Thursday, October 20, 2011

Jumping ship from a conventional life

I'm drowning in an ocean of my own making

Four years ago we made the decision to homeschool our children.  At the time, family members thought that it would be just for the oldest child, and that it would be temporary.  I knew it would be for all of our children, and for the duration of their school years.  I envisioned days of exploration, reading, impromptu science experiments, art supplies, field trips, vacations in the fall and occasionally sleeping in.

And we do these things.  Occasionally.  We cram them in around all of the other stuff called life.  Despite the fact that my heart tells me that it should be the other way around - that life should make way for our education.  Instead of doing what my heart desires, my life has been hijacked by responsibilities, meetings, and commitments I should have never made to begin with.

Two weeks ago I had a major freak out.  I wanted to quit.  No homeschool group.  No Girl Scouts.  I was not enjoying myself - why should I continue to do these things when they were beginning to feel so toxic to me??  I just wanted to retreat from everything, circle my children around me and lock the front door, turn off the phone, and - most importantly - never, ever check my email again, for it is always filled with "discussions", nasty-tempered messages and flaky, sorry-to-cancel-at-the-last-minute crap.

I love my homeschool group.  It has opened our minds to the world of homeschooling and brought many important, wonderful friends into my life.  But we have grown by massive proportions in the past three years, and the integrity of the group has disintegrated and we are on the verge of imploding.  And I am sad.  Very, very sad.  We are comprised of 130 families that don't give a rat's ass about the planning, organizing and mission of the group, and the 15 or so families that do.  I see a split hurtling fast and furious towards us... and I don't want to be in the crossfire. 

These two issues suck so much of my energy that there is not much left to give in the way of homeschooling - the whole point of all of this anyway!  I got involved because that seemed like the logical thing to do - if you join a group you should be an active part of it, yet I feel so frustrated with the greater membership that I can't even call this a 'group' anymore. 

All this to say that I am lonely.  It has been one endless race to get through the logistics, emails and record-keeping of each day, and yet having any kind of meaningful moments in time are hard to come by.  Last week was so damned difficult I just sat down and cried alone for a few minutes here and there, when I could steal the time.  On Wed, Thurs and Fri I spent all of 10 minutes in my house each day - and I am not kidding.  There was no break in the action.  Yesterday was the first day that I could have a few moments to breathe.  I went to Park Day and one other mom with her three boys was there - we arrived at the same time and stayed for a couple of hours.  It was the best conversation I've had in a long, long time - (thank you Kari!!).  For once, I didn't mind that none of the other 140 member families in our group didn't bother to show up - it meant that we could talk uninterrupted.

When you leave a conventional life behind, you have to guard yourself against alienating yourself completely.  Only those who live the homeschooling life truly understand you and your worries, triumphs and frustrations.  The friendships I have made over the last four years are my lifeline against depression, loneliness and feeling overwhelmed with the awesome personal responsibility that homeschooling is.  My self-perpetuated 'busyness' leaves little time for socializing, and the other moms are so busy too that I am sure they feel the same way from time to time.  I have found that the only way to make it work at this point is to schedule time with friends.  A few weeks back I went for an afternoon walk with a friend, whom I hadn't had time to really 'talk' with in almost a year - and it was so nice to catch up!  Sometimes you have to be unconventional to preserve your sanity.  But once-a-month grown-up time isn't going to cut it either...

1 comment:

Shawn Walter said...

Hugs, Kirsten. I feel your pain. I want to cry and rant and throw things I am so angry with our group. I want to tell everyone EXACTLY what I think.

I want to plan a day with just those families I know will come. I want to connect in a real way. I want to see people on a regular basis who *I* want to see. I want to get the hell out of NCHA.

I'm sorry you feel this way. I'm glad you got to connect yesterday at park day and on a walk. I'm sorry that people have been making park day a chore for you rather than a pleasure. I never made it a priority in our lives and so I'm probably to blame as well. My kids love parks so I should have made it a priority, whether others showed or not :(