But I feel the most guilty that I can’t imagine how people homeschool, and that I think I’m turning into the mother who can’t stand being around her kids. The mother who is relived the kids are going back to school after one day off. The one who cringes at the thought of the kids being home for one whole week during summer break in between camp. I don’t want to turn into that mother!
The worst is that I don’t just want to send them to a daycare because I can’t handle things. I feel like a child should be at home until the age of 3. Though at this point I’m seriously considering sending my daughter somewhere for half a day.
I just don’t know how you did it! How did you possibly homeschool while your family was growing? It feels so impossible and daunting. As much as I love the idea of homeschooling, I really don’t think it’s for me. But I do want to do the best thing for my children now and being a miserable mom isn’t helping. Do you have any piece of advice for me?<<
The very first thing I’m going to say is, don’t compete and compare. When I’m feeling under the weather, thinking about everyone who is more competent than me just depresses me!
Realize that everyone has challenges, and just because you think someone is doing so much better than you, it may or may not be accurate. Fifteen years ago, I had three young children (ages newborn, 20 months, 37 months). At that time, my days were non-stop work and I didn’t feel especially relaxed at any point until my children were asleep. I would go out with them and think to myself how everyone I passed was clearly managing so much better than I was, because everyone looked so happy and content. And then I suddenly realized, if someone looked at me, they’d be thinking the same thing!
Sometimes in our minds we set people up to be much more perfect and saintly than they can every possibly be in real life. It helps to remember that everyone has their struggles, and everyone has their tough times. If we didn’t, there would be no purpose in us being here in this world, since our souls were put here to grow from our challenges.
You can only do the best you can with the tools you have right now. Some people have more physical or emotional resources than others, and sometimes you yourself will have more or less ability to accomplish what you want than you do right now. Live the stage of life that is in front of you, doing the best you can. All you can do is take the next right step. Sometimes we look too far in advance, and it doesn’t help us. While I think it’s important to look to the foreseeable future to think about what you’ll encounter so that you can be more prepared when you get there, that’s only advisable if you can actually do something today that will make tomorrow better.
Trust that tomorrow will come, that better and easier days and stages will come. In some ways it’s easier for me now with nine children than it was with three very young children. At that point, I couldn’t imagine coping with a bigger family (I dreaded the thought of more children, to be quite honest), since I had my hands full taking care of the family I had!
When you’re pregnant, realize that it’s not really a good time to assess your abilities. During the first trimester of this pregnancy, I had to consciously remind myself that I’m a competent person who was legitimately very low energy right then. Without that, my negative mental recording would start playing over and over, focusing on all that I wasn’t doing in the way I felt I should be able to do it. When we’re at our worst, it’s not the time to make blanket assumptions about who we really are. Our true self is our highest self; the lower self is just a mask.
Your children are so young! You don’t have to think about homeschooling them! Don’t wonder how anyone does it. Just think about getting through each day with all of you in one piece. At tough times, that’s an accomplishment to strive for! When they’re old enough to think about this, you’ll be in a different stage of life and have developed different coping strategies.
I don’t want to tell you to put your children in daycare to give yourself a break – this is a very individual decision – but I do think that you can give yourself a huge break by letting go of the guilt. It doesn’t serve any productive purpose. Unrealistic expectations of oneself can be as oppressive and real as a physical load on our shoulders. The burden we place on ourselves when we tell ourselves we ‘should’ be able to do this or ‘should’ be able to do that is very often abusive, and very rarely productive. To borrow a twelve step program slogan, “Stop ‘shoulding’ on yourself!”
When you can do more, you will do more. If that time isn’t now, be as accepting and loving to yourself as you possibly can. We women hold standards for ourselves that are damaging because they set us up for failure before we even start!