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Wednesday, June 6, 2012

A Mom By Any Other Name

While I was looking into home schooling for Eldest I wandered into the homeschooling forums, a place rife with acronyms, typos, and vitriol. One thread grabbed my attention "Why do some families quit?" I shouldn't have clicked.

The opening post was friendly enough. "I just want to know why people leave homeschooling when it's so wonderful? Why would anyone want to miss this?"

Because I know bugger all about teaching a kid to read. I can teach science, but reading? Babes, my editor earns her paycheck!

But that wasn't what the other people said. They gave other reasons: sports, band, life changing events... and then there was the Militant Home School Moms. Their answer was simple: people aren't committed! One MHM wrote, "Some people aren't ready for this level of excellence. Homeschooling isn't just a thing, it's a lifestyle. A mom should give up things for her children. Hobbies, jobs, things like that aren't as important as your children."

Guess how fast I ran...

I'm all in favor of hands-on parenting. I believe in being actively involved in your child's life. But not to the point where you cease to exist as an individual.

It's a tightrope walk, to be sure. Parents dance around this line, trying to find the balance between being a worker, lover, spouse, parent, friend, child, citizen, leader, teacher, and example. We juggle the hats and try to have a sense of self at the center of everything.

I will always be leery of someone who dismisses my needs as a human being for a label. Mom is one of my most important titles. It's a job I can't afford to fail. But, in 18 years when Bunny leaves for college I still need to be me. I can't stop growing, stop learning, or stop living because I'm a mom. I don't think shelving my dreams because I have children is healthy, quite the opposite in fact.

No matter what title or hat I'm wearing, at the end of the day I'm a human being. I can give nothing more to my family and the world than what I have inside. If I hollow myself out through neglect and rejection I have no foundation to be a mother, lover, or author.

There's a fine line between selfishness and caring about others enough to care for ourselves, but we need to find that line and get on the right side of it. We need to love ourselves enough to protect our dreams.


  1. This is exactly why I started writing again. I was disappearing under the labels of 'wife' and 'mother' and however proud I am of those titles and however much I love them, I was completely losing my sense of self. Of me.
    Writing gave that back to me. I can still be a mum and wife, but I can still be ME too. :)

    1. There are days I feel like I'm fading. I get buried under Mom, Wife, Teacher, Parent, Cleaning Lady, and Cook that I cease to feel like Liana. When people ask me to describe myself in three words and all I can think of is labels... it scares me, honestly. All of those things are important, but I need to be a person when my children are grown, not a label.

  2. And this is one more reason why I love you. (In a non-creepy way.) All I can say is amen a thousand bazillion times.

  3. WOW! Great post, Liana! I agree, we can't forget who WE are in the process of raising our children. I want my daughter to be able to tell her friends, "My mom does _____" or "My mom accomplished ____, so can I!" Homeschooling is NOT for me, LOL. Although, I have numerous friends that this works for.

  4. Hear hear! Showing Bunny that you are a vibrant, intelligent woman in your own right is as important a lesson as you will ever teach her. You are the first and most important example.

  5. Amen and amen!

    We waded into the homeschool waters because my son was not being set up for success in public school. Now we're not sure what to do next year. We're looking at some small private schools, but we're not completely sold on that solution, especially since we'll need to find somewhere for my oldest daughter as well (because she'll be done with elementary school). But if I homeschool both of them, my time to focus on my career will be severely limited. That's really frustrating to me.

    I'm committed to making sure my children have a good education, and if no other decent solution presents itself, I'll homeschool them. But I was a mite offended when a very young single woman with no children suggested that me being able to homeschool my children was a "blessing." No, it means I have to give up my career, my personal identity, my mental space for several years. That's not a blessing. It's not exactly a curse, but I'm certainly not happy about it at all. I don't feel "blessed"--I feel miffed that I can't trust the public schools to do their jobs.

    *puts soapbox back in the closet*

    Sorry for turning this into a rant. Rest assured that I will NEVER be a Militant Homeschool Mom! :) Rather, I'll be the Reluctant Homeschool Mom who's dragged into it kicking and screaming and as pissed off as a wet cat. :P


    1. That's exactly where I am. I want the best education for my kids, but I still can't look at homeschool and see it as something wonderful. All I see right now is the time and energy I put into homeschooling (prep, planning, teaching, grading, ect) as time and energy that weren't spent on other things (writing, baby, taking care of the house, sleeping).

      Eventually, maybe, I'll be able to see the benefits and find a way to balance my schedule so I can do everything. Right now... no. I've always said being a parent is a full-time job. Goodness knows writing is a full-time job. Now I've added a full-time teaching job to my schedule. Not because I have delusions of being the best teacher in the world, but because I know right now this is the best option for my child.

  6. Being a parent is a balancing act. We stand as examples for our kids as well as being there for them. Each of us finds our own way to balance everything.

    For myself, I never considered teaching my child to be another job but to be part of being a mother. We taught Mouse to read by reading to her and pointing out the words as we read. We had alphabet books and toys that made teaching part of playtime.

    If anything, we made it harder for her to go to public school because learning at home was fun and school was boring. Also she was reading equivalent to grade three when she started grade one. Since the years leading up to school age meant that I or Hubby was spending so much time with her anyway, we simply incorporated homeschooling into our routines.

    The downside was that not only was she reading two levels above everyone else, she was also using words college students had trouble with (thanks to Hubby's tendency to use large words all the time). Her math skills were also in advance of her class. Her science and history knowledge were all over the place though as we taught her what she showed interest in or got Hubby going. This made school a mix of boredom, frustration, and some interest as she got into subjects we hadn't covered. And of course art class was fun.

    For me, school age meant I could return to having some "me time" as well as do what I wanted for a few hours every day. The break was badly needed. However, we didn't stop doing our version of homeschooling after she started school. For us, it was being responsible parents and teaching our child to expand her horizons and learn to look beyond what was taught in the school system.

    Some people have their children as their interests and are willing to devote all their time to their children. Most people want to have their own lives along with raising their children so have to learn how to balance them.

    The Militant Moms (and Dads) either follow or try to follow the first group. From what I've seen, people who go against their natures end up unhappy, bitter, and frustrated and sometimes take those emotions out on their kids even though their kids never asked them to give up their lives to tend to them.

    Look at Eldest being home as another way to teach her more about being an adult. Let her help you with Bunny and taking care of the house. Schedule some time to do something for yourself when she can feel like she's in charge of something - like letting her do the laundry while you do some task associated with your writing, maybe answering emails or writing a blog post. She's old enough to want to show she's responsible without having to be responsible for everything.

    After all, a hundred years ago she would have been responsible for helping with household chores rather than spending time playing.

  7. Yes, exactly! As much as I enjoy being involved with their school, I also need them to be at school. They need exposure to other people and social situations and I need time off from being mom. I get enough 'teacher' time helping with homework, thank you very much.

    I'd much rather show them that moms have friends, hobbies, and despite being on-call as mom 24/7, are people too.