I haven’t seen one of these for a while, but it popped up on social media the other day. You know the kind of thing – parenting is HARD. Kids are HARD. I hate my life and that is ok. Anyone who suggests their family life is otherwise is a big fat liar. Grin and bear it. It will end.
These posts used to make me feel sad. I don’t feel that anymore. Everyone is living their own reality. I just accept that that isn’t mine. Sure, I have frustrating moments. Bad days. Rough weeks. I need time to nourish myself and my adult relationships. But spending time with my children for me is a choice I have made and one that I enjoy. It isn’t time I wish away. I enjoy doing things with them. I like sharing experiences with them. They are great people.
I have received a couple of emails in the last week asking for more of these posts so here we go. Another insight into our daily life.
Phew, things got off to a slow start today. I seem to be in high demand during the night at the moment, which is exhausting. We go through phases like this from time to time and as quickly as they start, they seem to end on their own. I try not to worry about it or over-analyse it and just go with the flow. Still, I am TIRED.
The kids all woke at a similar time and watched some tv while I organised everyone’s breakfast and had my coffee. My seven year old got bored quickly and wanted to go outside with his breakfast. My daughter followed. On the way outside we noticed that our last butterfly had emerged from its chrysalis which was very exciting. We moved it outside so that it could fly away when it was ready. We played and chatted for an hour or so. We played a lot of tag which they both love. My eight year old wasn’t ready to come outside and decided to finish his book instead.
What if it doesn’t work?
This question makes me uncomfortable. Probably not for the reasons you think. I’m not, in any way, uneasy about the future for my children. I guess I feel that there is a lot tied up in these words. What does ‘work’ mean in this instance? Turn out like you hoped? Learn everything you think is important? Be successful based on your definition of success? It is a big red flag for me. It’s all you, you, you. It tells me that we are looking at children from different perspectives.
Our journey into unschooling developed quite organically. It was never the intended destination and as we marched towards it, I didn’t even recognise where we were headed. Once we found ourselves here, there were times where fear set in. Will my children be ok? Is this enough? Am I letting them ‘fall behind’? Here I was, viewing my children as my greatest responsibility, and my heart was telling me to nurture them in a way that some view as irresponsible. Not sending them to school?! Not following a curriculum?! It was a contradiction I struggled with. What if I was wrong?
Letting go of this fear has been a process for me. And even though my concerns around natural learning are in the rear-view mirror, my children continue to show me not to be afraid.
‘Your kids have so much energy!’ she said. ‘My kids need breaks all the time, but yours just keep going.’
My beautiful friend this past weekend was watching as my kids played and played. Endless energy and enthusiasm for anything and everything.
It made me smile. She was right. They were having so much fun and they hadn’t stopped since the sun peeked through the clouds and probably wouldn’t stop until it dipped below the horizon. But I know my children and they also need that balance. Her comment saw me lost in thought for a while. Why did it look different? There was no grasping for moments of rest. And there often isn’t. Until there is.
It’s the natural rhythm. The equilibrium of high and low energy that every child can find when given space. The words have never been said out loud, but our children know that the option for rest is always there. They live in the moment. When their friends are there, they play for hours and hours and hours which my friend was observing. It is true of learning, too. When their mind is consumed by a new interest, there isn’t room for anything else. They are obsessive. They focus. They take it all in. They question. They read. They discover. The burst of energy could last minutes or hours or days. And when that opportunity or desire passes they take the time they need to recover. They stop. They rest. Just like the upper, this downer, the recovery, could last minutes or hours or days.
I was at the mall. As I wandered through the food court looking for somewhere to sit, I saw a man and a woman at a table next to me. I’m not sure what happened in the lead up to this moment, but he leaned in and sneered, ‘you are so ungrateful.’ The woman looked embarrassed and upset. He snatched the drink out of her hand and took a sip. She was on the verge of tears. ‘Don’t cry. That’s it we’re leaving.’ He quickly grabbed their things, grabbed her arm and dragged her toward the exit. She was asking him to stop and looked distressed. It was awful to watch.
What would your reaction have been?
We have been having a lot of conversations about sex around here lately. Lots of questions. Lots of time for contemplation. Then lots of questions again. Kind of like any topic really.
I know a lot of people didn’t grow up in sex positive households. Because of this, I know a lot of parents view sex as a very private thing that is uncomfortable to talk about. I always felt free to talk to my parents about sex, but I know my husband jokes that ‘the talk’ with his parents was the anonymous placement of ‘Where Did I Come From’ on the end of his bed when he was…fifteen.
We haven’t really had ‘the talk’ either. That would be kind of strange. It implies it is a one off chat. And then what? You never speak of it again? Sex is a conversation constantly evolving, pausing mid sentence while information is taken in, picked up again days or weeks or months later. We have answered a lot of questions over the years about lots of things to do with the body and that has come together to form a more coherent picture over time.
How this develops for each family is going to be different so rather than retelling our story, which could never be a blueprint for anyone else, I want to focus on some of the key messages and elements I think are really important. Continue reading