Monday, March 26, 2012

We're Trying, That's All We Can Do

Since we've decided to homeschool we've received criticism and opinions from everyone and anyone, even though I don't remember asking.  The hard thing about this is that when Hadley was missing weeks of school at a time because her health was so bad, or when she was having anxiety attacks because her school life was so unhappy, no one had any help or advice to offer.  She spent months too sick to be a child, she missed 24 days of school, she had to drop out of every single extra curricular activity she was involved in, and she had to basically quit socializing with her friends, we got all the sympathy in the world.  But, aside from seven medicines costing nearly $200 (post insurance, out of pocket) a month, and dropping out of life, no one had answers.

Keith and I didn't enter into homeschool lightly, we talked to our doctors, the principal, teachers, and friends.  We prayed about it.  We thoroughly considered our options and having our eight year old check out of childhood wasn't one of them. 

There are tons of rewards to homeschooling, I've defended them for weeks now and listed them to as many people as I could.  I've spent the last three weeks listing them, defensively, to everyone who is so quick to tell us why it's wrong so I don't feel the need to do it again in this post.

I wish people would remember that there are a lot of sacrifices, for the parents, that go into homeschool as well.  I've only been homeschooling for three weeks, so I can't even begin to know them all but I can assure you, we considered as many as we could come up with.  I'm PREGNANT (tired, grouchy, hormonal...)!  I enjoy quiet time, it's gone.  I like to lunch with friends, I can't do it.  I use my free time wisely, but now I don't have any.  My kids aren't quite old enough to stay home alone so where I go, they go.  I am solely taking on the responsibility of teaching my child, if she fails all eyes will be on me.  If she were to fail in traditional school there would be several people to share the blame.  These are just a few struggles I'm facing as the teacher, but my support system hasn't asked.

I have been asked about structure and socialization.  Because no one will come right out and say they don't think I'm smart enough, I suppose structure and socialization seem approachable.

One friend, who I love dearly, is worried because she says Hadley needs structure and structure isn't my thing.  She's right, sort of, Hadley does like structure but she's fine without rigidness.  I also think she underestimates my abilities.  I organize events for the women of my congregation on a regular basis, I am part of the team who started and have continued Trunk or Treat at our church, which began with just over 100 attendees and has grown into nearly 500 people.  These aren't events that I'm scrambling around to do at the last minute, and they aren't events that just fall into place.  Admittedly, I'm not doing them alone there are several women involved, and I hope that homeschooling won't be a solo project either.  These events all have to be planned and coordinated, they have to be scheduled appropriately and adhere to a budget while trying to make them as spectacular as they can be and appeal to as many people as possible.  They require structure, and I'm pretty good at them.  So, no, my day to day life isn't rigid with structure or schedules but when I need it, I'm capable of it.

As far as socialization, I think I have it covered.  Honestly, socialization is probably the thing I'm the least worried about.  No, she doesn't spend seven hours a day with 30 other eight year olds and her socialization may not always be her first choice and they may not meet the standards of all the people who are so worried about it, but I guarantee, it's handled!

As far as being smart enough...well, even though no one has commented outright I'll answer that one too.  I'm smart enough to know when I'm in over my head and I'm humble enough to ask for help.  So, there may be things that I just can't teach Hadley and it may start sooner than later, but I will not sacrifice my daughter's future to save my pride.  I'm just not that person, I have a lot of flaws but I can usually keep my pride in check.

So far, I haven't gotten words of encouragement from anyone that I'd hope to get it from, or even expected it from, every discussion has felt like an attack.    Sometimes the people you need support from the most are the ones who can't offer it.  We've gotten support from friends who homeschool their kids, even though they never doubted our decision to send her to public school, they are excited to support us now.  The people who know my family the best, and know that we will do anything in our power to be good parents and offer our kids the best opportunities are the ones who have been the most critical.  It's hurtful and I don't understand it from them, I'd understand from outsiders who don't know us, but not from our closest.  I'm sure they have their reasons and Keith keeps telling me "they just want what's best for Hadley."  Me too.  Keith too.  We're trying.  That's all we can do.

Ironically enough, one of the non homeschooling friends, (actually a teacher in a public school) who has been the most supportive is someone who I know, beyond a doubt, disagrees with our decision.  I know where this friend stands on homeschooling, and I know she doesn't agree with us, but not because she's told me-she absolutely hasn't.  I know this because we're friends and we've had enough discussions that I have a pretty good idea where she stands.  She knows that I don't hate traditional school, I don't think there is anything wrong with it at all.  She knows that our decision to homeschool Hadley was not a stand against traditional schools or teachers, it was just the decision we came to after tons of thought and consideration and out of love and concern for Hadley.

I've admitted before, this may or may not work out, I pray it does but there is a chance of failure.  I don't believe that even if we do fail, we're doing irreparable damage but I recognize it's a different way of doing things and it may even be wrong.  Maybe my hormones are making it more personal than it should be, I really can't be sure.  I did tell Keith that since we are no longer asking for opinions or advice on the decision-it's been made, people should adhere to my grandma's rule "If you can't say anything nice, don't say anything at all" because at this stage, all you're doing is hurting my feelings.  I know these people love us, and I know all they want is the best for Hadley, I know that these aren't personal attacks, and I know they are all said with good intentions and love. 

There are no hard feelings and I'm not angry that people disagree with our decision, it's just hard sometimes because we truly believe we are doing what is right and that we are seeing signs and results to say that it's true and we wish others could see it too.