I am trying to be more conscious of what is different about my life because I homeschool and what would I be dealing with anyway even if I didn’t homeschool.
For example, last week I was at cello camp with my son, and I noticed that the place was split between stay-at-home moms (lots of homeschoolers) and moms who work full-time who took a week off of work to do cello camp. We were all doing the same thing: eating terrible food, wondering how to get the kid to practice better at home, and furtively checking email during lessons.
The last week was hell, by the way, because the hotel room we had was full of bed bugs. In case you don’t know, I have already faced-down an apartment full of bed bugs in New York City, and I nearly lost my mind. (Here’s the story). So I had a panic attack when I realized that my son and I were covered in bed bug bites. But then I went into bed-bug mode: Plastic bags around everything that can go in the dryer on high heat. Throw out everything else. I even decided that since I was going to get rid of the car soon anyway, I was getting rid of the car now. After all, you cannot put a car in the dryer.
So look, I could write a treatise on bed bugs because I have now dealt with them twice. But my point is that the worst thing that has happened to me in months—the bed bugs—is independent of homeschooling.
And I think that is how most things are. Homeschooling seems hard, but it’s really simply parenting that’s hard. Marriage is hard. Getting out of the bed in the morning is hard, too, sometimes.
Homeschooling is really hard on the days that life is really hard. But I don’t think homeschooling makes things harder.
And the converse is true as well: I just received the insipid Pottery Barn kids back-to-school catalog. As a homeschooler, I am totally sick of the glorification of sending kids to school carrying all their own stuff (in Pottery Barn backpacks and thermoses, of course) like they are going off to war. It’s alienating to me because I want more people to be like me so we can all feel like we’re raising kids with similar values.
But I used to have the same problem with the Pottery Barn catalog when I sent my kids to school: I felt like I wasn’t doing enough for them because they didn’t have matching Star Wars backpacks and lunch boxes.
The Pottery Barn catalog is upsetting whether I homeschool or not.
Bed bugs are totally disgusting and make me panic whether I am homeschooling or not.
I think we underestimate our ability to parent and run a household and run our lives because we think we are already at the edge of what we are able to do. I don’t believe homeschooling makes anything harder, though.
A lot of people tell me they read this blog because they want to homeschool, but they don’t think they can do it. But I want you to know that if you are parenting now, and sending your kids to school, you can parent and not send your kids to school. The biggest problems in your life will not change—they’ll still be the biggest problems. And just like all parents—whether you homeschool or not—you will have a list of stuff that is not one of the biggest problems, and you will ignore it.