Saturday, May 21, 2011

Don't Say That

So I'm out at dinner the other night and a parent says to me, "We sent our kids to regular school for the socialization." And now I'm thinking several things...first, why on Earth would you say that to a homeschooler?? Why would you make such an incredibly loaded statement like that to someone you KNOW has decided to keep their kids home? Second, I'm thinking of all the reasons I don't want peers socializing my children. Third, I'm thinking that if that is really the reason you sent your kids to school, it isn't a very good reason. Finally, of course, I'm thinking of all the things I could say but won't because I'm too nice a person.

Such as a sarcastic, "Yeah...socialization is good, but Chris and I prefer to raise our kids in a box with no interaction." Or perhaps a kind, "Oh, are your children puppies? I didn't know!"

I won't go into all the complex reasons why socialization shouldn't happen at school (good place to practice it, lousy place to learn it) but please know that there isn't a homeschooling parent in the world who hasn't heard this a million times and hates it. And there isn't a homeschooling parent in the world who hasn't researched this substantially and made a well-informed choice that works for their family. We aren't judging you for your choice, so please give us the same courtesy.

Overall, Chris was very impressed with my restraint. Let me know what you would have said....

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Home Alone

So yesterday I had to leave Erin home alone for the very first time in her life. Here's the story:

Yesterday morning, Erin, Evan and I went looking for frog eggs. On the way, we stopped at the really tiny post office about 1.2 miles from our house to mail a package to my mom. The package was going to cost $15 to mail, so I went to pay with a credit card. The internet was down so the woman at the counter couldn't swipe my card and I didn't have the cash to cover it. So she put a sticky note on my package with my phone number and said she would call me when the internet was back up and I could go back and it would be all set.

Erin and Evan and I went out on our frog hunt...found nothing. (Not that I can blame the frogs, it was 44-deg and raining. I'd still be buried under leaves too, if I could be!) Anyway, then we went home and as I was getting lunch, Evan begins to fall asleep on the living room floor. Because he has a fairly small window of opportunity for a nap, I quickly got him into bed. When I came out from nursing him, I noticed the answering machine light was flashing and, you guessed it, I had to go back to the post office to mail that box.

I looked at Erin. "I've got to go mail this box, Sweetie, will you be okay?"
She hesitated..."No, I think I want to go with you."
"I can't take you because Evan is asleep and I need you to stay here with him. I'll be 10 minutes, tops."
"Okay, I'm fine. Wait. What do I do if the house catches on fire?"
"Get your brother and get out."
"That's it?"
"Get your brother and get out. Go to [neighbor's house] and call 911. Get your brother and get out."
"Got it. Get my brother, get blankie and get out."
"No...get your brother and get out!"
"Okay, okay!"
"I'll be 10 minutes."

I left, thinking about how my baby girl was growing up. I got to the PO, mailed the box and came out to see that my tire was absolutely flat. Not hey I could still drive a little flat, but oh look, I'm driving on the rim flat. Thinking fast, I brought the car 100ft to a friend's house (so it wasn't on the side of the road) and went to ask her for a ride home. I couldn't find her, so I got my cell phone thinking I would call Chris, have him bike to get the car while I walked home. My phone, however, was nearly out of battery. SOOOOO...I used the last bit of battery to call Erin and tell her I was going to be late and not to panic, and I started hoofing it home. I went as fast as I could, but with all of it, (the getting there, the mailing, the moving the car, the trying to find my friend, the phone call...) I was gone about 30 or 35 minutes.

When I got home, I burst in the door sweaty and out of breath from my speed walk home and say, "I'm hooommmmeee" (you know in that calling, singing voice). I walked over to her saying I was sorry and was she worried and she looked up from her book and said, "What? Were you gone?"


Sunday, May 15, 2011


Today is another important birthday that I cannot let pass unmentioned. Willows, who died shortly after he was born, would be four years old today and he is so very sadly missed.

Just before Sophie's first birthday, I was running the monthly meeting for the support group I had started, and this woman walks in. She was about my age and, when she began to share her story, I realized how much we had in common. We talked a bit after the meeting and it turned out she lived only a few miles down the road from me. Within the month we were hanging out fairly regularly and it didn't take long for us to become very close friends. Her husband and my husband get along famously and her second child, a baby girl, is only two weeks younger than Evan. Our families love playing together, going on adventures together, and generally hanging out together.

Today, I got an email about how she was feeling with this being his birthday...and do you know what? She is sad, yes, that she doesn't hold her son in her arms today. She is missing him and what he would have been, of course. But what worries her the most is this: She writes, people are still remembering, but I'm afraid someday they won't and that's what gives me pangs of pain. And I want to shout out to the world, YES!!! THAT IS IT! Babylost parents learn to hold their pain close and carefully...with the passage of time. We all do it. But our biggest fear is that everyone else will forget. It happens slowly, over time. Year one, 10 people call and a bunch send cards. Year two, 5 call and three send a card. Year three, 5 cards...maybe. Year four? Yeah.... You get the idea. I threw a birthday party for Sophie this year--we invited as many friends as we could and had a big dinner and cake and ice cream. Why? Just because of this very fear. I can handle the idea that my baby died. I can handle the fact that she will never ride a bike or tease her baby brother. I can even handle (most days) the painful hole in our family that will never be filled. What I can't handle is that other people will forget her or forget what she is for our family. That part hurts more than all the rest. So yes, my dear, dear friend, I know exactly what you mean. And I'm here to tell you that whatever happens, wherever life takes us, I will always, always, remember Willows and all that he is to you and your family. I am so grateful to him for introducing us and May 15th will forever be his day. Happy Birthday, Willows!

Friday, May 13, 2011

Happy Birthday Charlotte

Today is the 8th birthday of a little girl, Charlotte, who brought me to her mother, Carol, who oh-so tenderly and gently helped me pick up the pieces of my life after Sophie died. Charlotte's story arrived in my mailbox the day I got out of the hospital in 2007. I couldn't believe what I was was this story of a woman who had gone through the unthinkable torture of losing a child--and she made it. There she was, years later, writing it all down, sharing her story, getting up every day, breathing in and out all day long, caring for her living children...I couldn't believe it. I just couldn't imagine ever being in a place where a normal life even seemed possible. Within minutes of reading her story, I was writing a letter to the editor of the magazine and within a few days, Carol was writing to me. I was in awe of this woman--truly.

In the past few years, I've visited her a few times in her western MA home, I've met her incredible husband and her wonderful children. I've seen all her photos of Charlotte and I've cried with her many times. I can't even begin to explain how much this relationship has meant to me over the years, especially as I recognize the beauty and joy in my own 8yo and know how much Carol is missing hers. So today is Charlotte's day. Happy Birthday to the heart and spirit that started it all--you have no idea how many you have touched with your light.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

What is a mother?

Chris asked me the other day what it meant to be a mother. I had no idea what he meant. "Do you mean like the definition? As in, one who gives birth." No, he meant more in the what does it mean to you kind of way. Strangely, though, I still didn't know quite how to answer him. The truth is this--I never knew I wanted to be a mom until I was one. That may seem silly given that clearly we made the choice to become parents willingly. What I mean is that I spent much of my early adult life planning to be a biology teacher. In high school, I knew that was what I wanted to be. In college, that was the direction I took and, despite (or because of) a small detour to get a master's degree in paleobiology, I became a biology teacher. It was fine. And I do mean that--I met some great people, enjoyed my job, had some fantastic students (and some not-so-fantastic ones!) and generally got very good reviews for what I was doing. It was fine.

Then I had a baby...and suddenly "fine" wasn't what I wanted. This little person, this tiny little being who had landed in our family, needed so much more than fine! Unfortunately, I was stuck--I was the main income for our family and I was also the health insurance. While we knew we could figure out a way to live on very little salary, we didn't feel okay giving up health insurance with a new little one. So back to work I went. I had the summer off, but the following year, I had to go back. That year, things got bad on so many levels that I simply had to quit. We spent many months that year figuring things out. And we did. When the school year ended in 2004, I walked out and never went back. I have never, not even on my worst days, thought of going back (okay, maybe on my worst days I dream of having a career that pays actual cash...). Then Megan was born, then Sophie was born, then Evan was born...and here I am.

So this is what I do. This is what I have given up everything to do. When people ask my husband what he does, he says he is a geologist. What do I do? I'm a mom. A homeschooling, breastfeeding, cloth diaper washing, gentle discipline practicing MOM. It is what I was actually meant to be. The biology teacher thing was just a little aside that helped pay the bills while I was warming up to do this and to be this.

Today the dental hygienist told me she was simply in awe at how beautiful, cooperative, kind and just plain nice our kids were. So while I'm still a little sad I didn't get the convertible I wanted for Mother's Day, I do have something better. I have wonderful kids and an amazing husband who supports my dreams. Probably this still doesn't answer his question...but I guess if I didn't get my convertible, he doesn't get his answer.

Happy (late) Mother's Day to all the wonderful moms out there--whether you get to hold your children in your arms or just in your hearts, you are all amazing to me.

Friday, May 6, 2011

She's Six!

Six years ago, today, I did something pretty cool...

Don't you think so?

So here we are, six years later and I still think she's pretty cool! My little Goose, what would we do without her?! I don't think there is much to say that I haven't already said. Her energy, love, compassion, curiosity, and just plain fantastic-ness make every day so very special. Happy Birthday, Megan, I love you!

Wednesday, May 4, 2011


I belong to an online group that sends me daily inspirational quotes for homeschooling/unschooling, which usually are quite open encouraging. Today, however, I got this one:
I have heard of, read about and communicated with people who referred to themselves as part-time unschoolers, relaxed homeschoolers, eclectic homeschoolers, academic unschoolers and other terms

Limited kinds of unschooling will have limited benefits.

And it made me feel very judged and labeled--especially that last sentence. First of all, I go through great pains not to label myself, my child or what it is we do all day. Now, I recognize that people in the "real" world require these labels and the fact that we are homeschoolers is a label I am willing to wear when we are out there. We take classes in our community that are specifically for homeschoolers, and none of them ever ask me what kind of homeschooler we are, which is good, because there are so many different kinds out there. I know people who have daily check-lists for their kids, I know people who do every subject every day and people who do some subjects on specific days and others at other times. I know people who do unit studies and people who don't. I even know people who, at the beginning of each year, go to the local public school and get that year's curriculum for their child and take it home and do it. There are lots of ways to homeschool...but all of us are simply out there trying to meet our child's needs the best we know how.

Unschooling, which is the label I would mostly wear if I had to, is what works well for us right now. It gives us the freedom to pick and choose what we want and it gives Erin a chance to explore all kinds of things based on what interests her right now. Maybe it will work for us next year too...maybe it will work for us forever...but to suggest that if we don't do it all the time, it will have "limited benefits" or to suggest that there aren't benefits for schooling in other ways is incredibly unfair and, I think, divides a homeschool community that needs to stay together. Homeschooling, like parenting, is hard enough without pinning one kind against another.

Sigh...maybe tomorrow's quote will inspire me to do something cool with my child instead of get on my blog and rant....

Monday, May 2, 2011

Better late than never....

It has been a while since my last post--sorry about that! I wanted to post a few pictures from our most recent trip to FL. Enjoy!

DinoWorld was a big hit with a certain toddler. It was a bit hot for the rest of us, but he was in 7th heaven! "Mommy! Look at this one! Look at this one!"

We did a day trip to the Clearwater Aquarium, home of Winter, the dolphin with no tail (she got tangled in a crab trap as a baby). You may have heard of her because there is a big movie coming out about her on September 23rd, starring Morgan Freeman and other big names. Anyway, now my kids can say they have met her. Megan actually got a kiss from her!

Easter was fun, complete with Easter dresses for the girls and a cutie outfit for the baby boy. Pictures took a while...and you can always tell when Erin is done with them!