Over the last few days, Max and I have started to vocalise some of the feelings we currently have about being a home educating family from the perspective of where we find ourselves now. The conversations are hard, if I’m honest.
I don’t think there is any doubt that right now, as a commitment, home educating a set of 4 daughters is not what I need to be doing. I’m emotionally worn out from being at home full time for 12 years with absolutely all the responsibility for everything that the girls learn weighing down on me. I’m emotionally worn out from losing Freddie and actually, I’m also physically worn out from that – the lack of respite from grief is overwhelming at times, the pressure of a body which still feels a very physical effect of not having my child in my arms, the feelings associated with trying, and failing, to conceive again – and knowing the if I do, I have to cope with a pregnancy, with the myriad of potential losses and then, even if all goes well, bringing up another small child.
Or I have to deal with deciding not to do that – or simply accepting it if it never happens. All of those things require emotional and actual energy and space – and I don’t have that. Not one minute of one day to call just my own. No time where I know, absolutely know, I can cry, sob, scream, think. Any decision I make, we make, or any ttc success or failure, has implications for everyone else.
I need someone to take them away for 6 months. And I need that to happen with the sure and certain knowledge that they would not suffer, or need me, or wish for me, in that time. And they’d need to be safe – and I’d need to be inoculated from fear that they are not safe. The repercussions of Freddie’s death are al too evident in us all – even Max jumps up extra fast now at the sound of an unexpected noise from someone slipping in the bath, or falling out of bed.
So none of that can happen. Regardless of my needs, there are simply too many other people in the house. It might be true that I need to be whole and fixed (and how long has that record played now?) for the house to go on okay – but the truth is that nothing can stand still while that happens. Sometimes my chest feels as though it will burst inwards through the sheer weight of needs in this house.
That’s all before you consider that frankly Max and I could both work full time on the business and it would still be years before we achieved all it could achieve.
The obvious conclusion, we are daring to say, is that maybe the girls should go to school. I’d get some time for me, I could go to work, the pressure to ensure everyone succeeds would be off me (to some, probably fairly small) extent and perhaps, just perhaps, they’d all like it.
Mooted recently, Fran said “you can’t make me go” and I fear, regardless of her age or my parental rights, she’s right. What would be the point in forcing her now? I could force the younger two, they (if I’m honest) probably would like it but Maddy wouldn’t (I’m sure of that, though she’d give it a go if I pushed it) and Fran doesn’t want to. She sees her way clear now and her plans don’t include school. There are absolutely no schools in the area that would suit either of the big two now and even if I totally selfishly sent them all in a world where the schools were ideal, it is a step too far to send them somewhere mediocre. Fran’s potential secondary, where she had a place, is on special measures (again!) and I can’t bring myself to do it, I just can’t.
Clearly there is no point sending 2 of them and not the other 2. We’ve tried that before and it is just the worst of all worlds. And really, if I sent them now, I’d be doing it for childcare and I’m too far down this path now to think that I can live with that.
The somewhat startling fact is that I’m no longer a person who home educates her children – we simply are a family and this is what we do. Our children have equal say in their lives and much of the lifestyle that HE brings is actually so fundamentally part of us that I don’t know how to change it. How would we live if we saw less of each other? What would I do if school suited some and not others? How would we manage with our time structured for us? What would we do with homework, less choice, less time together, less flexibility, less opportunity for whole family experience? Who would we, me, them, Max or any of us, be if we unstitched our reason to see the friends we have, go the places we go, do the things we do? How would it feel to come this far with Fran and Maddy – and then fall at the later hurdles and not see it through?
I’m burnt out. I’m burnt out and bored of being the home educator I have been these last few years. We need change, we need renewed energy, we need to see and explore differently. We need more time together, just us, doing more innovative things. I feel trapped, just now; trapped into carrying on home educating because it is right and proper and better for everyone. It isn’t feeling right for me though and I need to make some changes, engage more, strive more, try harder, break out of some ruts and find some excitement. I need to get back to the place I once was because I am feeling utterly shattered at the thought of 10 more years of what feels little more than adequate mediocrity.
Feel free to chip in with ideas.