Friday, 15 October 2010

I choose to enjoy my children

There is one question that my kids get asked whenever we go out in public during school hours. People not used to having school aged children around always ask the same question.

That question:
"Day off school today boys?"
When we first started homeshooling Leader Boy Warrior would answer enthusiastically and proudly,
"We homeschool!"
Then the enquirer would direct their questions to me. The questions would come thick and fast, and my hope of a quick trip to the store fades and it turns into a question and answer time. Most people are genuinely interested, but mostly curious about homeschooling. The boys have been asked this question so often, that one day when we were asked by a shop assistant, Leader Boy Warrior and I just looked at each other knowingly, smiled and said nothing. We were just so tired of the question and the dozens of questions that followed his standard answer, "We homeschool.", that we just let her believe that the boys were having a day off school.

When answering questions I think, less is more. Most people I talk to have a preconceived idea of what homeschooling looks like and it is usually far from reality. And because there is no 'black & white' standard formula to homeschooling, it is hard to answer the questions without hours of explanation. So I give short and sharp answers. My answers are on a 'need to know' basis.

The most common questions are and answers that I give are:

Q. "Do you get paid for that?"    A. No
Q. "Is that legal?"        A.Yes
Q."Are you qualified?"  -   A. Yes (Less is more remember. I may not have a teaching degree, but I am more than qualified to teach my children because I am their mother.)
Q. "Does the school give you the school work?"      A. No, I submit my own curriculum that is approved by the HEU.
There is one question however that I do take a little more time to answer and it is this one:

Q. "How do you handle being with the kids all the time?"        A. I enjoy being with my children. I do occasionally take an hour or two on the weekend to have a break away by myself. But most of the time I'm OK with being with my kids all the time.
I can see their surprise in me stating that I enjoy my children. In a world where it is normal to say negative things about our children, my answer is not what she expected. To which their reply usually goes something like this:

"Oh I could never do that. I don't know how you do it. I can't wait to get them off to school."

And I see the guilt behind their eyes. Mother-guilt. I see that they think that I am some kind of 'supermum' for actually enjoying my children. I see what I see in my own eyes from time to time.The feeling that we are not a good mother because of choices that we make. I usually reply with something along these lines to make them feel better.

"Oh I used to say things like that too! I actually said that I would never homeschool. I planned my children to be born before June 30, so that they wouldn't be home with me any longer than they needed to me! Homeschooling isn't for everyone. There are some days that I wish that my children are at school, but overall I enjoy it and it just works for our family. Everyone is different."

You can see the relief in their face when I reassure her that she is not a bad mum. When I first became a mother, I had times when I resented not being able to do what I wanted to do. I resented my independence being taken away from me. And I bought into the lie that children should not stop you from what you want to do with your life. Children change your life in a way we never expect. Being a mother is all consuming. The truth is, children are inconvenient and can sometimes be annoying! We are basically selfish and don't like how much they interrupt our lives. Children are hard work. But that is only one perspective.

One woman on finding out we homeschool today said, "Oh I could never homeschool as I am too selfish and love my independence too much." At least she was honest. She said to me, "oh but you look like a real 'Mum's mum" and that mothering came naturally to you." I gave my standard answer to her in response to her assumptions about me, and added that mothering didn't come naturally to me, and that I too was selfish and wanted my independence. But I had made a choice to enjoy my children.

I see facebook status after facebook status filled with complaining that their children are home for school holidays. And when school starts again, there are facebook statuses full of rejoicing that their children are back at school. Not all of my friends have this attitude. This is not about homeschool vs public/private school. There are some that send their children to school who take great delight in spending time with their children over the school holidays. These same mothers are sad when it's time to send their children back to school. These friends of mine have changed their perspective towards their children.

It's all about perspective. The Word says:
Don't you see that children are God's best gift? the fruit of the womb his generous legacy? Like a warrior's fistful of arrows are the children of a vigorous youth. Oh, how blessed are you parents, with your quivers full of children! {Psalm 127:3-4}
When you see that your children are indeed a gift from God, your perspective changes. Sure they are still hard work, but you see them so differently. When you see that those things that annoy us about our children is often because they prevent us from doing what we want to do, it changes things. It is our selfishness that can prevent us from seeing what we have right in front of us. Sometimes when we are so caught up with what our children are preventing us from doing, we don't see what they enable us to do. If you let them, they can stretch you in ways that will help you grow. I know my children have. I have grown in ways that I could never imagined before I became a mother. I am a better person for having children. The key is to be present in the season and not spend your time dreaming about a season without children. Trust me, the years fly by so quickly and before we know it, we will be shaking our heads asking, "where did the time go?"

I choose to enjoy my children. Do I love being around my children all the time? Sometimes the answer is, "No". But it is on those days when I need to check my perspective. Kids will be, well kids. And some days I would rather not be with my kids. But those days especially, I need to choose to enjoy my children. Just like there are days when I need to choose to love my husband. That 'honeymoon' euphoric love that happens at the beginning of a relationship doesn't last forever and it's not supposed to. Love matures and I have to choose to love my husband. So it is with whether or not I enjoy being with my children. It's entirely up to me.

Still taking lessons from the King,




16 comments:

  1. Thanks, Jo. I really love this post. It is so true that it is just a change in focus and attitude. I have learnt SO much from my boys also.

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  2. Really great post Jo! So many mothers need to hear that enjoying children is ok. I think because so many people around us are negative about children taking away "me time" that we can lose sight of just how precious our kids are. Sometimes other mothers just need to hear us be positive about enjoying our kidlets and it makes them realise they can be positive too. I often have to explain that I too like time to myself even though I homeschool, but that I don't get that time often but when I do it's real quality time and I enjoy it so much more, and that , truly learning to enjoy your kids is such a beautiful thing!
    I wouldn't trade home schooling for school anymore!!
    Luv Donna

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  3. This is really good, Jo. I agree with you, it is a choice. It's funny, until I started knowing God, I didn't realize how much everything is a choice. And I love how you reassured those other moms. ..We need to look out for each other's feelings like that.

    We handle adoption questions in a similar way to how you handle homeschool questions. People can be inquisitive at times, not always because they're interested in adoption, but just because they're being nosey. I answer as little as possible, unless I can see that the person has a genuine interest in adoption. Now I'll know to be prepared for those questions with homeschooling too.

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  4. So, so true! It amazes me how much parents bemoan their children. Yes, it's hard work, but they truly are such a blessing.

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  5. You are so right, Jo. Children are a gift from God. And anything worth having is worth working hard for. But, I've heard moms share their relief when the summer holidays are over,too. I think that this new attitude in this millenium is a result of what has happened to our culture over the past few decades. I think women are tired. More than tired -- they are exhausted. In this time of double incomes or single parenting, people are working more hours than ever before. Then, when they come home, being a parent (joyfully) is difficult. It is a shame. I applaud you for making the choice to enjoy your children. You are right, the years do fly by. As you know, my kids are grown and I don't know where the time went. But, I wouldn't trade those years for anything. They are sweet, sweet memories.

    Thanks for sharing your story with us!

    Living for Him, Joan

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  6. Love it Jo! So true - it is a choice at times, but like you said I think it depends on your perspective. Oh, how I dislike being perceived as a supermum! The reality is that we homeschool mums are just ordinary women - we get grumpy at times, we get tired, we worry about what others think, we love our kids, we want the best for them. We just happen to believe that home schooling is that. I love being with my kids - all week :) I also love an hour or two by myself at the weekend :) xx

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  7. So glad to see another mommy that enjoys being with her kids. I cringe when I hear someone say they CANT be with their children. Well, if you cant be with them why did you have them? Do we really have kids with the anticipation of sending them away for most of the day?

    I definitely need a break now and again, but like you, for the most part I love being with my babes. Even when I need that break, I usually spend my free time thinking or talking about my loves.

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  8. great post Jo!
    I love being with my dd too and wish I had more!
    I love how you re-assured that mum, that was so gracious and kind of you:)

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  9. Hey dear - I applaude you for homeschooling your kids, at one time I thought it would be perfect for me, but I think as time has gone by, i think the homeschooling is a special gift for special people like you. I truly admire all those who take the time to homeschool their kids, its a great job you guys do.

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  10. Great post. We've been home shooling for 10 years now. Our son graduated high school in 2008 and our daughter is a senior graduation next June. I would do it all over again in a heartbeat, except that this time I would never put them in school. They went for a couple of years in elementary. I think it is definitely very individual depending on God's calling and leading. I have friends whom I have actually advised to leave their child in school because I saw how God was using their very spiritually rooted child in that place.

    Oh, yes, I remember the questions. Still get some when my daughter and I are out about errands in the middle of the day. We've learned to use other words besides home schooling and save it ONLY for when God led. It was like pearls falling to the ground and being trampled on. Now we know who to share it with and who not to. Since our children were also enrolled in dual enrollment or co-ops, we simply stated the names of those schools or groups when asked. We found clever ways to get around it, unless, as I said, it was someone asking with good intentions.

    No, we are not hermits. Yes, our children are super sociable (more than a lot of traditional schooled children we know). They have been accepted into great colleges and done very well there (daughter dual enrolled). They have been part of Student Government, gone to not one but several Proms, Homecoming, Varsity sports, cap and gown, high school ring, state wide graduation ceremony of over 1,000 graduates, and so much more I'd bore you. Just want people to see that it's not all they are told. Blessings and keep it up!

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  11. Thanks for this post, Jo.
    My heart aches to see some of those FB updates.
    I see homeschooling as a natural extension of parenting little ones... well, it *is* for us, but not for our peers who have their little ones in care so often.
    It's great that you put other mums at ease like that, I must remember that for future encounters.

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  12. I am thankful that homeschooling is even an option. Thankful to God that He has granted me the opportunity to be able to teach my children.

    I love being with my girls:)

    Thank you Jesus, for the option!

    P.S. Thank you so much for stopping by Jo. May the peace of our Lord Jesus Christ reign in your home and in your heart always.

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  13. Hi Jo
    This is my first visit here - shame on me what a fantastic blog ;)

    I don't homeschool my boys but I really enjoy their company and miss them when they are not here with me. I work from home so I can be available for them all the time and be the one to drop off/pick up etc. I have not enjoyed separating from them at all!!

    I get upset by those facebook updates too.

    Narelle
    http://www.momentsformum.com

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  14. I so needed to read this today - I am in such agreement with it being up to us. I think I need to link it up - it's a message worth sharing!

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Thanks for sharing your thoughts on my lessons!

I appreciate you taking the time to comment.

Love,
Jo Princess Warrior xo