhausted, depressed and angry with myself and I wasn’t sure why. It was because I had lost myself in my quest to homeschool. I mistakenly thought I had to stop being 'me' and start being a 'proper' homeschooling mom. But I discovered that just being myself and homeschooling along the way is the best way to build a good life for myself and for my family. Don’t try to be the enviably perfect homeschool mom. Be the uniquely awesome you and make homeschooling one of the fantastic things you do, not the only thing you do. It’s a much healthier and happier approach.
6. Okay, this is what’s up - I know this post is titled 7 Ugly Truths but I could only come up with 5 because honestly, homeschooling is a pretty sweet gig and we homeschool mamas aren’t all that dark!
7. What’s one ugly truth about homeschooling that I missed? Fill in here: __________________________________
P.S. In case you’re wondering how a homeschool mom of 6 finds the time to blog - Right now, I am sitting at my messy kitchen table, feverishly typing out this post. My kids are loudly playing a game of dodgeball (yes, you read that correctly, "dodgeball") with the baby gleefully refereeing. And of course, this is all happening in my living room…
1. Homeschool moms don’t wear pants. Michelle Duggar, the most famous homeschool mom in America, has definitely influenced the way people view fashion styles of the homeschool mom. She adheres to a strict, modest dress code and that’s ok, but that is the exception, not the norm. Most of the homeschool hottie moms that I know rock pants, and even shorts. I have seen homeschool moms rock rainbow hair, tattoos, piercings, GunsNRoses tees, distressed jeans, and gasp, even makeup. On the other hand, like Michelle Duggar, some of our homeschool sisters rock long denim skirts and that fresh face glow. We are a diverse bunch of women and we proudly rock personal styles that range from conservative to “Rebel Yell” and everything in-between. That’s the beauty of homeschoolers - “you do you, babe.”
2. Homeschool moms are weird and so are their kids. I sure hope so! Who wants to be “normal” and “ordinary” and by whose standards are we measuring ourselves and one another, anyway? Often I think “normal” and “ordinary” can be substituted with “boring” and “common”. We want our kids to be “okay” and fit in and be accepted, appreciated and validated. There is nothing wrong with that except this - we should never compromise the core of who we are and what makes us joyful. And we should never give up or hide our passions for things that may be off the beaten path just so that others would be more comfortable and accepting of the blander version of ourselves.
3. Homeschool moms are super organized. Here’s a phenomena that I can’t quite explain but definitely experience whenever I meet a new mom. Upon learning that I am a homeschooling mom of 6, she’ll instantly assume that I possess epic skills in organization and just about everything else in the motherhood realm. And yes, sometimes I feel like Logistics Central - a 5’4” human hub where people gather around to get a quick snack and find out what’s what in the upcoming week. Our insane family calendar does not look pretty - it is not adorned with neatly bordered Target washi tape, seasonal stickers or flowery momligraphy. My family’s calendar is sticky, smells vaguely of peanut butter and pickles and the deeper in we are in a month, the more it resembles a war zone of multi-colored frantic cross-outs, potholes, illegible scrawl, and mysterious codes and hieroglyphics.
There are excellent days where everything is going great and my kids are those stereotypical homeschool kids and I am that mythically perfect homeschool mom racking up serious bonus points for punctuality, neatness, excellence, and achievement while also awesomely dropping a pound or two along the way (holla!). But the truth is, just like every other mom in the trenches, I also have my days of mild panic and chaos, wondering how my toothbrush could've disappeared between bedtime the night before and 5 am the next morning, and trying to solve the mystery of why there is a pair of black dress socks in the freezer. I navigate my world of large family living and homeschooling one day at a time and do my best to not be at my worst when it really counts (which is always... no pressure.)
4. Homeschool moms are either tiger moms or unschooling hippies. Yes and yes. And some of us are both at the same time, depending on which of our children we are talking about. I have six children and each child likes to learn a little differently. One of my children loves workbooks and will probably marry one someday. Another of my children hates workbooks and will probably burn all of his someday. They are both smart, curious, and love to learn new things but they do it in very different ways and both styles are 100% ok and legit. Another of my children likes to push himself hard and wishes I had pushed him harder at a younger age. I birthed 6 babies and they all entered the world in a similar way but once they were out, they wasted no time letting me know they were unique people and teaching them and watching them learn on their own has been and continues to be a great adventure.
5. Homeschool moms never lose their cool. I really wish this were true. There’s a saying, “If you don’t yell at your kids, you’re not spending enough time with them.” I don’t support yelling but honestly, sometimes a good yell starts out as a tiny kernel at the back of my throat and when my attitude turns a little salty under pressure, it POPS! I would love to proclaim that I have the patience of Job and the demeanor of Kanga (Roo’s ever gracious mama) but alas that’s not the case. Typically, I have the urgency and impatience of a New Yorker (which I am) and most days, my house is bustling like Grand Central. Let’s just say that sometimes I have to turn up the volume just to be heard over the healthy din of 8 active bodies each doing their own thing.
6. Homeschool moms have lots of kids. Okay, some of us do indeed have a gaggle of kids and our tribe is strong in number. What can I say, we have lots of sex. Oh no I didn't... Oh yes I did.
7. Homeschool moms knit. All of them. All of the time. Okay, this myth definitely has some “truthiness” to it. Have you ever been in a waiting room and there’s a woman just chilling with a knitting project while her well-behaved children quietly occupy themselves with workbooks, iPads, or toys? Homeschoolers. How about a knitting mom perched on a folding chair in the hallway of a conservatory, with little ones in tow, while her prodigy (more on prodigies, later) has a music lesson? Homeschoolers. Knitting is so prevalent in the homeschool mom tribe that if you come across a non-knitter in our community, it’s like spotting a live unicorn in the middle of co-op.
8. Homeschool moms are all raising child prodigies. This myth is a common one that I hear often. The truth is, homeschooling affords families a more flexible schedule, allowing kids to pursue passions and interests at their own pace with fewer distractions. Sometimes that pace is accelerated by how very passionate they are about something that has piqued their interest and curiosity. Oftentimes creative and athletic pursuits such as music, art, writing, sports and drama hook a homeschool child’s interest and some of those kids successfully make a whole life and career out of it right from the get-go. That’s where the legend of the homeschool prodigy generates. But many more homeschoolers are like any other students meaning that they fall somewhere on the learning spectrum from struggling learners and average students to excellent achievers.
9. Homeschool moms are sheltered and submissive. Hella no.
10. Homeschool moms are super conservative. Guilty. I am ultra conservative in all aspects of my life. For instance, I like my thigh high boots in classic black suede and shun the flashier colors. And I play my savage EDM playlists at vulgar and unrelenting concert stadium volumes, like a proper lady (Steve Aoki! Cake Me!).
11. Homeschool moms are either good teachers or totally incompetent. Here’s the hard truth about being a “teacher” to my own kids - I am not really their teacher. You now have some serious insider information regarding homeschool mom intel. The truth is, they are their own teacher. It’s like this: Their life is Mt. Everest. My children are the adventurous climbers. And you guessed it, I am their sherpa. Their glorious successes are theirs to bask in and also, their failures are their own to hopefully learn and grow from. I am their guide - they do their own climbing, learning, and training. I help them with the logistics of education (finance, travel, equipment, teachers, resources and precious open and free time to explore and think and, if needed, I help structure their schedules). They do the actual learning and come up with their own passions to pursue and get excited about.
12. Homeschool moms hate their local schools. Admittedly, some of us are very anti-institutionalized schooling in all of it’s forms. But there are many of us that do not vilify one form of education to uplift another. I am what I call a “hybrid schooling” mom. I have a child who recently entered public school and is prospering. My other children are homeschooling with me as well as through co-ops and other academic communities. As I’ve said before, I believe each child has unique needs and personalities and styles of learning and embracing what they need individually is the absolute best course of action when it comes to education.
13. Homeschool moms all birth their babies in the middle of a serene forest wearing nothing but a crown of wildflowers. Yup. This one is 100% true.
Now that we've got that all straightened out, should I do a Truths About Homeschool Moms Blog? Send me your truths in the comments section and let's make an epic blog list together! Thanks for stopping by themomzoo. Hope to see you again, sister!
People have told me that middle-aged women shouldn't rock long hair - especially middle-aged MOMS. Other advice I never asked for but got includes how I shouldn't homeschool because "blahblahblah". I shouldn't have too many kids (somebody please tell me what's "too many" kids?). I should get my tubes tied. I shouldn't have babies after 40. I shouldn't marry outside of my race. Yada, yada, yada. If I'd listened to all the well meaning advice I've gotten over the years about how to better be ME...oy!
BUT, I didn't. I've lived my life on my own terms and I don't see myself changing any time soon just to conform to any preconceived notions of how I should look or behave at any age.
I am a happy wife and homeschooling mom of six awesome bi-racial ninjas and yes, I am middle-aged and yes, I have LONG LONG hair...
So what is 45? This is 45: You do you and rock that middle age Like. A. Boss.
I wasn't going to post this photo. So many details about this pic bother me. The detail that bothered me the most is that I. am. not. smiling.
I always envied people who didn't smile when they didn't feel like it. I wanted that ease and that level of self-acceptance. I didn't have that and so I smiled. I smiled first, last, and often, in-between. If you're smiling, people don't ask, "what's wrong?" If you're smiling and joking around, people think everything is okay and I guess I wanted everything to be okay because I didn't know how to handle when things weren't okay, and so I smiled.
I still smile a lot. If there was a daily quota for smiles, I'm pretty sure I would nail it every single day. And with 6 amazing and often hilarious kids, I have a lot to smile about. But you know what? Not smiling is okay, too. It's okay to have those feelings and emotions that have no room for a smile. It's taken me a long time to accept this for myself. I want my children to know that it's okay to have feelings and emotions that are not smile-worthy. Those life experiences are just as real and important as the happy ones so don't hide them and don't apologize for them - if you address them and work throught them, a genuine smile may be waiting for you.
Sometimes it's okay not to smile. Some of you may be thinking that's a no-brainer but for me it's personal growth. Once again, I'm glad you dropped by. You are awesome!