Monday, January 13, 2014

Homeschooling Is Like Having An Infant

Really. It's like having a four week old needy, crying, pooing, peeing, eating, sleeping, cooing, smiling, chubby rolls, sweet baby feet and that precious new born smell baby.

When we were thinking about doing this whole home school gig I talked to over a dozen people who home school. I asked questions about expectations, work load, schedules, doubts, achievements. I asked about 'me time,' grocery shopping, chores, play dates and date nights. During all of that, I never once asked about the feeling of home school. What would my emotional state be like at the end of the day?  I never thought about it. I mean, I knew it would be emotional in the sense that we would struggle with the suddenness of being together all the time and feel frustrated, even angry, but I never thought about emotion outside of that.

Then one day, as I stood in the middle of the school room looking around at the chaos, I realized that it all looked vaguely familiar.  Clothes were strewn around the house, glasses of water sat on random surfaces, crusts and peels of lunch were scattered on the island. Dinner had been planned but was sitting in the freezer. I'd rubbed my eye-make off at some point, lost a slipper, was carrying a clean bath towel to fold in one hand and a cold cup of coffee in the other. It was five o'clock. Sarah walked in the room and without turning around I said, "You must go away. Must. You can't talk to me. For the love of all that is holy, do not touch me. When will your father be home? Is it bedtime?" She eyeballed me and left. It was at that moment that I realized: Home schooling is like having an infant.

Remember when your kids were infants? Your day went something like this: Get up. Nurse baby, shove food/coffee in your mouth. Change a diaper. Smile at sweetness. Nurse. Change a diaper. Rock crying baby. Remember laundry. Nurse baby. Change a diaper. Actually change laundry. Rock a crying baby. Put baby down for nap. Get dressed and remember laundry. Perhaps pull out food for dinner. Locate cold coffee. Get wet and hungry baby up from 'nap.' Change and nurse baby. Coo and smile over baby rolls and sweet cheeks. Nuzzle incredible baby smell. Ah. Change diaper and bathe baby. Nurse baby. Locate still cold coffee and shove food in mouth. Wander the house looking for shoe/pants/shirt/purse because you'd like to leave the house. Baby cries. Laugh at self. Husband gets home and you are wrecked. You hand off baby and run for cover. Crawl into bed. Husband reaches over for a cuddle. You punch and glare at him because DO NOT TOUCH ME. You are touched out. You can feel baby sleeping from the down the hall. You can hear the laundry rotting in the washer and wrinkling in the dryer. The dust bunnies are playing tag in the hall and mice are dining on the kitchen floor. You lie awake and listen to your house while planning what you will get done tomorrow.

Now substitute in: Feeding children. Allowing bathroom breaks. Refusing TV. Reminding children about chores. Violet helping John with his spelling without being asked. Forgetting your own chores. Snack time. Spilled paint. Not being able to find a city in Russia and getting lost in Google Maps Street View. Snack time. Laundry! Dinner - grilled cheese it is! Losing a broom. Repairing a vacuum, Snack time. Spontaneous science. Markers on the counter that aren't washable. Giggles and tag inside.  Husband home. Glares at children because after 12 hours together they still want to touch you and talk to you. They still want to look at you, and STOP looking at me. I can feel your eyes on me. Into bed and listen to the house. And plan all the things you will get done tomorrow.

Deep breath.

And still.

For many of us we do all this - the infant part and the home school part - and then willingly chose to do it all over again. Because in the end it's worth it.  It's worth all the lost sleep, the crazy house, the lost items. It's worth it because of the random smiles, the laughs, coos and sweetness. It's worth it because in the end we know that it's going to be incredible. And that is what keeps us going, me going, when I'm looking at a towel in one hand that I have no memory of picking up, my coffee is ice cold and I can't remember why I'm in that particular room, I can take a deep breath, (attempt) to relax and hold tight to knowledge that it is worth it.