I meant to get this post out earlier this week, but there never seems to be enough time in the day 🙂 . Miss W. was so sweet to mention us in the Student Challenge: Week 8, and I wanted to make something special for her. So, I have added a Thank You Miss W. page.
Also, I made a Gifts for Visitors page where I have added some of my bookmarks, coloring pages, and such for all of our wonderful visitors to use.
Miss W. suggested that I write a post about my school experience when I was younger and compare it with homeschooling my children, adding the pros and cons. But as I started writing, it grew into something a little more than that, not sure why. It was not my intention to share with the world all that I have written below, but maybe it was something I needed to do for me.
A Journey Into the Unknown
Growing up, I went to public school. I thought my teachers were awesome, some more than others, but they all seemed to care about me. I was the ideal student, worked hard, cared about my grades, never got into trouble. The only downside was that I cared too much about what my peers thought.
I wanted to fit in with the “in” crowd, and to do that you had to dress cool, have money, a cool car, go to parties where the kids did things I knew I shouldn’t do. A lot of times, I felt all alone. Since I didn’t fit in with the cool crowd, my only way of feeling good about myself was to get awesome grades, so I studied hard, which only made me more different. At the time, it seemed like the “good” grade was what was most important, and sadly, I focused more on getting a good grade than on what I was learning. It was easy for me to study for a test and pass, but then it all went right out of my brain.
Eventually, I found a group of friends who were like me and accepted me. Only, I still longed to be “popular.” If only I could have found that acceptance within myself without the need of approval from others, something I fortunately, now feel. It seems as if I have spent my adult years healing the pains of my childhood, amazing what we take with us into our adult life.
Even with the trials and tribulations of school life, I never once thought about the idea of being homeschooled; I thought that homeschooling was weird, strange, and very uncool, that only backwards people and extremist homeschooled their kids. Homeschooling my own children was something I never planned to do.
When my son was born, all that changed. He was so sweet, precious, and kind-hearted. I began to worry that if I sent him to school before he was ready to understand that in life not everyone is kind and how to deal with that, that his sweet little soul might get crushed if someone was mean to him. Pondering this concern, I discovered a book on homeschooling while at the library one day. I read through the whole book and thought, yes, I can do this. What a brilliant idea. So, I plunged headfirst into homeschooling. For his age, my son was incredibly intelligent, and homeschooling him was easy. He was like a sponge and understood everything so quickly.
Then, my daughter was born, and at the same time, my stepdaughter came to live with us. Life changed dramatically for me. My stepdaughter was a very troubled little girl who needed lots of attention, and my newborn baby girl was a very demanding baby; she never slept and cried all the time. Chaos was my new life.
My stepdaughter went to public school. She was in second grade and begged that she too could be homeschooled, that she hated school, but I couldn’t. Homeschooling her was not an option, at least our lawyer did not think it was a good idea. At the time, we had only been able to get temporary, emergency custody of her, and it took a long time to get full custody. Eventually, we got full custody during the last half of her third grade year, so I brought her home to be homeschooled, bought the K12 curriculum to use with her, and we dug into studying. It went horribly.
To do it all again, I would definitely do things differently. My stepdaughter was so emotionally unhappy inside, studying was not what we should have been focusing on, but I felt this pressure to make sure I would not let her get behind academically. I should have just let her play, talk, feel loved, and allowed her to take all the time she needed to heal. Instead, I focused on making sure she got her schoolwork done, which only caused more problems and made her feel like I cared more about that than her. I did my best to love, help, and care about her, but it was a full time job, and trying to homeschool her on top of it all was more than I could do. Not to mention, I also had a baby that cried all the time and never slept. And lost in the midst of it all was my poor son, who was beginning to get left out and neglected by me, something I felt absolutely terrible about. Because of my my lack of understanding and knowing what to do, I put my stepdaughter back in school the next year. It was really just selfishness on my part, for when she went to school, it was like a break for me during they day, which made me feel extremely guilty and like a horrible person. Why couldn’t I have been stronger?
In order to ease my guilt, I made sure that she had all the “things” she wanted, new clothes, the latest “cool” stuff that all the kids in school had. (My own childhood pain coming through here. I had thought that if I had been able to have all the cool things when I was younger, that life would have been better, that I would have been happier. I did not realize until much later on that it doesn’t work.) I tried to be a good “mother” to my stepdaughter. When she came home from school, we would talk about how her day went. I listened to her pains and feelings about her mom, trying my best to help. I got involved in everything she did in school, helped with all her projects and plays, and planned special parties for her and her friends.
The fact is, I became a very busy mom, taking care of my children. I was running all over town, taking my kids to activities, outings, and events, spending too much money and not thinking twice about it. I was also super involved in my homeschool group, writing the newsletter, planning get-togethers, parties and classes. We went on field trips, had park days, not to mention all of the craft activities and special things I planned for my children at home. I was doing everything that children needed in order to feel loved and happy, or so I thought.
I became so involved in my children’s lives that my husband began to feel ignored and neglected, and I was also putting a tremendous amount of stress on him financially with all of my spending, justifying that it was for the “good” of our children, and told him that he just needed to make more money. Needless to say, this caused great strife in our relationship. By the time my daughter was kindergarten age, I began to feel very frustrated, angry, and burnt out, and thus decided to put my son and daughter in school, thinking that it would be better for them and me. It did not help. Unhappiness reigned more than ever in our house.
My son and daughter did not like school. My son was made to work on projects with the kids who were struggling in school, and thus, he would end up doing all the work himself while the other kids took credit for it, something he really did not like. Another thing he did not understand was the “punish all” system where when a few kids acted up, everyone had to suffer, like having recess taken away and not being allowed to talk at lunch. There were even a few times when he did not get to go to recess for a whole week. “How is this fair?” he asked his teacher one time. She told him that it was just the way it had to be. Also, he sadly learned in a very traumatic way about how people felt prejudice just because someone is a different color by getting punched in the stomach one day and being called a nasty, foul name.
My son had two teachers, and I tried to talk to them about these things, one was super helpful, a wonderful woman and teacher, and did her best to make things better. Certainly, the punching thing never happened again, but all the same, it had left my son with a great pain. The other teacher, however, was unwilling to change her policy of everyone’s recess being taken away and continued to make my son work with the kids who were doing poorly with their work.
My darling little daughter came home crying all the time because a girl in class was constantly bullying her and calling her names. Her teacher was really great and tried to help, but drawing attention to the matter only seemed to make it worse. The bullying continued more than ever when the teacher was not around, and my daughter did not want to be labeled as a “tattle-tale.”
Also, at this point in time, my stepdaughter, being much older now, had started hanging out with an unsavory group of kids in school, making things even more difficult and troublesome with her, which saddened me because she had really been working on seeing the beauty in herself. She started lying, being withdrawn, and treating her brother and sister terribly.
My family was crumbling before me. My children were unhappy and fought all the time. My husband and I were at odds with each other. The pain of all that was happening was unbearable. Crying myself to sleep every night, I asked – Why? Why? Why? This had not been my dream of a beautiful, happy family. I felt like a failure as a wife and a mother. I did not understand where I had gone wrong, so I started blaming my husband for everything. But I was so very wrong.
It wasn’t until I realized and admitted that the world around me represented the world within myself that I was able to make a change, that I had created the nightmare. I “talked the talk” of love and beauty, but I was not “walking the walk.” I had become a bad example, so what did I expect? I was the problem. I was to blame. I had to fix it. Admitting this was one of the hardest things I have ever done.
Desperate to save my family and my marriage, I looked for the answers to what to do. School had not helped; it had only made things worse, drawing everyone further apart from each other, allowing my children and myself to not have to deal with the truth of the hurtful feelings that were building up inside. My thoughts were that if I brought everyone home, including my stepdaughter, we could get rid of all of the outside influences, and bring out into the open all of our feelings, heal them, and be a happy family again. So, I took everyone out of school. My son and daughter were very happy to be home, but my stepdaughter resented me very much for doing this. She had grown to depend upon her new group of friends, not realizing how they were changing her, and did not want to leave them. I was at a loss about what to do. Was I making a mistake? Was I only going to make things worse? I felt so helpless, but I had to do something.
Plunging headfirst, we completely unplugged from the world and began our healing journey, a journey into the unknown. Every second, minute, and hour of the day was spent talking about our emotions and feeling, and when my husband was not at work, he and I spent every moment talking about our feelings and healing our pains with each other.
While all of this was going on, I was also trying to fit in some sort of homeschooling, not doing all the running around and being involved like I did before, but at least trying to fit in some academic learning. It didn’t work. Who cared about schoolwork with the anger and hurt feelings floating through the air. It felt as if I was trying to build a building on top of a foundation that was crumbling. At some point in time, you just have to accept that the only way it will work is to knock down the building, dig up the old foundation, and pour a new one, making sure it is much, much stronger this time. Then, you can build your beautiful building on top, knowing that it will stand tall on firm, solid ground.
Thus, rebuilding my children’s foundation is what I focused on. They shared their pains with me and each other, and like trying to walk through a deep snow, we made progress, but it was slow. They told me about all of the things they did not like about me, which was so hard and painful to listen to. I had so tried to be a good mother, and it hurt so much to hear how they really felt. But I listened and loved their feelings, for their feelings were theirs. If I told them they were wrong, it would only make things worse. Crying myself to sleep every night, I just wanted to die. The ache in my heart was more than I could bear, crushing down on me with the weight of the world, but I had to be strong. I had to! There was no other choice. So, I persevered, listening and caring to their hurtful feelings about me.
One instance I remember was that my stepdaughter got really mad at me, yelling that I didn’t care about her and just took off walking, so I followed her, scared something might happen to her. After about five miles, she quit, turned around, and looked at me. Then she started crying and hugged me, saying, “You really do care. My mom would never have come after me.” I broke down in tears as well, weeping with heartfelt joy that maybe she did see that I truly did care. We sat there for hours talking, and after that, it seemed like we were really making good progress, that she was really beginning to feel loved. (But now, I realize that maybe there were just some pains that she felt with her mom that I could not help her heal, or I don’t know. I still don’t understand.)
After six months, she asked if she could go back to school, and thinking that it would be okay, that she was in a better place emotionally, we said yes. This is the part of the story that I will have to summarize. She again found a new set of friends who influenced her back into the negative world of thought. She told me she did not like my happy world thinking, that she wanted to go live with her mother, and she eventually made it impossible for us to say no. (I will not say how, but it was so serious that we did not feel like we had a choice.) We did not know what to do. We couldn’t lock her in her room. With great sorrow, tears, and a feeling of failure, we let her go to her mom’s. My husband still wakes up in great agony over this. He is the most caring, giving, wonderful father and husband one could ever hope for. The feelings of failure as parents threatened to destroy us once again, but we had to be strong and push through, thinking of our other two.
Looking back, I sometimes I wonder if letting her go back to school was the right choice, or if taking her out to begin with was right? I wonder if I had just been a stronger, wiser person when she was younger, and had understood what I do now about healing emotions and pain, and if I had just continued to homeschool her from the beginning, could I have done a better job helping her, and would it have turned out differently? (I believe in her strength and greatness to find her way through the storm, always sending her thoughts of love, knowing that she will one day see the beautiful soul that she is.) I guess I still feel the immense pain of this, because I don’t think I can write any more about it.
(I must take a moment here for the tears are beginning to stream down my face as the memories of those times are flooding back, something I have not felt in a long time.)………………………………………………………
Okay. I’m better now.
So, after my stepdaughter left, my son decided he wanted to go to school, something I was afraid to let him do. Was he too trying to run away from facing his pains? He wanted to go to school, a place he had not enjoyed, and we were still dealing with the pains of that. I didn’t know what to do. So, I told him that in another year, if he still wanted to go, that he could. Surely we could fix and heal everything by then. Thankfully, by the time the next year rolled around, he came to me and said that he did not care to go to school any more. Seeing and feeling the peace that had come back into my dear boy, I encouraged him to go, that maybe it would be fun and something he would like, wanting him to know that I believed in him. He assured me that he really did not want to go. So, we continued on.
There was still more healing that needed to be done, a seemingly never ending battle, but we all (my children, my husband and myself) had crossed over to that place of love, knowing and feeling that everyone truly did care, which allowed the forgiveness to take place much more quickly and the feeling of love was free to grow greater and greater from there.
Now, many years have gone by, and the hours of talking and working on hurt feelings and emotions are no longer a primary issue for my family. With tears of joy, I feel so thankful and blessed that I have been given an opportunity to make everything right. The dream I believed in for so long is now a reality. My husband and I are best friends again and have healed all of our pains that we are aware of. If an old pain does comes along, we are both willing to deal with it immediately with compassion for the other one’s feelings. My children are happy, content, and most of all they feel loved. They are kind, caring, and get along with each other. They still squabble from time to time, but if anything hurtful is said, no one gets away with it, and they have to talk about whatever it is immediately until it is resolved. Having healed the layers of built up animosity that use to exist, makes for a much quicker and easy fix these days. In fact, I cannot remember the last time we have had to have a long sit down talk. Makes me feel like crying again. I guess I just don not have the words to express the immense thankfulness I feel.
With my children’s foundation now being one that is well built, we are working on the kind of building that they would like to see on top. Now, my new stress is worrying again about what they should be learning academically. Are they learning enough? Am I do a good enough job? Am I failing them in their academic growth? When I start worrying too much, my husband reminds me that they have their whole life ahead of them to learn all that they need to know. They are incredibly smart and intelligent, and now that they believe in themselves and feel loved, there are no worries, and he is right.
I am reminded of how right he is when adults come up to me who know my children and tell me how amazed they are with them. For an example: a neighbor was talking with my son one day, and later on the neighbor came over to me and said, “I can’t believe your son is only seventeen. He is so polite, confident, well-spoken, and knowledgeable. I felt like I was talking with another adult. He started telling me all this stuff about the state of the economy, peak oil, and stuff I didn’t even know about. He answered all my questions and asked questions back. I was not like that at all when I was his age. I guess your homeschooling is really working well.”
I just stood there, letting the warm feeling sink in, “Yes,” I replied,”I guess it is.”
Another neighbor of ours has a little, six year old girl, who has been coming over to see if my daughter will play, and she will go over to play once in a while. One day my neighbor said to me, “I can’t believe how sweet, polite, and kind your daughter is. She is so patient with my little girl. I hope my little girl turns out like yours one day.”
I don’t really need the acceptance or approval of other people to know that my children are wonderful. They are! But I guess after all that we have been through, I can’t help but to love hearing it.
My children are curious and ask questions about things all the time, many of which I do not know the answer to, so the internet has been a big help there. These are the times when they don’t even realize that they are learning, the best kind of learning. Sometimes it is hard when people ask them what kind of subjects they study, because in reality, they learn about all different kinds of things. Sometimes they start telling me about something that I did not know they had learned, like the example above about my son and my neighbor. I didn’t know he knew all of that, and when I asked him, he said from a documentary he had watched and reading the news online. He keeps up with the news every day, which I did know that, because he comes in and we will discuss the different things he has read. One day, my daughter starting spitting off all of these facts about animals, something that I do not remember her studying. She said she read about it on National Geographic. When I think about it, I have tons of examples like these. My husband is right. I need to quit worrying and remember to believe that all is fine, because it is.
Here is something interesting I found while writing this post:
I started a journal in April 2008. I only wrote on two pages, but it was me writing down a confirmation of what I believed was inside me (unrealized) and what was possible for me to create.
“My Dream of Me and My Dream World”
- To bring light, joy, peace, and happiness to the world.
- To be an inspiration to others, especially my children.
- To enjoy every moment.
- To see the beauty in the pain, joy in the sorrow, love in the hate.
- To see the love and beauty that is everywhere and in everyone.
- To be understanding, compassionate, patient, kind, aware, loving, and wise – a better wife and mother.
- To always see, feel, and believe in the magic of Love.
- To always dream – to believe in my dreams.
- To help my children to believe in their dreams.
- To experience, feel, share, and live the greatness of life, and the beauty of the world with my most wonderful husband. To be best friends again. That we may we always be connected to each other in our minds, heart, and soul, and never feel the pain of losing that ever again.
- That our children will be happy, healthy, wise, and feel loved. That they will feel at peace within themselves. That they will always feel their greatness, beauty and strength. That they will always believe in themselves. That they will always be friends and care about one another.
When I wrote the words above, it was not something I felt or that was, but I wanted it to be. So, I began to believe it was possible. I had to live as if it already existed.
I repeated a mantra to myself every day, a thousand times a day to help me believe in me, and that my dream was possible; my brain needed re-wiring. My mantra was: I am love. I am beauty. I am peace. I am joy. I am happiness. I am strength. I am healing. I am energy. I am wisdom. I am courage. I am light. I am truth. I am magic.
Every time I said I am not “something.” I added it to my mantra list, and I told myself that I am that “something.” For example: I use to say, I am a failure as a mom. So I added, “I am a great, loving, wonderful mom” to my list. And repeated it over and over again until the negative thought quit coming through my mind. Fortunately, I no longer have to keep reminding myself of those things. I just feel them now.
The truth is that the “Love Grows From Inside You.” Around here, we call it the “Missy May philosophy,” because my husband wrote a children’s book, which I illustrated, called Fear in the Secret Garden of Missy May. (During our period of healing, I discovered that I liked to draw and that my husband could write beautiful words of inspiration, which I insisted that he write down on paper.) He incorporated the thoughts that we have learned to believe in and do our best to live by into the children’s book. It may sometimes be hard to believe that you can change your world for the better, but it is possible. We are a living example.
Never quit believing. Your dreams can be as big as you wish.
Believe YOU, always!
Being brave enough to post my feelings of failure as a mother for the whole world to see, something I could never have done before because of my own self-judgement, shows me how much I have grown and how much I really do believe in me. Letting go of my guilt, not hating myself for my faults, and being able to be forgiving of me, has been the most difficult challenge, but a most necessary one to conquer in order for me to become all that I wanted to be for my family.
By no means am I perfect wife, mother, or homeschool teacher, but I continue to strive to always be better. I am more accepting now of hearing about my shortcomings, and I am more than willing to change the things about myself that need to be changed. I have learned from my mistakes and have used my pains, regrets, and guilt to become a more compassionate and understanding person than I use to be. My children have been my greatest teachers, and my husband, a most loyal, caring, wonderful friend.
I am most grateful and feel blessed that my husband and children gave me another chance. Their laughter, love, hugs, and smiles are the greatest reward I can think of.
The picture below is a poem, something that brought to me much comfort in my troubled times. Click on the picture to view larger.
Well, nothing like a walk down memory lane, but now it is time for me to go. I have been working way too long on this post, and my husband is patiently waiting for me to watch some t.v. with him, so I am going to wrap this up quickly and quit worrying about spending any more time fixing my grammar and writing mistakes. 😯 🙂