A homeschool moment that made Mommy snap!

How this homeschooling Mommy snapped after 12 years of experience homeschooling.

 The overwhelming homeschool moments you don’t see coming!

When you have been homeschooling children for 12 years one would think you have everything down to an en exact science and that things wouldn’t get overwhelming. Perhaps that is the case for some people, that really isn’t the case for me! I am about to share a moment that I would consider a Mom fail. I am doing so because I think too much of online life is fake, or pinterest perfect, and I want to be helpful and real. It isn’t easy to be this raw, but rarely are easy things worth doing and so for your hopefully kind and compassionate judgement and to help you see beyond the rainbows and stars and perfect homeschool children, this is what happened.

We just moved 2 weeks ago, the house still a mess of boxes stacked precariously high in places making it hard to move and a constant mom anxiety for fear of things toppling on children. Husband, the rock of family, and brilliant, is sure all is safe. I worry about everything so of course nothing is safe in the back of my mind. We unpack as we can and it will all work out, just the newest move in over a dozen in the last 19 years. I have honestly lost count.

November hit me like a sack of crab apples. Hard and bitter even. Halloween had been everything it should have been. We had of course unpacked the outside decorations straight away when we got here for all to enjoy. It brought some joy to a hard move. While we have people here we are so excited to see again, there are so many we have moved far from and it is hard on the heart. If you are a military family too, you know how that goes.

I had been so wrapped up in Halloween I forgot about November. So much to do! Thankfully most of the kids can homeschool basic subjects online, but we need to get other things unpacked. I need to get the kids registered with a local umbrella school and file in this state to legally homeschool. On top of that, I am behind my own work, deadlines hitting hard. There were also errands to run! my husband came home early afternoon and out he and I went. The day was a blur of to do’s and I was not at all organizes. Then he reminds me, “did you pick a park for later this afternoon?” um…. “what?” I was so confused. “You know, NaNoWriMo.” he reminded me. Some how for the first time in 10 years I had forgotten my the gift I give my heart…. National Novel Writing Month. Sure in the weeks and months before November I had a glimps of remembering but I hadn’t given it a single solid thought before that moment. I had no plot. You see in November thousands of insane people around the country set out to write a 50k novel in a month. I am one of them, or normally am anyway! Suddenly the panic hit, and my plans changed. As we got things done and even stopped to get the kids a quick dinner they could make themselves, the plan was husband and I would find a small cafe and I would spend the rest of the day planning my novel and writing and munching something yummy.

Close to being home the geeky part of our lives interrupted my plans. Fabulous people on the local discord announced a Pokemon raid that was very close to our home. Ok, I told them I would stop there and join in for a minute. It was the second day of a new boss and the social time and meeting new friends was important. Plus, I hadn’t eaten yet that day and the event that would be 5 minutes was at a place I could also indulge in fries. The writers brain needs fuel right?

Husband though insisted we get home real quick and drop off provisions to our minions. Right he was and new friends would wait as they were already waiting for others. I waiting in the van with my laptop and pulled up NaNoWriMo to sign in for the first time this year. It wanted a title to my new novel, the one I had no plot for never mind a single even pathetic character. Stress was raging. Too much to do, and not even a good to do list. Deadlines, so many any just passing me by. My house was still boxes. Did I mention we broke our TV in the move? Did I mention we moved ourselves and the military is 6-8 weeks behind in paying for such DITY moves so replacing the TV isn’t happening soon? Or the sofa… or the washing machine… that though is a rant for another day. This is already getting long and you are wondering how all these different things tie into how homeschooling broke me. I am getting there! Nothing about when a mom loses her wits is ever simple or clear cut, there are always a million threads that break on her.

So none of this is earth shattering. Like the move, just so many little things that just don’t go right. Nothing catastrophic! This night was like that. I shouldn’t have been shocked when my children started to spill out of our new home but I was. Joyful little faces holding cell phones and snacks and hoodies. It was getting dark and cold already. They opened the doors and started getting in.

“What are you doing!” I demanded. And they informed me that their teenage sister had told them I had promised them Pokemon time, and they too remembered it was November and Park Month! You see it is a tradition for us now in November that when husband gets home from work we rush out to find a new park (trying to find a new one each day) for the kids to play on and so I stay in the van and type my Novel. This worked wonderfully because years back this helped me focus. In getting out of my environment away from the to do lists, and back then, away from the internet, I was stuck with just a computer, word software, and quiet in the van alone while my kids played with my amazing husband on the play ground. With happy kids, I could, as a mom, focus on something just for me. Writing time! This is truly indulgent because never have I ever in all these years let anyone read these novels. In fact, they tend to disappear with time as laptops die. It is an effort in creativity, a labor of working through life and being me but also being all these other characters in a life so different from my own. It is a kind of therapy, and it is messy and painful but also glorious, when it is done!

NO NO NO NO I wanted to tell the kids. It was too late. They where happy and had a plan. I had forgotten I had told them that morning that we MIGHT go pokemoning that evening. But at that point I hadn’t yet been reminded it was NaNo time. I thought by then I would have all my homeschool paperwork done and a few book shelves unpacked with homeschool things. But no. Not only did I have none of the paper work done, I still haven’t gotten to those boxes.

My cell phone was buzzing at me. People at the pokemon event waiting on me. *twitch* I hate being an inconvenience to anyone. Deep breath, I message I have troops on tow now, we will be a few more minutes if they would kindly wait, no biggie if not.

At this point I want to give up and go inside and lay in bed with my laptop and find some kind of inspiration for a plot. That isn’t an option though. It is however how too late to get to a park for the kids, so pokemoning it is. Perhaps a few places and then we can drop them off home.

“Mom, you are aggravated.” my teen informs me. “Yes, and I am sorry, I forgot plans and dropped balls and I just want to work on my NaNo. Get in the back please.” I tell her. She argues. “I have stuff to talk to you about though.” She insists. I don’t want to talk I think to myself, I need to think about a plot and we need to hurry up and get to these people waiting on us now. “Just get in the back, talk later.” I insist. “No Mom, you don’t get it, I have a school deadline and I need to tell you what is going on!” and I grumble. I remember a bit about what she is talking about. Another deadline. Crap. “We can talk later, I already promised the middle van seat to your brother, it is his turn.” and so it went with the arguing. My son is near 12 now and growing up and out so to speak. The back of the van is tight for him between one sisters car seat and his other sister. It sucks for whom ever has to sit in that spot these days, but trading off helps with the bickering. We need a new van!

In the end, she got in the back, none too happy about it. Our son in the middle, I could tell he wasn’t happy about the conflict but he thanked me for making sure he got the spot. He doesn’t do conflict well at all. He is sweet and kind and a teddy bear. Alas, as my husband jokingly points out, girls argue, boys whine.

I let everyone in the car know where we are going, not far from the house and whom we are meeting. We are finally on the road. Then my oldest drops the bomb that broke me.

You see she goes to an online private school  these last 4 years, she is still considered homeschooled as she is at home and I am responsible for her education. I still have to file her as a homeschooler even though her online school is accredited. She has trained and licensed teachers even. Having her school this was wise in many ways and lets me focus on the education of our others and worry, less. It was fantastic that first year seeing her get fantastic grades and feeling like I hadn’t messed up her education by homeschooling her the entire time up till then. Finally validation from “real” teachers.

“Mom, I talked to Dad and for my senior project I chose the carpentry project!”

It wasn’t even 3 seconds before I was saying something along the lines of….

  •  WHAT
  •  WHY WOULD YOU PICK THAT?
  • The assignment is suppose to reflect who you are, you have never done anything carpentry before
  • It should have something to do with the career path you want (that you haven’t picked!)

“But we need a shed, I thought I could make that, but maybe it would be too hard so I want to make a TV hutch as the one we have doesn’t fit well” she said.

I was seeing red. I had no filter, I was pissed. All these things where spilling out of my mouth and I couldn’t stop them. I had lost my mind. No peaceful parenting tact in any way shape or form. It was a mess. I was a hot mess.

I said things like:

  • Does no one think anything threw in this family?
  • HOW does that relate to you at all?
  • What a horrible project idea… I mean…. that makes no sense.
  • WHERE THE HELL WILL YOU MAKE THAT THING?
  • We have no garage, no shed, a tiny basement full of boxes, no yard (shared yards here on post)
  • It is getting really effing cold out to be outside building.
  • We gave your Dads wood tools away many moves ago, those are costly to replace. Did no one think of that.

And then husband jumped in to defend the idea and try to calm me down…. that made things worse.

He was saying things like:

  •  It is no big deal
  •  We should support what she picked
  • Getting supplies will not be hard
  • We can make it work
  • It is just a project
  • No big deal
  • We can make anything work.
  • She will get a great grade on it.

He was defending her without trying to make it worse but it all seemed insane to me.

And he was driving around not going to our destination as I was being loud. -sigh- So we were more late. More messages on my phone.

“Don’t wait for us.” I replied and of course they replied “No worries, just come”. -sigh-  So I told husband we need to go.

By this point my son was crying. Out and out sobbing. “I can’t stop.” he muttered. I had heard him when I was ranting about it all but I hadn’t stopped. It had nothing to do with him but I knew he was sensitive. You see we don’t tell to yell or argue fiercely in our family. It was one thing when I was upset with the idea our teen had, it pushed our son over the edge when my husband and I were going back and forth. While my husband was solid in his defense, I was over the top in my upset and insanity of a simple project that could have been so many things that had nothing to do with wood working and actually showed her talents and years of interests.

The geeky group messages had given me a moment to pause. To hear the sadness and concern my son had. I knew my teenager had to be upset. She hadn’t said much in all of that beyond the things my husband also said, about being sure it would work out and it wasn’t a big deal. I had lost my mind in a way none of us had seen before and I couldn’t even explain just then why. Just the absurdity that 12 years of homeschooling came down to a TV hutch for a child that had never made anything out of wood before. It some how broke me. How could this be the project my amazing oldest daughter picked. The girl with so many stories and so much creativity she put into virtual worlds like mini-movies. The girl that was so talented with machines and who could be anything she wanted. Why was I being blindsided with a TV stand and why the heck did it matter so much to me?

We pulled up the event spot, about 9 other people waiting on us. I say all the words… the ones to calm and center my son. He wipes his tears away and says he is ok. I know he isn’t. No sound coming from my teenager in the back. No one wanted to get out of the van, but I insisted. People had waiting, we would get out and join in. I apologies to the other Mom I know who is basically the Queen of the local geeks and whom I already liked. I start to explain but then stop. I was in the wrong and I knew it. I hug my son who was right by my side. Slowly my teenager gets out and so does my 9 year old daughter. My husband doesn’t play unless to help one of the youngers, he stays with the baby. I assume he is pissed at me. I am pissed at the whole situation and myself. I steam quietly.

And so we play this boss with these joyful people out in the dark and in the growing cold. Everyone is nice and the mood besides ours is bright. We win as a group, geeks united, against this virtual beautiful monster, and then we each on our own try to catch it on our little cell phone screens. My son struggles as his phone disconnects often. His cell gets wi-fi through my phone but the signal was weak there. Queen bee offers him her wi-fi but he is shy and also doesn’t like to be a bother so he kindly declines. Our teenager catches the virtual beast first try, first ball. We all congratulate her. Other daughter didn’t actually as it turned out manage to get into the battle. She is ok with that, it happens, she was happy to be out there and included and I am sure not back in the loud and upset van of a few minutes ago. The girls go back to the van as the group talks about where to go next. There was another such monster right near our house when we had left, I tell them, and they all want to go there. So that was the plan, travel as a pack to that location. I would then drop off my kids at home I decided. We needed space and I needed time to pull myself together and talk alone with husband.

Only my son was still having a hard time logging back in. So there we were out in the cold and dark with all others having left, the rest of our family in the van waiting on us. My son wasn’t going to give up, he had patience, so I did too. We hugged and joked and I of course said I was sorry. He said he understands and that his sister and Dad should have checked in with me before now and how their plan didn’t make any sense simply because there is no room. He said though that he didn’t like me yelling (and I wasn’t screaming, but yes, I was yelling.) and how he doesn’t like it when I and Husband get upset with eachother. It happens rarely. I was thinking to myself that my children need more grit. One argument should not cause so much emotion in one of the kids not even involved right? Another ball I am some how dropping I think but I can’t even put my finger on it.

Some how having a peaceful home is causing kids to feel like things are free falling when there is conflict and loud upset. That can’t be good right?

Finally my son gets the program back up and in this game you throw balls in the screen at these pokemon monsters. The ball wiggles and often with these boss monsters, he breaks out. Over and over this happens to my son, the catch rate is actually very small making you go to many of these events around town to find them and try to catch them, and more often than not fail. You only get so many balls to try with each time.

Messages on my phone saying others are there and where are we. I explain the issues and that we will be there soon.

Last ball…. and just as my son slides his finger across his screen, he also somehow tosses the whole cell phone to the ground. It lands face down, in three pieces.

“OH MY GOD” he shouts! And reaches down. I burst out laughing. “You are suppose do toss the ball, not the phone!” It was some how so funny!

He is shocked but not emotional about it. “Wonder if I caught it!” he jokes as he gets the pieces. “I was just thinking that too!” I and laughing. We get in the van and explain and I message others and explain to them too! Everyone is supportive and caring and also finding it funny. Normally it would be tragic but some how, it seemed funny, and even if the phone was broken we would manage. Normally my son would be in tears over the possibility of a broken phone but he wasn’t. It wasn’t broken as it turned out, though sadly he hadn’t caught the beast.

We played the next one, none of us got that one though.

I said I was sorry to all the kids, and we dropped them off at home.

My husband and I headed out to the food district as we call it. The van went from quiet to me loud again. He let me be loud. He still insisted this project was not a big deal. Finally it hit me. It all hit me.

She was growing up and this was the end. This was her final big project. How could it be a TV stand of all things. I sacrificed so much, been so different from my peers, braved and fears and struggled and fought and changed so so much to get her this far. So many people told me I was nuts, a bad mother even, and so so many negative things and homeschooling put space between me and those who didn’t not because I wanted it to but because of their issues with it. It hurt, and I hadn’t let myself really feel any of it till than. I gave up so much, my own formal education, a career out of the home, and all of it would end with a TV stand. No… just no. So many cuss words NO.

So it was about me.

So it was…. about me.

That isn’t right. Something about that isn’t right. I matter bit… this is her project.

But there was something there too. This just wasn’t thought out. Nothing about it was her. She was hitting a deadline too and trying to fill a family need she saw. But…. it wasn’t her. She knew it, husband knew it. But to them it was just a project, a grade she would get, and a family need met.

No. Just. No.

She is this amazing and magical and kind and witty person and that couldn’t just come down to a meaningless TV stand. I wasn’t just fighting this for me, but her too and I was fierce. Husband understood myself then.

I went from pissed to falling apart into different pieces. I couldn’t eat. I couldn’t write. So after all that driving around we went home. I hugged and was sorry and cried all over my oldest daughter and I tried to explain it all. Our kids gathered around, and they joined the hug too as I sobbed in a way I hadn’t since my Dad died. He was in those tears too. I was wishing so much I could call him and talk to him about all this. I had held him and hugged him that long just like I was my daughter just days before he died. When he and I both were holding on to one another and all we were losing. I fell apart and all those arms held me together and I relived all the hardships of homeschooling and loss. My teenager wasn’t upset, some how on her own she got that my upset wasn’t about her before. She just wanted me to be ok, all the kids did. They do what they are great at, making us all laugh. Husband was right there too, making things better in his strong way, trying to hold me together and explaining that while at that time I could just cry, that I was really ok and sometimes Moms just get overwhelmed. I muttered words. All the feels. It was something like this.

  •  You are so much more amazing than a TV stand.
  • How have you gotten so big
  • I am 1000 times sorry for making this about me but no, I was not going to support a bloody TV stand.
  • You are so creative
  • You know so much about how things work!
  • So sorry
  • Pepere would be so proud of her
  • Everyone is so proud of her
  • She can do better
  • You are one of my favorite people
  • how do you put up with me
  • I am sorry being the first test kid is hard
  • I just want this to be as special as she is
  • I shouldn’t be hard on her, my Dad would tell me that as he used to.
  • My Dad would know just how to help, he was like her, great with tools and projects like that.
  • Of course what ever she does will be good enough
  • Just want something as special as she is
  • She is so clever, it needs to be clever.
  • How did we get so lucky with such an amazing girl?
  • It needs to be beautiful and timeless too.
  • I am scared you are grown and are leaving soon. (and there is was. Loss.)
  • 13 years really wrapped into one project. This is a big deal.
  • I care more about you than a project though. Always.

And so much more. I had come undone. Only thing that mattered was that she knew I loved her.

We all hugged and ended up laughing and it was ok. I would have to be ok. It is 48 hours later and still haven’t managed to unpack all the emotions around this, or the homeschool boxes either. I still haven’t really started my NaNo, and deadlines are still not being met. BUT we are family and are managing. Eventually we will find our new normal and the house will be unpacked! Just so little space for so many things…. so little time with the ones we love. We did manage to get to a new park yesterday and while I didn’t get much writing in, I did manage to come up with plot! Honestly I want to give up already on this NaNoWriMo but my family insists I do it. I think the younger kids just want the park time though. LOL Play is after all the highest form of learning. We learn so much every November, it is always chaos though!

As for the project, it is changing. That isn’t though the point of this post. The point is, it was messy. This homeschool Mom hit a breaking point, was overwhelmed, and fell apart. The point is, events like this happen in other homeschool families too, whether it is doubt about their child learning, or parents fighting over how to education their children. It can be messy. I am not perfect, no one is. So here it is, raw, a horrible moment for the world to see. A peaceful parenting fail for sure. If it hadn’t been for my husband and his strength and patience I might still be pissed and a mess and it might had been a huge fight. If it hadn’t been for my daughters patience with me, had she screamed back, oh wow could that have gone so much worse. She didn’t though. Husband said he thinks it was because everyone was rather shocked at my reaction. I think it is because we try to hard to defuse situations and 2 out of the three people remembered that in that moment. What ever the case was, we managed. We will manage. If your homeschooling life isn’t pinterest perfect please be kind to yourself. Life is struggle, always struggle, and silly us for thinking it will some how at some point not be. It will always be something going on. Enjoy though when parts of your life are actually smooth, they never seem to stay that way do they? Enjoy them anyway.

 

I have so much more to learn. What a mess!

 

 

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