...because we all have our motley moments!

Saturday, January 10, 2009

My Own Pandora's Box...Motley Musings of a Confused Mama

I am probably the wishy-washiest, most disorganized of all the Motley Moms. My house is mostly messy (I'm not just saying that...it's really true) and I let my kids dress themselves. Partly because I'm too lazy to assert any control over what they wear and partly because it's good for them to be in control of something in their lives...I can relate. Some days I feel like the outfit I choose to wear is the only thing I've been truly intentional about. The rest of it just happens. Other days, I'm totally in control, confident, and on top of things. Those days are pretty rare. I should start putting a shiny star sticker on the calendar on days when I feel in control, just so I can say for sure that it's hormonal or not.

I do a LOT of activities outside of my home, mostly things that directly or indirectly benefit my family. MOPS, Sunday School, Girls' Nite Out, Once A Month Cooking, playdates, etc. I love it, but it all comes back around to the good of my family. None of it is purely selfish.

We have recently made a huge decision, something that has been weighing me down for months...maybe even years. I've been so conflicted about which course would be the right course for our family. The question: Should we send them to school or homeschool them? Seems relatively simple. To many, the answer is obvious and simple, but for me, it has been severely complicated. I want to do what's best for my kids, and I often feel that I can personally provide that for them. I do provide that for them every day, with the support of my husband, who works so I can stay home with them. I'm creative, energetic, and I love spending my days with my children. It's fun! But it's also extremely draining.

If I homeschooled them, could I keep up this energy and enthusiasm for years while happily living on a painfully tight budget? I don't shop. I wear hand-me-downs. I cut my own hair sometimes. I cut my husband's and son's hair. We share a car. I clean my own house (or just let it be dirty for a few days until I feel up to the challenge). I walk everywhere that I can with the kids and only do activities that are free or dirt cheap. I don't get my nails done, I don't have massages, I don't wear brand names, and I don't pay for childcare.

But the car will soon need replacing. And our son just turned five, which means he needs to start Kindergarten in the fall. Change is on the wind here, and change can be good. We've had a long discussion, an ongoing discussion that we pick up during quiet moments when adult conversation can happen with only a few interruptions. He says he knows that I am capable of homeschooling the children, but is concerned that I will not do well personally. We feel we can supplement their education as needed and perhaps it is time for me to contribute to the family budget...that's hard to hear when you've been planning to be a stay-at-home mom indefinitely. But I want to get serious about my writing. I really think I have a book in me that needs to come out. Probably a book for adolescent readers, maybe teens...not sure yet, but I am so excited at the prospect of having some writing time. Wow...time for me to just think about ideas, be creative, and pursue a dream.

Now I'm asking myself, Is that selfish of me to want some time to myself? To prefer sending my child to a stranger for his education when I can provide an individualized education right here? Is this really for the good of the family? My husband thinks it is, and this is one of those times when I will happily defer to his judgement. He sees what a mess I am by the end of the day. I have nothing left to give. I don't want to be like that for the next 10 years!

So, after a sleepless night last night for both of us, we have concluded that a public education is truly what is best for us, as a family. I am relieved, but oddly disappointed at the same time. Kind of similar to the way I felt a few months ago when we officially decided that we are done having babies. If I could miraculously give birth to a 9-year-old, that would be great. We love having our 9 1/2-year-old niece over to spend the night...she's the perfect age to play with the kids without competing with them, she's extremely helpful, and completely verbal and potty trained! But, alas, popping out a 9-year-old is unheard of and probably not good for me...one can dream, though!

The thought of sending the kids off with the majority of the population for their education is somewhat soothing, yet scary at the same time. Conflicting, I know. But maybe I have to get over my over-achieving tendencies and give up a bit of control to God. He will provide. It's soothing me just to type it out and read those words. God WILL provide. I just need trust in Him.

My children will learn what they need to know and God will equip us to provide whatever they don't learn in school. God will guide us as we tackle the tough lessons they will learn from their peers, and our family will be their backbone and their faith will give them strength when they feel lonely and afraid. It will be hard, but I'm already excited about the possibilities in my future. And I have a short story that's just begging to become my first novel.

Now, which school should we send him to?...talk about Pandora's Box!


Pam said...

Hey Donna, thank you for sharing such a personal story with us. One good thought on the pro list for public schools - your kids can be the salt and light to their peers. Have a great Saturday!

Liz said...

Donna, I am really proud of you. I know this has been a difficult decision for you and Paul both and I'm glad you've come to an agreement. I know that you will be able to supplement their education and Pam is right - they can influence their friends for good instead of their friends influencing them for bad.

Jason and Fawnda said...

This a tough choice! And I am impressed with how much your husband is truly taking care of you... sounds like a good guy.
Writing a book sounds exciting to me (I could never do it) and being a middles school teacher I love to read books for teens- so I think that it is cool that is the age you may gear it to... I would love to read it some day! Teens need good fiction to read!
I also think that you have more than enough in you to supplement your child's education and advocate for them in the public school setting.
Good Luck picking a school!!!

Bryssy said...

Good for you, Donna! I know that your decision will work out for the best. I can't wait to read your book! can I reserve the first signed copy?

Bryssy said...
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Karly said...

I think this is going to be a great decision for your whole family. At this time it seems to be the best option. And the great part about it is you can always reassess along the way if your situaion changes.

I know you will enjoy giving your son many opportunities to enrich his school experience at home. You will be the best class mom ever. Especially if you in charge of the PARTIES!! KID #1 birthday party sounded amazing!! And I can even see to running the PTO. And of course taking time for your dreams will be such a nice treat.

I was a teacher, in my former life, and I still believe in the public education system. I am looking forward to the day when my three little ones are in school and I can have some time to follow the dreams that God has put in my heart! I am not wishing away these wonderful days, just looking forward to the next season.

Good luck in your decision about what school to send him to? The tough decisions never end when you are a parent.

Maria said...

Hi! This is a tough decision. You are one of the very best Moms I know. God will be with you and the kids every single day.

Rachel said...

Congrats on making your decision--I know it's been weighing on you for a long time. I agree with Karly--you will be an awesome class mom! ;)

Donna said...

Thanks for all the support, my Motley Friends! You girls are awesome! Thanks for reading my ramblings...it's not my best work, but it was what has been on my mind and heart for a while.

Have a great weekend!