I’ve thought of myself as a home educator for years, even recently when the kids were in and out of school, though “home educator at heart” is, probably quite rightly, sniffed at by pure home educators. But it was how I felt, my life has been kid centric, both family and educational provision, for 18 years. 18 years is a long time to be at home bringing up small people, particularly if you pack in some of the loops and bends that we’ve rollercoastered through over the last 18 years, never mind the whole running a business alongside home educating and the late restarting of our family.
I’ve tried not to be, but I’m burned out. I home educated Josie this year because she needed it and because what was best for her was a quiet year of regrouping and refinding her feet. She’s very self motivated, studious, young in her mind and a hard worker and I enjoyed her company and she enjoyed not doing SATs. But really I knew that I was done; I will always think home educating is the most brilliant option and that school, for me, is something to be wary of at best, but I’m not sure I can home educate anymore, not unless critical need reappears. My passion for the concept isn’t any less, but my ability to be everything to everyone and recover that enthusiasm again is all gone. I just can’t do another dinosaur project or another learning to do column addition. I’m worn out.
This Autumn, with Fran having turned 18 and started her gap year, Maddy moves to a new 6th form that ticks the boxes needed for all her passions, Amelie starts GCSE and Josie returns to Year 7. Of all of them, I have the most regrets about her; both of us know she may or may not thrive and may have to leave again and I am sad that the girl who would have been the easiest and most satisfying to home educate has ended up with the least of that life, and the least of my energy. In all honesty, I’ve been sad and grief altered for almost all of her life; she doesn’t know the person I was once at all.
And then there is Bene, the baby I wanted to have so much. I’ve loved being at home with him and I’m sad that economics meant he always went to nursery for some of the week but I think we might have had the nicest time on the days he wasn’t that we ever could have. I’m a dabbler, I think, and not cut out for endless of the same. Having Freddie changed me too much, I would never have coped with toddler groups and Musical Singalong Club and not ideally suited to being home at week either. So he’s off to school, a gorgeous little one that I couldn’t like more, and going part time to start with so we both get used to it.
This sudden sense of shaking off the old is beguiling; with the finale of my home educator performance opens up doors that have been wafting tantalisingly in front of me for some time. Last year was tough; kids in 4 different establishments needing lifts and collecting and shuttling and parent evening and medical appointment time, a business that needed more time than I could give it, a marriage which badly needed some time for conversation and enjoyment, husband returning to employment and a volunteer job I loved but which was sucking up so much of my time, the tail end of a social media business/lifestyle and a desperate and unquenched desire to make time to write and be creative sidelined by 4 courses I needed to do and enjoyed but left me wrung out.
With the kids going to school, a window has opened on time for me and even better, a precious year with daughter number 1 and I able to do things together. There will be almost no school run this year, my business has new staff who can run it almost without my input and my volunteer job has become a paid one, albeit a job/vocation which seems to have more naturally occurring unpaid hours than anything but teaching 😆 I’m optimistic that the tiny spaces of time I’ve found this summer to make things might even make it into big spaces; up till Christmas I’ll settle for getting back to crafting and a bit of light decorating but after Xmas I’m committed to getting back to that half written book. 42 is too old not to have addressed that burning desire I have to prove I can write fiction.
Coaching. Who would have thought that a chance terrible event in a gym club would turn out to set me on a path of finally having a job I love at the age of 42? Gymnastics has been the one sport I loved since I was a little girl (although only to watch after the gymnastics club teacher at my school laughed at me and sent me away *angry face*) I’ve loved my girls doing it and always watched avidly, trying to understand and be part of what made them love it. I’m now a qualified judge and last year I took my Level 1 General Gymnastics course.
But the crowning glory was this.
I have never had to work so hard for anything in my whole life; I had to learn every move to look at from scratch, learn to support kids flying at me in the air when they frankly scared the bejeezus out of me (and I got the bruises to prove it), get quicker, more alert, learn how to describe something to a kid, how to correct, change, prepare a move, work in a team of coaches, plan, evaluate. It was a monumental challenge and I don’t think anyone thought I would do it.
But I did.
And it is that which has finally brought about the change in me; everything that I loved about home educating now resides in coaching and along with that has come the huge relief at no longer needing to sell toys forever or prostitute my blog in a way that ruined blogging for me. I have a new path and I love it. I have 24 or so little girls to encourage and care for and a passion for getting girls who, like me, would once have been laughed out of a gym club, to aspire and achieve. I won’t let what happened to me ever happen, though thankfully gymnastics has changed that within itself anyway.
Yesterday I went through my twitter account and trimmed out people I don’t know, brands I felt I had to follow, people in a phase of life that no longer resonates with me. I turned off retweets everywhere. I’ve gone beyond a point where I want, or am prepared, to collect numbers. I want to collect people and meaning. These last few years have been filled with amazing people – parents, coaches, bloggers, friends, children but I’ve struggled to see anything in the noise. This week the autoresponder will go on to the blog email and it will stop being a place I try to make money. The business will gradually be handed over to the person I can trust to run it better than I can and I’ll start going about life as a parent, just doing the parent bits, a coach and someone who would actually like to focus on herself for a change, and not in the exhausted, blurred out self defence way the last years have felt like.
It’s the most zen I’ve felt in years. I’ll be doing yoga next.