So the hubby asked if he should take this blog off his to-read list and I said, "No. Not yet. There's still a lot of stuff bubbling around inside my head and who knows when I will decide I need a spot to put it. Yet, I recognize that my track record has been so poor, of late, that I've pretty much lost what readership I may have once had.
I've been thinking that perhaps it's time to turn the talk here back to unschooling... or raising kids and family life and personal reflections, like back in the olden days.
I started this blog in 2005, primarily as a writing blog, but quickly realized I had more I wanted to talk about so I broadened my scope. Even during my quiet periods, I've been reluctant to give up blogging all together. I think partly because so often I have regretted that I took down my original blog (called an online journal back then) from the late 1990s. Then partly, as well, because I grow frustrated with the lack of control regarding format and storage of information on Facebook. Now that I've most definitely moved my writing thoughts elsewhere, I am left mulling over where "Inside My Head" belongs in the grand scheme of things.
Rather than mull silently, I might as well share.
Here, I let my mind wander...
My children are now ages 17 (I just had to ask her to confirm that), 14, and 12. These sound like awfully big numbers to me. This means that it was 12 years ago that I did not put my first child on the big yellow school bus. I remember thinking, at that time, that I was fairly certain I was doing the right thing. Three or four years earlier I had reluctantly agreed to give homeschooling a try when it was time to send her off to kindergarten. She was about 3 when I discovered the term unschooling. I was following my gut, but also reading voraciously and engaging with total strangers in some of the most powerful, thought provoking and eye opening conversations I have been a part of my entire life.
I wrote a lot about my life with children when the kids were little. In many ways, I was documenting the details I've always been fearful would escape me. It was really no more than a continuation of habit I've pretty much had for as long as I've been able to hold a pencil, the narration of my own life. But as well, I was making a record for myself, proof that unschooling worked, perhaps, or evidence I could turn to when I came up against doubts.
Then at some point I stopped writing... or stopped sharing it, for better or worse. Overcome with shyness, perhaps, as I was introducing myself to my new community. A struggle with a bit of depression, more accurately, as I succumbed to physical roadblocks and faced the reality of my mortality. But the learning never stopped and the belief in my children and in what they were capable of never stopped growing.
In the years since I became a mother I have spent tremendous energy exploring and connecting the dots in my world, and along the way these three children of mine have become my greatest allies, my co-conspirators on this journey we call life. No longer was I testing a method of educating them, we were simply living and learning and making mistakes and celebrating successes. We were learning from each other and learning apart, and at some point I must have realized I was no longer worried about screwing things up and wishing I had done it differently. I did it exactly right, even in all the times I ended up doing it wrong. I freed myself from the bonds of traditional thinking and action, initially with regard to educating children, and it grew to be so much more than that.
Sometimes I feel as if I am still in the act of falling into something special, enabling and powerful. Most often, I feel how this way of living has become habit. It's simply the way I look at things. It's the assumptions I make about the nature of people, young and old, and how open I have come to the belief that anything is possible. When I forget this, my children are pretty good at reminding me, often through a simple act or comment that they wouldn't even note as important.
A friend recently asked me what my daughter was going to do once she graduates. I simply shrugged and said I honestly have no idea, and I know enough by now to know that it's okay. How to explain that "graduation" is a concept that really doesn't even fit our plans? Yet she is designing her graduation announcement with her own blend of wit and sarcasm thrown in, and we've spent some time brainstorming her "I'm headed out into the world" party... or not... for lack of a better term for it. She is defining her future right now and has been, and I expect she will be for many years to come. I've never been in a hurry for her to grow up and leave the nest, and I don't really expect her to slip into traditional roles that children play when she's been free of them all her life. We talk a lot about what is happening to her age-mates in public schools. We've adopted terminology over the years to help answer questions that are inevitably sometimes asked. Sometimes we use it, and sometimes we are content to shrug and simply say it doesn't apply.
I don't know that I understand any more about raising (or certainly educating) children today than I did 17 years ago when I was only just beginning. I do know that trust in yourself and trust in them is the biggest part of the puzzle. I also know that whatever you figure out with kid #1, is likely to befuddle you again when the second kid comes along. I know I am going to continue to make mistakes and so are they. I know we will learn from most of them, and some we will simply try to put behind us. I know the success and joy we experience are going to far outweigh any stumbles.
Sometimes I am still baffled that not every family chooses to live this way. Sometimes I meet someone who seems to tackle it all -- the job, the parenting, the schoolhouse, the world -- in such an impressive way that I wonder, for a moment, if I and my family might have been one of them. My children don't share these doubts. I have asked, and they have answered. Yet I ask again, and they assure me if they change their minds and want to try something more traditional, they will certainly speak up and let me know. Of that, I have no doubts. My children have learned nothing if not to speak their minds.
I am thinking I am going to spend a little time writing here about my children again. If you have any questions about unschooling, I am happy to try to answer. I can share our experiences, at the very least.