Letting Go

On Manchild’s first day of school there would be a delicious homemade lunch with a note tucked inside. We’d take pictures in front of the apartment with him in his new, too big clothes and his crisp, clean backpack. I’d make cookies that we’d eat with cups of cold milk once we got home, and he’d tell me all about his first day of school: the games he played, what he liked about his teacher, who he sat by, what and who he played with at recess. I’d been planning it for years.

I looked forward to seeing how excited the boys would be to see each other after a long day apart, and to having a few hours a week with just Little Miss to look out for. I was excited to chaperone field trips, or help with art projects, or one-on-one testing, or fund-raisers. I wanted to be there at pick-up, to get to know the other moms as we waited for our kids to emerge from the hallways of public education.

So it’s no surprise that I cried more than a few tears the day we found out public schooling was no longer an option for Manchild this year. Part of it was being sad for him, knowing that he’s wanted to go to school for so long. Part of it was simply being overwhelmed by the thought of homeschooling him. (Part of it, to be honest, was that I finished Team of Rivals the same day and, SPOILER ALERT! Lincoln dies at the end. It was too much. I couldn’t take it.)

But there were other reasons for the tears as well. More selfish reasons. School was going to give me some time to write and promote my writing during the day, to look for opportunities and to work on longer pieces. It was going to be the way I could train for the Boston marathon come January: with Manchild in school, I could take Squish and Little Miss for a run during the day, when it would be as warm as it was going to get. School was going to save my sanity by getting one of my kids out of my hair, structure my days with its set scheduled drop-off and pick-up times, expand my pool of friends by throwing me in with other moms who take great interest in their child’s education.

And instead, we’re still here. Waking up at 8:30, stumbling through breakfast, hoping to get an errand or two done before lunch.¬†Another year of late night blog posts, followed by too little sleep, followed by an early morning run in the coldest part of the day. And then I hand my life over to my children again, for breakfast, lunch, dinner. Naptime, bedtime. Reading, writing, ‘rithmatic. Science experiments and history lessons.

Still, I can deal with the scheduling issues. I can handle my kids all day every day. I can wake up early to run, or pester friends to watch my kids while I get in a lap or two around the park. I know that those are just the day-to-day life things that need to be done and so I will do them, however I can.

It’s the things that are left undone that I’m having a hard time with. It would be a lot easier for me to embrace homeschooling fully, whole-heartedly, maybe even for the long run, if I didn’t have those images in my mind: the ones of Manchild drinking from the public school fountain (literally and figuratively), or playing soccer at recess, or with his nose in a book as he walks down the halls. I can’t help but feel as though he’s missing out on something. And that I’m missing out on something too. (Something more than having him out of the house most of the day.)

I’m trying to let go of those images and that excitement. I’m trying to put in perspective that he will likely learn (and love learning) a lot more at home, where he can go at his own pace and study whatever interests him. I’m trying to remember that it could be pretty awesome to not have to work around school schedules when planning vacations. And I’m trying not to wonder if he’ll ever feel like he missed out on something special by having never attended kindergarten.

It’s one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do.

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5 Comments

  1. lizzie

    November 5th, 2012 at 11:39 pm

    Bad schools in our area, and too many kids scoring really well on the gifted and talented test. I haven’t gone into too many details just because I don’t want to have to explain the NYC school system with its lotteries and magnet schools and charter schools and G&T programs (district and citywide) and dual language programs and placement exception requests and attrition rates and sibling preference and all of the things that have gone into getting us where we are now. Suffice it to say, we did the best we could with what we had and we came up short . . . or maybe we took the long way to the best solution, assuming homeschool is the best solution.

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  2. I so hear you, it was one of the hardest (and scariest) things I ever did. Didn’t take the same route to it … pulled my oldest out of 2nd grade for several deafening reasons, but it’s so incredibly rough to give up that time, or that planned-for time, so hard. I hope the rewards pile up in some tangible way for you, and that it works out perfectly in the end, classroom or not. I’ve grown to love it and can’t imagine life any other way, but it’s not for everyone either. I never ever imagined myself homeschooling, not one of those opposed to it from the get-go. Just didn’t work for us. The me time … I’ve had to let a lot of it go, and get creative (and fanatical at times) about getting it when I really need it. There is a big community of homeschoolers in bklyn, if you want to find others and need any list-servs pointed out, just holler. There are lots :). Some reluctant, some fanatical, and almost all with me-time issues :).

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  3. I hope you can have all those “firsts” next year! Good luck!

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  4. It is so hard to have to change the plans you have had in your mind. I love how you wrote this. Good luck with everything!

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  5. Good grief. I love how you wrote this. And I am so sorry for the anxiety and stress that’s been the result of all of this. What’s been said is so true, you’ll still get to experience all that you’ve planned for and looked forward to and you get to be his teacher this year. Lucky Simon. No doubt you’ll both look back on this tough time with fond memories. And amazing to me that you seem to be able to do it all even with three kids at home.

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