Saturday, May 11, 2013

Smile Log 116: A Mother's Support and Appreciation

This time last year, I was deep in thought. My son was finishing his worst year of schooling filled with outbursts and meltdowns. I was getting regular calls from the school and he was getting more frequent detentions. 

So what’s the solution? 

Well, the district says “We have a smaller class setting for him next year.” 
“Sounds great!” I said.
“But, it’s in another school,” they said. 
“Ugh, not so great,” I thought. 
“He’ll share gym, lunch, and recess with the whole grade,” says the important people in suits.
“And you realize that’s when he has the most trouble and the times where he earns detention, right? You know that’s his biggest struggle, right? Handling large groups of kids during noisy and more chaotic times?” I said. “Umm... I was under the impression you guys might have been on the right track, but clearly that train derailed.” I depressively thought. So now what? 

I found myself reluctantly contemplating homeschooling. 

Yikes! Me? Homeschool? I’m no teacher! 

I have NO patience and how would I bring back all those long-ago forgotten facts? I thought most of it was pretty useless then and I’ve only lived to see that most of it was, indeed, useless to me now. 

Well, no need to switch trains just yet. I’d mention it to my husband who'd think it’s ludicrous, which would lead to two scenarios. His logic would either make me see how crazy it really was or fuel my desire to prove him wrong. That will put me on track at least...”

“Honey, I’m thinking maybe we need to homeschool.” 
“I think maybe we should, too.” 

Say what? He agreed to this??? Since when did he get on the homeschool bandwagon? That wasn’t a scenario I was expecting. Crap, now I’ve really got to start thinking about this because my man was backing me up on it. Full steam ahead? Not yet. 

I read the laws on homeschool and they were cumbersome. Maybe homeschooling wasn’t the ticket. Not to mention, just about every other parent I shared my ideas with was basically saying I was crazy. That they could never, would never do it. The school staff didn't seem supportive either. 

I needed honest advice. 

“Mom, what do you think about homeschooling?” I asked, steeling myself for an answer. After all, I wasn't even sure what I wanted to hear. 
“I think you should do it. Obviously, you could do a better job than the school,” she declared without hesitation.
“Yea, I don’t know about that. I mean, yes, his behavior has definitely gotten worse, but I can barely get through homework with the kid. And I have no idea what I’m supposed to teach or anything.” 
“When you were trying to figure out what was going on with your son, you researched everything. You read everything, you figured it all out. You knew more than some of the doctors you took him to and so I think you’d be great at homeschooling. You’ll put the same effort into that as you did when you were trying to figure out what was going on with him and how to get him help. You can do this! Besides, it would have to be better than waiting for the school to call again.” 

I wasn't sure what I had wanted to hear from my mom, but it was exactly what I needed to hear. My mom's true faith in me. She didn't doubt for a second that I was up for the job. 

So it began... Our homeschooling journey, with me as conductor and our two wonderfully unique kids as passengers, fueled by a few wise words and unending support. 

I definitely had some difficult times there in the beginning. I stressed about curriculums. I worried whether or not they were really learning anything at all. There were days when I would call my husband in tears, distraught over how long it took my son to get through a lesson because he had the attention span of a dog in a field of squirrels. I cried over feeling under-appreciated and overworked. Didn’t these kids know that I was giving them my all? Couldn’t they just do a little work without acting like I was telling them to cut the grass with a pair of kiddie scissors?! In the words of my daughter, “Grrr...”

But my husband was there for me. “Hang in there, babe.” He always found a way to reassure me. “You know, I tell people all the time about how you’re homeschooling and doing great. I brag about you.” Even when I wasn't thinking I needed to hear it, he was there with his appreciation and support. "I think what you've done has been great for our family. You really have done an amazing job."

So, though we had a rocky start that felt all uphill, our journey eventually got smoother. I learned to enjoy the ride and take in the scenery. I had two kids that were actually soaking it all in with me. 

And, here I am, a year later. They love it. We do schoolwork, hands on learning, and field trips and we can come and go all we want. Sure, they’ll try to weasel their way out of as much real work as they can, but they’re doing just fine. It feels like a gift when my son goes into an unprompted lecture of plant fertilization. I feel recharged when my daughter tells me what time it is or multiplies to solve an every day problem. What more could a homeschool mom ask for?

Recently, my son's  school therapist said that he was so much happier and going with the flow better. She’s been thrilled with his progress. I’ve had at least three teachers stop me to tell me they could tell I was doing what was best for my son and it clearly was the right choice. I can’t express how much that fills me with appreciation for the support I had this year. 

My mother’s and husband’s support and their faith in me got me through. Every time I doubted myself, I had encouragement. When I was ready to send those deviants packing and back to school, I had a reminder of what a great job I’d been doing. I’ve had lots of support throughout the year from many people, but I wouldn’t have even gotten on board this crazy train if it weren’t for my mom and my husband. You've brought smiles to not only me, but to my children as well. As their mom, nothing means more to me. 

Thank you for this and so much more.