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.