Making plans

I’ve started lesson plans for math and Hebrew to meet monthly goals. I worry that the kids learned to read Hebrew way faster than I thought they would. Maybe we should move on to Spanish.

And then I think: Maybe I should not invest in Spanish curriculum because this morning my husband left. He said he was leaving only for the day, because the next day he wants me and the kids out of the house for good.

This is not new for us. I mean, us fighting and me reporting it is not new. But if he really does throw me and the kids out of the house, I’d need a lot of cash. Fast. 

And then I started thinking about what I’ll tell the kids if he’s not back by the time they wake up.

How does anyone think about curricula when life is so hard?

26 replies
  1. Victoria
    Victoria says:

    Hi Penepole,

    I agree with Jim. Make sure to build stability in your home. I think that would be one of teh core components of ensuring that your children/students are successful in your home school.

    Aside from that, I am worried about you and the farmer. Transitions take time and patience on both sides, so keep on keeping on. :)

  2. Amy Lynn Andrews
    Amy Lynn Andrews says:

    I just clicked through your links. You kinda remind me of me. I’m likely “projecting” here, but in case it helps in any way…

    I spend a lot of time trying hard to get my external circumstances (my kids, my marriage, my homeschool, my house, my job) to be “right” when really, the problem is not external but internal. The real issue is that I loathe myself (not all, just parts). I’m not dangerously self-loathing but enough so (1) there’s no end to the cycle, (2) I drive everyone, including myself crazy, because I’m all over the place and (3) it makes for misery on every level.

    • Penelope Trunk
      Penelope Trunk says:

      So, what do you do?

      Also, let me just say that this homeschooling blog thing feels so much more intimate than the other blog I write. I don’t think I’d have this conversation on my other blog, in the comments section. It’s too scary in front of that many people.

      But here I think I will just go ahead and admit to the self-loathing in case anyone has some advice.


      • karelys davis
        karelys davis says:

        I tell people that I love and trust that I am having a self loathing moment and that I need reassurance and someone to pull me out of my pit. With my husband it has become a short cut of “i need compliments right now because I am going nuts” and then he starts shooting and I make an effort to believe him because I don’t automatically. Then when I listen to what other people see in me (good things) I see that I am not all that awful and gather strength to continue. It’s like eating or taking a break for a long journey. Just with emotions. Also, I look through my facebook pictures because normally I only post the pictures I love the show the moments of life that I love. So then those pictures show me that other people love me, enjoy my company, and think I am great. It boosts my emotionally weary self.

      • MichaelG
        MichaelG says:

        I don’t know you except from your writing, so you can take this with a pound of salt.

        I think you trust your instincts a bit too much, and it makes you seem stubborn and erratic to other people.

        I’ve had a lot of depression over the years (I’m disabled), and at some point, you have to just partition yourself. Put all that troublesome stuff to the side and ignore it. Focus on something else.

        I frequently talk to myself, and the most common comment is “Oh, shut up!” said with disdain when that negative part of my personality starts to act up.

        I know the “therapy-oriented” people would be horrified by that attitude. You are supposed to work on your conflicts and so on, to become a healthier person. But I’ve tried therapy and just get tired of hearing myself whine. And in the end, the important thing is to cope with your disabilities, not accept or celebrate them.

        In your case, you have some obvious mental deficits that you need to cope with, and a lot of responsibilities. Perhaps you need to stop trying for the best possible work situation, the best possible education for your kids, and the best possible relationship with the farmer. There’s a lot to be said for just managing to keep all the balls in the air, without trying for perfection.

        It doesn’t strike me that the farmer wants much out of life. He’s got his routines and he wanted some interest and variety from you, but not all this drama. You rarely say anything negative about him, so I don’t think he’s been very demanding.

        If I had to judge your situation from afar, I would say you are just setting your standards too high, pushing too hard, and making yourself (and others) miserable.

        So my advice is back off a bit and take it easier. You’ll really regret it if you blow this up. A marriage is not a startup company.

        • sophie
          sophie says:

          Neither are children.

          MichaelG’s points are so spot on. I really can’t see how homeschooling your children can work if you’re household is in turmoil.

          • Penelope Trunk
            Penelope Trunk says:

            That strikes me as absurd, because it has nothing to do with homeschooling. Stable marriages make stable families. Unstable marriages make unstable families. And everything comes from that.

            So you can’t decide to homeschool or not based on how stable a family is — I mean, it’s not like putting a kid into pubic schools mitigates the impact of an unstable family. (And if it did, wouldn’t the world be a great place?)


      • Amy Lynn Andrews
        Amy Lynn Andrews says:

        {{Penelope, I’m posting this with a different email address in the hopes it’ll get held for moderation (lest it come across as shameless self-promotion). I’ll let you decide whether or not to let it through…no hard feelings either way on my end.}}

        So, “what do I do” you ask? Fumble my way through. Badly, much of the time. Oh, I can pull it together pretty well when needed, but I am very often in the throes of struggle. I’m with you. If we don’t let others see some of our undone-ness but always put on our happy face, no one wins.

        I’m going to go out on a vulnerability limb here and sheesh I hope this does not come out wrong. For me, my faith is key. It centers me and keeps me grounded while my life so easily seems to spin out of control. I’ll say upfront that I’m a Christ-follower and while I’m not ashamed of that fact, I am ashamed of others who claim the same and then act like complete idiots—bashing, manipulating and threatening anyone who doesn’t believe the same. I’ve had my own moments of idiocy in the name of Christ to be sure (and in the name of a lot of other things too), but my goal is to present my faith not in a “repent or you’re going to hell (plus I get another ‘Salvation Notch’ on my spiritual belt)” sort of way, but in a “holy guacamole why didn’t anyone tell me about this before??” type of way. I hope it comes across like that. While I personally believe Christ is “it” I also recognize and respect that everyone has the freedom to choose to believe that…or something else entirely. It’s their choice like it was mine. All I can talk about is my own experience.

        OK, disclaimer over. Here are the posts I wrote several years ago (on my now defunct blog) which explain “what I do,” what I think and how it looks from where I sit:

        Marriage According to Amy
        What’s Crap?
        What’s Crap? Part 2.
        My Rock Bottom

        If you decide to check any of them out, I hope there’s something there that sheds a bit of light on your situation (or provides a tiny bit of entertainment, lol!). If nothing else, I hope it gives you the knowledge that there’s someone else struggling right alongside you, even if our stories are somewhat different.

      • emily
        emily says:

        here’s what i think is most difficult about the self-loathing: it’s easy to change but it takes some time and because you hate something so much you just want it to go away right this second. that itself is difficult because it’s hard to just stand for one more minute that you aren’t this other person you want to be. but i think the trick is to see that there’s two things existing inside you at once – not all bad or not all good.

        what’s difficult is not vacillating between the two sides from one moment to the next. i’m not sure exactly how this works – but i’ve been thinking about pride and shame and how those are the two sides of the same self-hatred coin. i don’t think it’s possible to eradicate those feelings all together, but i’m trying to be more aware of when those feelings come up.

  3. Someone in WI
    Someone in WI says:

    I know you’re not religious… but I am praying for you, and I hope that doesn’t offend you. I’m guessing you’re in a good deal of anguish right now. I’m praying for wisdom and strength for both you and The Farmer. Not praying for a specific outcome, but praying for those things. And peace.

    Hang in there. Be hopeful. Bad times come and go; good times come and go. Trite but so true.

    Be willing to hang in there. Be willing to try to change, for his sake. Maybe he’ll be willing to change for yours, just a little bit, too.

    Hesitating about posting this. Not sure if it’s helpful at all. But the sadness just gets to me and I want you to know that someone out here is hurting for you. And we never even met.

    The internet is so weird that way. :)

    • Penelope Trunk
      Penelope Trunk says:

      That’s nice. Thanks.

      I remember prior comments you have left. And I was worried they were not that nice, which normally doesn’t worry me, but I worried that you were also my neighbor, in cognito.

      So I actually googled your IP address — the address your computer has on the Internet. It’s a stalking thing that I have the privilege of doing with the people who leave comments.

      Anyway, this is a nice comment, and you make me happy that, while you are not my neighbor, you are relatively close. I like having someone so nice living so close.


  4. Cathy0
    Cathy0 says:

    Pen, I don’t know whether you and the farmer are right for each other, maybe you are. But I agree that you can’t fix things until you fix yourself. But then, you seem to be doing all the right things, having counselling, being self-aware, doing yoga/meditation, so it’s not easy to find something else that you could do that might help.
    Couple of things I notice, FWIW:
    1. You are seeing your family more. And on your list of things to do is ring your dad.
    I’m no expert, but given that your parents are/were so dysfunctional, and your dad abused you, is family contact helping you?
    2. Healing yourself takes a lot of energy. Earning an income takes a lot of energy. Homeschooling takes a lot of energy. Keeping a relationship together and running a home and family take a lot of energy. Are you overdoing it?
    3. If it were me, I would not be taking on homeschooling just now. I would devote the extra time to myself. Sometimes you have to be selfish in order to help your family, and sometimes selfish is ok.

    We’ve never met either, and I’m in Australia! (could hardly be further away) but I would like you to be happy.

  5. Someone in WI
    Someone in WI says:

    What, my other comments were not so nice??? really??? I’m very unnerved by this, because I thought I always left nice comments, truly! And not that many, I don’t think. One about the maps for Paddle to the Sea… what else? I don’t even recall. I’m truly stunned and very sorry if I came across as not nice… ugh… and I’m really, REALLY sorry if it creeped you out, thinking I was your neighbor being not-nice. Double ugh.

    So, no, we’ve never met (not sure what the IP address search said but I live about 2-1/2 hours away from you) and I don’t know where you live (though I know the town, which you’ve mentioned, and I pass by your exit a few times a year taking our daughter to college… my family laughs because I always, every single time, rave about how GORGEOUS that part of the state is! Love it so much — the hills, the farms… glorious!) And it’s OK that you googled my IP address. I used to blog and did the same thing, sometimes.

    Be peaceful. Be hopeful. I’m still praying.

  6. Liobov
    Liobov says:

    I get that people say stupid, hurtful things when they are angry. But throwing kids out of the house?! Seriously? Ether this is just bullshit that he didn’t mean and you should not worry about this. Or, if he is serious, good riddance! He can be mad at you all he wants but taking it out on the kids is UNACCEPTABLE! Doesn’t matter they are not his biological kids. Doesn’t matter he is not legally responsible for them. He lives with them, he has a relationship with them. They care about him. Throwing them out of his life on a whim is truly heartless. What kind of person does that?! You don’t want that kind of man around your children.

  7. Ash
    Ash says:

    P, I read your career blog a lot and someday soon I will send you an email thanking you for making me trust myself while being lost and doing this crazy home-biz thing.

    In the meantime, here’s my 2c.

    You and the farmer have this problem a lot. You need to read Gretchen’s (I know you hate her, happiness-project chick) posts on creating a happier marriage. Seriously, her posts on ignoring the small things, how to not nag your husband, etc have really helped me in my marriage. So much of marriage has to do with the small things, being nice, smiling when you’re annoyed, apologizing asap, just generally being there for each other (yes I only have a few years experience with this but they’ve been great years!)

    You and the farmer sound really great together otherwise. I know you both have a lot of drama going on (no1 talks about the neurosis of starting a small biz and I get seriously upset once a week or so – my husband has learnt by now to reassure me and just stay calm while I calm down) and the farmer has his whole farm problem… so you both have serious problems which can drive you nuts but you also need to be there for each other. It can be hard to be strong and supportive and calm when you’re going nuts inside so I guess you just need to take turns? And not freak out/get insanely angry at the same time?

    I obviously am not qualified and know only a tiny sliver of your lives.

    But I think you are both good for each other. So don’t stop trying! If needed get good couples therapy.


    (Also, post as soon as things are ok again!)

  8. Ash
    Ash says:

    Also – I have read your blog enough to know that a lot of your problems are created by you (as you freely admit).

    But I have to agree with the poster above that the farmer needs to learn to take responsibility for your sons.

    Whatever happens between you two, he needs to be there for his sons.

  9. Lori
    Lori says:

    re: homeschooling, the nice thing is that you can let it slide for awhile if you want (there are people who would not agree with that, but that’s the way it is for us) and if your boys have interests to carry on with, you can let them go on their own steam for awhile while you figure things out. think about all the time that is wasted in public school — how few minutes per day are actually spent on instruction. you have time; don’t worry about it.

    i saw the farmer announce on his blog that he had split from his parents, and i thought that meant you guys were on the same page and moving forward. i’m sorry that’s not the case. but i wonder if he isn’t going through a tremendous amt of stress with this huge change with his family, which might exacerbate everything between you. i know i am always saying to back off for awhile, but i’ve been with my husband for almost 30 years (since i was 18!) and it’s my crone wisdom.

    i really hope you guys make it past this rough patch.

  10. Al
    Al says:

    Does the farmer see himself reflected in anyone whose opinion he truly respects? Any friends, family, anyone?

    He seems like a bottler who vacillates between comfortable stoicism and emotional moodiness. He also seems unaware of how emotional and moody he is, like he’s using “logic” because he “couldn’t” be motivated and charged by his feelings.

    I wonder if you’re owning your moodiness and he’s unconsciously thinking that all the emotions in the house stem from you. In other words, he hasn’t yet even recognized that he, too, is a human, who has human moments of irrational feelings that fixate his attention and drive his actions.

    He could probably avoid that realization if he was a loner who lived on his parents’ farm for decades.

    I’d bet that while you ARE self-admittedly an interpersonal challenge, he hasn’t even realized that he is one, too.

    Is he just going to wall out everyone who makes him face his weak emotional architecture? He needs to disarticulate his weak emotional architecture and build it up to be stronger and more resilient.

    Your emo moments aren’t mutually exclusive from his emo moments. They can coexist. Does he understand this? Or does he just assume they can all trace back to you, like he is a cyborg who only reacts? That’s playing the victim and narrating oneself as inhuman. Life is messy, including for the farmer. If he wants to be a human and engage in relationships he has to tear down his flimsy emo self and build it up stronger.

  11. Anon this time
    Anon this time says:

    This is tough to read. I am sorry for your hurt and distress. I wish I could help…bring you a casserole or take the kids for an evening so you could breathe.

    I’m doing the homeschooling thing while going through a divorce. And it’s not just any divorce, but a divorce where the corporately-successful husband (with the perfect partner in a supportive wife, who also wrote all of his emails and presentations and analyses for YEARS) turned all Don Draper and ran off with a 24 y.o. personal assistant.

    (Ugh. I am living a Mary Chapin Carpenter song.)

    I provide stability at home, though, through being a single parent. He gladly gave me sole custody. That’s different from your situation, which is two- and three-parent but perhaps more volatile in this moment.

    I want you to know that I am, to my mind, doing a damn decent job homeschooling while running three small businesses and maintaining a professional, but distant relationship with the ex (who is basically an absentee father). Do I stay up late and get up early and sometimes feel like SWEET FANCY MOSES WHAT HAVE I DONE?!?!? Yes. Circumstances have changed and I have accepted that. The fact that I remain committed to homeschooling has not. It’s right for the kids, and it’s still right for me.

    Penelope, you inspired me to homeschool over the past year with your posts that challenged the wisdom of accepting the bullshit status quo of public schools and schooling. If this is right for you and your kids, you will find your way through the other crap, and still homeschool. If this is not right for you and the kids *right now*, change your plans and let yourself off the hook until you get to a place that feels good, or good enough, for you to begin that process again.

    I believe in you.

  12. Alice Bachini-Smith
    Alice Bachini-Smith says:

    Penelope, I homeschooled for ten years. After that, I went through a divorce and remarriage and my kids went into school. It was good for them, because it brought them the stabilit and routine they weren’t getting at home. I geniunely would not homeschool at all until you have achieved stability, because children really do need something good and reliable in their life to feel secure. The only exception for me would be if they were very unhappy at school and there was no other school to try. I think their emotional wellbeing is the most fundamental requirement for their education, and having the best education is not worth the sacrifice of losing the stability school can offer to kids in an unstable world.

    So what I would do is protect them from what’s going on, first by making sure they are not exposed to it and then by doing whatever you have to do to calm things down.

    I have no wish to judge, this is just what I would do in your circumstances, which only you can judge or fully know about.

  13. Nowgirl
    Nowgirl says:

    Get a friend to move in. It seems like when you have a close friend in your daily life it puts less pressure on the Farmer to be your talking partner. He’s not up for that job but loves you when you aren’t pressuring him to do it. A friend there seems to make it work.

    I am so sorry it’s so hard, for all four of you.

    My sense is that if you can get yourself set up to ask less of him as a talker, it will be okay.

  14. Alice Bachini-Smith
    Alice Bachini-Smith says:

    Also, you don’t have to be The Best when it comes to parenting, or educating. Children learn about life from everything, not just the things that go well. The main thing is to protect them from the crap, make sure they feel safe, relax and focus on what matters: people first, then curricula. If they’ve got something worthwhile to do, they’re learning. Homeschoolers have all the time they need for catching up on missed schedules.

  15. Jill Renee
    Jill Renee says:

    wow….you do have a lot of balls in the air.

    have you asked the farmer what he wants out of you? do you know what you want out of him? can you agree on anything these days?

    it can be hard, whether in a marriage, or with coworkers to remember that you are on the same team; wanting the same things.

    do you have rules for fighting fair? I find that helps between me and my husband, as well as between me and my coworker (who may have asperger’s and reminds me of miles vorkosigan)

    good luck!

  16. brooklynchick
    brooklynchick says:

    I am so, so sorry to hear that.

    I hope you are doing everything you are able to do to take care of yourself (most days I only do one or two): sleep, eat well, walk, talk to a shrink, take your meds, breathe, call a friend, get a massage…..

    I don’t know if I would like you in real life :) but I bet I would and I wish I could come over and hang.

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