When you go to a homeschool blog I bet you expect to find pictures framing moments of a charmed life: Dogs and children and nature and fun.But most of homeschooling makes for terrible photos, because most of homeschooling is just parenting: driving, cleaning, and discipline. And I’m not even sure this is unnatural. I mean, look at lives in early societies: most of parenting involved gathering food, and dragging kids along. And then preparing food, and making the kids play by themselves because the mom is busy. And telling the kids to get away from the fire.
So this all seems natural. Yet it feels unnatural. Or at least unacceptable. Like the only thing worthy to be parenting is playing baseball together all day or curling up with a child, on a sofa, with a book.
My sons both go to a psychologist. They each have a different one. My older son goes to an Aspergers specialist. She gives us tips on issues like how to cope with the fact that my son is not sensitive to cold, so his hands get frostbitten in the winter, and he’s over sensitive to heat, so he cries when the house is humid. (Ancillary Aspergers tidbit that does not belong in this post, but whatever: I am the opposite. I take scalding baths and burn myself once a week. And I wear a down coat in the summer because I can never get warm enough.)
My younger son goes to a psychologist because he is extremely emotional. I am not sure if he is actually fine and it’s more my problem because I am extremely unemotional. Or maybe he is part of a long, familial line of manic depressives (tidbit: most famous musicians have some sort of mental imbalance), and I also just have very little parenting confidence because my own parents were so incompetent.
So anyway, you probably know by now that I have a lot of household help. I have a housecleaner and a driver and an assistant and then each of them sort of overlaps when I need it. My thoughts about this are that I pay people to do all the stuff that is not parenting and then I do the parenting. But I also have to work to pay for all that.
So we were in therapy yesterday and my son said, “My real dad’s favorite is my brother and my step dad’s favorite is me, and my mom’s favorite is work.”
I could analyze this statement for the next 50 blog posts, but really the thing that sticks out for me is that no matter what I spend my time doing, any time when I’m not staring at my kids is time they think I am not parenting.
I expected that my choice to homeschool would inoculate me against any parenting guilt. But instead, it makes me more of a philosopher of guilt. And what I really think is going on here is that the more time you spend with your kids, the more problems you see.