This is a guest post from Kerelys Beltran. She has a toddler son. And she is one of the most prolific and insightful commenters on this blog. Karelys sent this email to me and I thought it would be fun for everyone to read.

I thought you were so ridiculous when you said, vehemently, that parents sent kids to school because they wanted a break. Who in their right mind would ever sacrifice their kids’ well-being for their own?

But look at this: Parents of Toddlers IT GETS BETTER!

And that is just one of MANY moms that celebrate the advent of the school year as the time of life when they get to have some peace and quiet again for a few hours during the day.

It’s crazy to me!

But notice that it’s socially acceptable to make this choice. And it’s like how we buy electronics built in sweatshops where kids get their arms cut off and they are working like slaves. We just turn a blind eye—out of sight, out of mind. We don’t walk around looking at people with iPhones like they have blood dripping from their hands or like they are encouraging and voting for child labor with their money.

I think it’s the same with school. Parents don’t really like to think hard about it, or challenge their own thinking, because everyone celebrates school and parents get a break from the annoying kids.

I’ve been so tired lately. I am a million years pregnant. And I can’t sleep well. Thankfully my office hours start at 9 (which is late for normal office hours) but it seems so early to me.

Every morning I think, “There’s no way I am sending my kid to school and driving myself even crazier with the school schedule!”

But as soon as he’s ready, I will teach him to make himself a smoothie so he lets me sleep in 15 more minutes.

 

69 replies
  1. YesMyKidsAreSocialized
    YesMyKidsAreSocialized says:

    Oh Karelys! You are almost there sweetie! Please email me after the baby is born with details!

    I always love your insights.

    • Karelys
      Karelys says:

      No kid yet. It’s been on and off since Wednesday.
      I seriously don’t know why I choose things like this (unschooling, natural birth, etc.). I’m not the kind of person to naturally gravitate to letting nature take its course. I like to make things happen and make them happen on time.
      It’s beyond me how it ever occurred to me it was a good idea. Research probably.

  2. Heather Bathon
    Heather Bathon says:

    Insightful and smart and beautiful to boot – you’ll make a rocking’ home-school mom!
    Best wishes for the birth of your son or daughter.

  3. Jim Grey
    Jim Grey says:

    I sent my kids to school because it felt like the natural order of things. I didn’t question it.

    I did, however, question a different norm, of the mom going back to work after the kids were born. I asked my wife to stay home with them until they were in school. She sort of did; she built a home-based business and worked all the way through.

    I can see now that all I was doing was trying to recreate the same conditions I had as a kid, with a mom who stayed home until her kids were both in school.

    It takes a lot of time to move a society off “the thing we’ve always done.”

    • Karelys
      Karelys says:

      Honestly I came across this idea of unschooling by accident. And it took way too long for me to fully accept it. Once I embraced it, though, it became routine to always try to find an alternative path to doing things if I disliked or have a hard time with how life goes at the moment.

      Around 2008 I read in psychology today, because I was bored at work, how kids were learning without being taught, and they included a bit about Sudbury-type of schools.

      Then I found Penelope because her tweet about the miscarriage made waves and Jezebel covered it. She was so off the wall I loved her right away. But she offended my sensibilities all the time and I couldn’t stop reading the blog still.

      When I started reading this blog and she made a point that it was a good idea to be a one income household (because I assumed it meant “the woman needs to be home”) I kept trying to prove to myself she was nuts. Until I couldn’t. And then we figured it was easier for everyone if my husband stayed home.

      But I resisted the change for so long and the idea was planted years ago before anything came of it.

  4. Gretchen
    Gretchen says:

    What is meant by “office hours”?
    Is this a job? Where does the child go when she is doing this? I’m confused.

    • YesMyKidsAreSocialized
      YesMyKidsAreSocialized says:

      Her husband stays with their son during the day. She works. Most of us are familiar enough with her comments to know this already, that’s why there probably isn’t much detail in it as it was an email not a blog post.

  5. I love being with my girls
    I love being with my girls says:

    That link is unbelievable !!
    Im in the UK …its the same here
    Why are parents just so happy to part with their children for such a huge part of the week :-/
    It actually makes me sad !
    Our eldest went to preschool, nursery and reception until age 4 1/2 then it just hit me I don’t want this …I’ve not spent 10 yrs trying to have children just to pass them off to someone else
    Keep these amazing posts coming :-)
    Xxx

    • Karelys
      Karelys says:

      Probably because it’s so commonly accepted and the needs of the kids contend with the needs of the parents so much that everyone is happy to have a break. Plus kids are so crazy when they’re not in school because they’re not used to it.

  6. jessica
    jessica says:

    Raising a child is as much about raising someone to take care of themselves (sleep through the night, feed themselves, speak with assertiveness, dress themselves, emotionally regulate themselves etc.) as it is about the relationship with the parents. Hopefully, kids have supportive parents that recognize their own shortcomings as well as parental personal needs to prevent hindering growth in any of the child’s areas. That said, the more you can teach a child to do for themselves, the better for the child and thus the parent so in a sense it IS the child first. Hard work pays dividends.

    On that note, I don’t know anyone that raises their kids completely solo (whether they outsource to school or not). It’s with those breaks that the child is in (hopefully) safe care which allow the parents to breathe. And I think it’s important for everyone to have a break here and there :).

    • Karelys
      Karelys says:

      I think that if you’re asking if my husband will stay home while the kids grow up then yes, that’s what we’re hoping for. The plan is always to pull off having a parent at home.

      When it comes to education we both will do it.

      I know that YMKAS stays home and husband works. But from what I know the father is just as influential in education as she is. So we’re hoping to follow that lead.

      • MBL
        MBL says:

        In our case, my husband trusts me implicitly regarding our daughter’s care and education. He has never question if, or how we should homeschool. Unschooling? Ummm, okay.

        He is the fun and somewhat reckless parent. He lets her do things that I think are questionable, but they have worked out okay so far and they have allowed her to stretch and grow faster than my nerves would have permitted. He is the one who gets her out of the house on adventures and is endlessly patient when she want to teach “art class” or play “animal shelter” or “unicorn cats.”

        So while our situation is different than both of us being co-leaders in her “education,” I feel that we are equally influential in her overall development into the charming, bouncy girl that is our daughter.

        Oh, and he works his a$$ off to provide the means for our choices.

    • YesMyKidsAreSocialized
      YesMyKidsAreSocialized says:

      “Teachers” are schooly-type words that don’t have a place in my home. I’m a facilitator of my children’s education. I help guide them in finding answers, and I introduce new topics all the time. Unschooling is all about letting your child lead.

    • mh
      mh says:

      Gretchen, not to answer for Karelys, but I think she has commented about her family unschooling their children. There’s no real need for a “teacher” per se in that arrangement, unless the family decides to hire a tutor for something. (We often hire for sports and music, and we co-op for choir and the arts)

      Most unschooling parents serve more as guides and coaches.

      Kids are natural learners – you can’t really stop them from learning unless you try. That’s the problem with compulsory school – it is designed to be tedious drudgery for children, and the children rightly lose interest.

      Sadly, compulsory school in America is designed for the women who are employed there, not for the children who would like to learn but find themselves often thwarted.

      There’s no real reason a family who removes their children from compulsory school would recreate the same dynamics within their home.

  7. Gretchen
    Gretchen says:

    By the way, that “Momastery” post is horrifying. I don’t like her stuff. It’s trite and saccharine sweet…too much about how hard SAHMS have it. I miss my kid all day long and cringe when people have this attitude.

    • YesMyKidsAreSocialized
      YesMyKidsAreSocialized says:

      I have to admit I agree with you on momastery. I read one post that I really liked about Parenting at You or something…but wow, those photos in the link were not my cup of tea, to put it nicely.

    • Janelle
      Janelle says:

      I think your heart grows fonder when you are gone from your kids 5 days a week. I have never been in this situation, but I have often wondered what it would be like. I know when I actually get time away from my kids I am so much more refreshed and able to tolerate them. I am with them literally 24/7. I can relate to posts that are about how tired SAHMs are and how they need a break. I don’t think Moms were meant to cook clean and take care of multiple children with no break, no time for rejuvenation… which is what I am experiencing.

      • YesMyKidsAreSocialized
        YesMyKidsAreSocialized says:

        Agree 100% and stay at home dads too deserve some relief! The more kids you have the more necessary it is to get a break. Add in gifted kids/2e kids with OE then any break you get is needed to get that refresher you need to keep your sanity. Let’s not lie to eachother and degrade sahm for keeping it real. My house is a mess, but the kids are fed and happy loving little crazy people. Not ever would I want to trade this. But, yeah, come on! We all deserve some rest.

        • Karelys
          Karelys says:

          What do you do for a break?

          Right now I’m laying in bed brooding because is not following my demands ;) so I asked my husband to watch the kid. For him is going out with friends or on a date with me. I want to be alone when I need recharging.

          You? I ask because you have three kids.

          • YesMyKidsAreSocialized
            YesMyKidsAreSocialized says:

            Well, I do several things. Usually I will plan a three day getaway with either my mother or a few friends who also need a recharging period away once a year.

            Then my spouse and I plan some time away as well.

            During the days I do a combo of yoga and meditative breathing techniques. Since I don’t hover around my kids we all get plenty of alone time throughout the day, even though we are all together we do our own thing in separate spaces. For instance one kid can work on programming while the other draws and I can do my own reading or research. Then we can all get together and talk about what we are doing, I can help look up a function or have them read stories they created to me. I can suggest books to read or play games with them. We can watch a documentary together and discuss and research further. Then we can go back to our separate spaces without interruption.

            This doesn’t mean that there are not crazy days or weeks, especially when my spouse happens to work 90 hours that week or there is some meltdown happening. Then I rely on my support system that I have built and talk with other parents who get my situation and feed me supportive words. It’s good to have people in your life that are supportive of your lifestyle, for me that’s unschooling and unconditional parenting. that’s its own hurdle right there sometimes.

  8. Teryn
    Teryn says:

    I recently read an article that says the exact opposite of this post. The argument is that Americans have made a religion out of putting their kids first, before themselves and their marriages. http://qz.com/273255/how-american-parenting-is-killing-the-american-marriage/
    I think the reason why parents celebrate school is because it’s the one socially acceptable escape from the overwhelming pressure in our society to revolve our lives around our kids. It’s the time when parents can do their own thing and not feel guilty because we think kids are supposed to go to school. It’s not crazy to me at all that parents are excited for this freedom. Anyone who spends 24/7 with multiple children is going to be excited about a break. Those that work will be excited about spending less on daycare. I think people are crazy that want to spend every minute with their children or any person. I home school my son because I believe it’s the best option for him right now but I think it’s very healthy for him to have time away from me too. If I don’t make consistent time away from my kids a priority on the schedule I start to get cranky and burnt out. There are times when my husband and I practically skip out the door on date night. The first time I went on a bike ride alone after my last pregnancy I shouted “FREEDOM” at the top of my lungs. That bike ride was glorious by the way. The truth is that parenting is hard enough just doing the status quo and not everyone has the energy to pursue something that requires more sacrifice and that’s foreign to them like homeschooling.

    • Caro
      Caro says:

      I was going to mention this as well. But it’s confusing how kids come first in the US when they are at school and the rest of the day is filled with activities and homework.. There’s no time left for family outside of the weekend. Does it really matter who drives you to school and soccer practice then?

      Maybe it’s an excuse for the primary caregiver to quit work and drop out of a loveless marriage?

      I just finished Bringing Up Bebe and liked how there is a cultural focus on women being complete people – mothers, wives, and workers. Sex is not supposed to disappear and there are classes to renew the perineum after childbirth to ensure it doesn’t.

      We all know that we can choose what’s important to us and make time for it whether it’s work, exercise, friends, church.

      I’m a proponent of homeschooling but don’t understand dropping everything in life for kids. They are temporary. Your job is to prepare them to successfully leave you. The I’m a parent excuse only works for 12-14 years. Then what?

      • karelys
        karelys says:

        Caro I hear what you say and that was my fear before we took the plunge and tried for kids. So there was a lot of conversation about what we were going to do to put marriage first.

        That was part of the reason we dropped one income. It was nice to have more money but not at thr expense of our marriage.

        We love our child so much! Parenthood is a relationship and just like any healthy relationship it needs balance and everyone’s needs to have some attention. I sound like a.scratched record “no. Mom and dad are allowed to say no just like you say no.”
        I’ve said it enough that it has finally started to sink.in with my two year old.

        I don’t know if really there’s pressure to parent a certain way. I haven’t felt any pressure other than people asking if we spank when we share our goal to homeschool and dote on our kid.
        I don’t force myself to be in environments that are uncomfortable, detrimental, etc. So if I don’t like it, I’m not a part. We’re just trying to cut the fat everywhere so we can have what’s most important to us.

        In this way we find that we have more energy for bigger and better things and a funner marriage and relationship with our kid.

    • karelys
      karelys says:

      For a while I read amd studied poverty a lot. It was very intriguing to me. One big thing I noticed is how poor people are so tired from constantly chasing money to barely make ends meet that it’s so hard to do anything to improve their odds of getting out of poverty.

      In the same way, when we’re overwhelmed, we don’t have much room for considering and crafting the circumstances for something better. Yes, kids are annoying because they need so much all the time. But I’ve noticed that once they’re secure in their parents availability they tone it down. Plus you establish a way of communication that is best for both parties.

      I see the child’s need of attention like hunger. When I lived in Mexico I wasn’t malnourished per se. But there was a clear understanding that there was no money for treats and that food was rationed. When we moved to the States I gained so much weight because food was so available everywhere and it was good food! It was hard to pass up and to stop eating even if I was too full.
      But after a decade of living here I’m okay. I know that food will be there again tomorrow so I don’t have the need to binge. My father, however, was so scarred from a childhood of deprivation that food is such a big deal still. And I can see how emotionally, deprivation or rationed affection leads many people to make bad decisions in the dating scene. In the other hand, i see that when kids are fully secure they tend to crave some space to themselves. The challenge with more than one kid would be that they probably don’t sync and let the parents have alone time so it has to be worked on.

      For me, homeschooling is the answer to my resistance of outside factors dictate my life (like school schedules) and my need to take a break when I need it. It’s also about my deep need and desire to have romance and stability in my marriage.

      It may be challenging just like everything in life that’s challenging but we get a say of how it’s done and when we stop to breathe.

      • MBL
        MBL says:

        “In the same way, when we’re overwhelmed, we don’t have much room for considering and crafting the circumstances for something better.”

        There have been studies done regarding decision fatigue. I believe that had some people make a lot of micro decisions and others just make a few overall decisions and then tracked what kind of snack they chose. The ones suffering from decision fatigue were much more likely to choose junk than fruit or something.

        That kicks in even with inconsequential decisions. Image the toll “food or heat” would take.

  9. Ggillis
    Ggillis says:

    Huh??? Wait, I can chose to stay home and home-school my kid? Sign me up! I would truly love to do that for my children!! Please, just let me know who is going to pay the mortgage after I quit my job to be a teacher. Thanks!

    • jessica
      jessica says:

      Life is about choices.

      You can make that happen if you want. You can move, you can downsize, you can become a part time tutor.

    • karelys
      karelys says:

      Or you can choose to work and homeschool your kid or work and bring your kid with you or not have a mortgage. You can choose what you want. You just have to decide and work on making it happen.

      But you have to decide what you really want because having what you want most is also giving up what you want a little less than your top priority.

  10. sa
    sa says:

    I’m not married and don’t have kids but these types of conversations always remind me of when I was in college and volunteered as an EMT. During the training they would ask ‘Who’s the most important person at the scene of an accident?’. Everyone would usually say the patient(s) or the most senior person involved. But the answer was ‘yourself’. The reason being that if you didn’t pay attention to what you were doing and your own well-being you could easily become another patient which would ultimately detract from patient care. I often think about this when I see my friends running around doing ‘stuff for the kids’ but stop looking out for themselves.

    • karelys
      karelys says:

      Several times before in the comments I’ve mentioned how homeschooling for us is as much about us the parents as for the kids. But it didn’t start that way.
      I have some pretty terrible insomnia. The thought of having adult responsibility and on top of that letting a school schedule run our lives makes me want to cry.

      My kids have dual citizenship like myself. The plan is to take off to Mexico for a mini sabbatical. Something we can’t do if they go to school.

      But between fundraising, homework, bus rides, etc. I just want to tear my hair out. Everything is a trade off and homeschooling has it’s challenges but the rewards are more valuable to us.

  11. Becky Castle Miller
    Becky Castle Miller says:

    Re: the smoothie comment. We taught our oldest child to help make cappuccinos when she was two. Now she’s almost 8. She has cooked with me a ton and can master scrambled eggs all on her own. Nothing like coffee and breakfast from your kids in the morning!

    • karelys
      karelys says:

      Oh man!I don’t even want that much. Just 5 more minutes in bed after a long bout of insomnia.

      But if they’re making themselves breakfast then sure I want some! :)

  12. Amy K.
    Amy K. says:

    This post reminds me of my mom. She stayed home for over a decade. When I began first grade, I don’t think she danced a jig. But what she did do was look f

    • Amy K.
      Amy K. says:

      Grr! Sorry.

      My mom loved going back to work. I feel like one of the reasons she is going strong at 85 is because she is good at self-care. In her senior years, that means lots of naps and playing viola and church volunteering.

      In her 40s, it meant going to work once we were in school.

  13. Tracy
    Tracy says:

    Nice to see a full-blown post from you,great pic. Congrats on the new arrival and looking forward to the extra dimension it adds to your commentary.

  14. MBL
    MBL says:

    I would like to take this opportunity to call BS on a comment that Karelys made a few weeks ago. She stated that being beautiful was not her lot in life. Since she used have her photo as an avatar, I knew that was bunk. Clearly.

    Sending easy labor vibes your way!!!

  15. Grace
    Grace says:

    Karelys, this is awesome. Most issues are “out of sight, out of mind” anyways. But I wish you the best of luck on your pregnancy.

    Grace
    P.S. In regards to smoothies: those are awesome. I got into it with a one-cup blender, then upgraded to a Vitamix. I’m told that Vitamixes have lawn-mower engines and they make hot soup. :)

  16. Erin
    Erin says:

    Maybe this is entirely superficial, but I just gotta say: when I realized I was seeing your face for the first time, it made me giddy. I always love your comments, Karelys! :) Best wishes with your birth!

  17. Curious
    Curious says:

    Karelys.. I have always wondered what would be best for my child – school or home-schooling. It sounds to me like you are basing your decision on what is best for you as you suffer with insomnia and don’t feel able to cope with the school schedule. If you could cope with the schedule, would you still home-school/unschool?

    Do you think that home-schooling/unschooling will impact your childrens’ social skills and how do you intend to ensure this essential part of their learning and development will not be stunted? Just curious to know what your ideas are as this is one of the main reasons why I would not home-school. Thanks.

    • Zellie
      Zellie says:

      I consider the socialization in schools to be distorted. If people mean by “stunted” not knowing who the popular bands are or what clothes are in style, that is only important when mixing with the distorted social groups as a child. A person’s being different does not equal stunted development.

    • karelys
      karelys says:

      We decided to homeschool first because we wanted to provide a kickass education and remove barriers set by the education system. It was after all that I realized that people assume homeschooling is so taxing but it actually would be really conductive to happiness in our family.

      If insomnia wasn’t a problem I would homeschool.

      We’re not worried about socialization because both my husband and I were great students and really good with niceties to make friends. Yet, the freedom that adulthood provides when it comes to socialization is exhilarating!

      There’s no shortage of things to do and people to meet outside of school. The kid just has to ask.

      And honestly, I may sound like a hallmark card but life really is about people. You would have to work really hard to avoid contact with people because wherever you go and whatever you do you need other people to get it done.

  18. Isabelle
    Isabelle says:

    Hi,

    I homeschool my oldest kid (14), but my yougest (8) goes to school (his father forced us, he is the father of the yougest only), so I jump as the mother of the picture when my little one DON’T have to go to school.

  19. Commenter
    Commenter says:

    Karelys, I think your choice to keep your toddler at home is great, and the perspective you have on the family as a whole is refreshing.

    I’d love to hear your husband’s perspective as the one who stays home with the kid, especially once the kid is school-age. Does he write as well as you do?

  20. Cindy
    Cindy says:

    These discussions always make me a little sad because those years are behind me, and I cannot have a do-over. I wish I had had it more together to have seriously considered home or unschooling.

    I have memories of my 9 year old son begging me over and over to homeschool him, and I dismissed it. I honestly had no idea how I would pull it off in our situation. I was a newly single mom trying to keep a roof over our heads. Having my kids home at all times with me seemed like an impossibility, given what I had to deal with.

    I was attempting to restart a career after 7 years as a SAHM. It was hellish. Had I decided to homeschool, I am sure I would have had flack from my ex, as if it wasn’t a valid choice. And, I needed them gone for part of the day so I could figure out how to bring in money.

    I was spending way too much time looking over my shoulder and walking on eggshells, lest I do anything to cause more upheaval and drama. I was in a constant state of terror that my children would be taken from me for something my ex was conjuring up and overblowing. I have since accepted the man has serious psychological issues. And, we’re all in a calm, solid place now. But, back then, it was a source of severe stress for us all.

    I started my own business 5 years ago which was the best way for me to have control over my income and time. I could be there for them always. But, I still had to do the work…By that time they were already 13 and 15.

    Before that, all I knew was that we were all living in fear of him and I was trying desperately to figure out how to work and still be the mom they needed me to be. So, simply getting my kids to school and back and being there when both things happened was something that felt like a big accomplishment and somewhat normal apart from the craziness we were otherwise dealing with.

    So, I guess that brings me to the point that homeschooling or unschooling is a bit of a luxury. You really need a two parent household with both parents onboard. And, seriously, how often do I see that these days? It’s sad. I feel like our home became a magnet for the fatherless boys…..so many uninvolved parents….sigh……They started coming here when my boys were in high school because I love to cook and I fed them all. I let them sleep here if they wanted and had a welcoming place for them.

    I think all the kids in those situations tend to find each other. My boys had no dad, really. So, other kids who also had no dad, or mom, gravitated toward each other. Maybe that’s why it seemed to me that no parents were involved anymore. That’s what I was seeing.

    My “domestic partner” of the last few years is a solid man. He’s a magnet for the boys. He teaches them how to fix things, how to work on their cars, has barbecues for them, teaches them how to play the guitar, etc…. You know, dad-type stuff. He works from home half the week (the other half on sight) for a huge technology company as a senior systems engineer (who dropped out of school way back when).

    He’s an amazing example to them of being a lousy student, then becoming self-taught, and successful. It’s made all the difference in the world around here. It’s balanced now.

    They’ve seen their mom start from nothing (we were homeless almost exactly 5 years ago) start a business and create a nice home. They see a man who didn’t fit in with the school system, and still found a way to create a great career well-suited to him. We have a great life right now. But, man, what a road it’s been.

    Still, I wish I could turn back the clock and have a redo……say yes to the little boy who wanted his mom to homeschool him…..

    • Erin
      Erin says:

      Cindy – This story is so raw. It sounds like you created something beautiful out of the chaos.

      The more I deal with the burdens of regret in my own life, the more I see how difficult experiences change me. They open up a side of empathy I could not have known otherwise. Maybe it doesn’t make bad things hurt less, but at least it makes them meaningful.

      Also, have you read the post “How to unschool a kid AND send him to school” from earlier this year? You may find it engaging. Link: http://education.penelopetrunk.com/2014/02/11/how-to-unschool-a-struggling-student/

    • karelys
      karelys says:

      Cyndi thanks for sharing your beautiful story.

      Honestly I think that despite what goes on in the past we always have a chance at redemption because people want that wound healed. It’s awful that your ex was so horrible. But you’re a great example of grit and courage. Kids benefit so much from that. My father had many shortcomings, but his example of (sometimes pretending) to not be afraid of life infused us with confidence when things look grim. I’ve taken that with me through excruciating transitions in life.

      It may seem to you that what you need for homeschooling successfully is a two-parent household but I don’t think so.

      Perhaps what we need (and this is a new thought for me that started last January) is a bigger dose of self-confidence than the fear of our circumstances. Once someone is determined they find a way. But first you need at least a certain amount of self knowledge and know that you can turn the situation around if you don’t surrender to it.

      My husband and I barely had our 5 year anniversary. It’s been a short marriage full of disgustingly happy times and probably a bit more of heartbreaking times. I think we’ve really hit our stride now or at least it feels like it. But we were gearing up for a separation at some point and all I could think of was how I would pull off homeschooling. It wouldn’t be easy but if we couldn’t make the marriage work I reasoned it was healthier for our kid to live in a peaceful household than to live with the gut wrenching feeling of the parents hating each other.

      Look, some people can’t fathom uprooting their lives and transplanting to another country 2600 miles away from their tight knit family and community without knowing anyone or the language. But that’s my story and now the world seems small to me.

      The same way that to most healthy people it seems easy to leave an abusive relationship at the first signs it seems doable to me to unschool even in a one parent household. Probably because it’s easy to see the exit when you’re not drowning in the situation.

      You’re kids may be past school age but you have so much to offer. Education doesn’t stop. Ever. And children always need their parents intensely. We make a huge mistake thinking, and worse, acting like people need their parents when they’re young. People need their parents ALWAYS.

      It just looks different at every stage of life.

      And a person as beautiful as you has so much to offer.

  21. DB
    DB says:

    Good luck Karelys! I did the natural thing too with baby #1 – was 11 days late – then finally cracked and got induced. I still had natural labor and everything was great in spite of the induction, so don’t worry. :-)

    • Karelys
      Karelys says:

      Thank you!!

      We had a beautiful baby girl in the water on Monday at 4:45 am. It was awesome! Hard work but I’m floored by how amazing everything was and continues to be.

      The birth of my first was free of complications but it was extremely hard.

      I am so thankful to have given this gift to experience such a good birth because it’s very possible this will be our last kid.

      I was very fearful to have a terrible induction. I think I’m just a very anxious person. I need to chill out :)

      • Penelope Trunk
        Penelope Trunk says:

        Congratulations! I’m so happy for you, Karelys!!! I look forward to watching your family-of-four life unfold — in your comments and your guest posts and your quirky smart emails you send me at all hours of the day!

        Penelope

  22. cindy
    cindy says:

    This post has been on my mind a lot today. All day actually. I’m having a problem with a few things…. Karelys obviously has a lot of respect around here. So, I want to give her thoughts serious consideration. And, for awhile I was telling myself that since everyone respected her opinion so much, I must be missing something. But, I don’t think I am.

    It is my understanding that Karelys is the mom of a toddler, is pregnant with her second child and works outside the home as the main financial support while her husband stays home. So, this is all untested theory for her at this point, right? Her child is too young to really have put all of this to serious test. And, even if he were older, she’s not the one in the trenches. This is where you all can jump right in and tell me what I’m missing. But, it looks to me as if she hasn’t lived this yet.

    I can understand how someone who works outside of the home might think it’s “crazy” for someone who has been the stay-at-home-parent for 10 years to celebrate the day when all three of her children finally attend school at the same time (I am referring to the link to the Momastery blog). Give it another ten years and see if you don’t understand a tiny bit of what that woman was feeling. It’s not terrible. It just is. And, it doesn’t mean she doesn’t love being with them and caring for them.

    To go back to the original question, “Is it normal for parents to put their own needs first”. Seriously, putting everyone else’s needs before my own was the worst thing I did to myself for too long. It wasn’t until I learned to “put my own oxygen mask on first” that I truly became a healthy mother and person. I do need to take care of my needs first. And, that doesn’t mean I put aside my children’s needs. It means, I’m giving myself what I need so I can give the best of myself to them, and everything else in my life.

    • Teryn
      Teryn says:

      You aren’t taking crazy pills. I would like to see Penelope have more guest posts from people who are actually homeschooling. One of the reasons I respect her blog is because she is in the trenches, homeschooling two kids with unique needs and honest about the fact that she is on medication to deal with the stress of being with her kids all day. When she has an opinion, even if I don’t agree with it I respect it because it comes from a place of her own experiences. Even though her guest bloggers have the same opinions I find them grating because they are based on hopes for the future, no semblance of reality. My sister was an expert on parenting before she was a parent. It’s easy to think you have it figured out when you have never done it.

      • bea
        bea says:

        I personally do not relate to all that much of Penelope’s education blog, but I read it regularly anyway. And I read all the comments and have come to appreciate the variety of perspectives. I support homeschooling and unschooling, but I send my only daughter to a Montessori school. Maybe one day we’ll homeschool, maybe not. My kiddo is now very vocal about wanting her opinion to count in family decisions, especially ones that concern her, and she loves small, community-oriented learning environments so much, we may continue to send her to some type of external school-type place, well, all the way through college if that’s how she chooses to chart her course. It’s expensive. We can afford it because we both work. I work from home, but it’s as rigorous as any office job. My husband works nights outside the home. We’re lucky because our schedules have meant that one of us can be with our daughter when the other is working. Also, we bought a house down the street and moved my inlaws there, so we have completely accessible childcare from a loving grandmother and grandfather all the time if we need it or want it. In fact, the only other primary care-givers my daughter has ever had was her grandparents. We also live in a town with all of my husbands immediate family, and have a very family-like network of friends, who all help each other out and hang out together and take responsibility for each other. This is the environment where my child is living and learning and growing up, and I see a loving, happy, delightful girl as a result. This is the point of reference from which I read all of the opinions stated here, a homeschooling/unschooling blog that routinely says schooling is no more than daycare. Reading that all the time still doesn’t make me doubt the path we’ve chosen. And it doesn’t put me off of this blog.

        That said, I still find snippets of information I value and can use all over the place. And even if I don’t find it personally relevant, I may find it interesting and so it affords me a momentary intellectual diversion, which I also appreciate tremendously.

        I say all this say to bolster a point that I promise I’m about to make: It did occur to me when I read Karelys’s guest post that she is very early in her journey. And her journey is no doubt very different from mine and doesn’t speak to my personal situation at all, really. But I like that she’s firmly established her point of reference for parenting and educating her children. I think her process of challenging her assumptions and then arriving at a place where her and her husband are comfortable is a mature, admirable approach. Even if values shift or are modified along the way, and let’s face it, that always seems to happen, they seem to have a set a precedent for identifying and defining their objectives and expectations so they will be able to adjust.

        Also, I like seeing a picture of you, Karelys. You have revealed so much of yourself here that I hadn’t realized I developed a pretty firm picture of you in my mind, and it wasn’t far off from what you to look like. Pretty cool.

        • Karelys
          Karelys says:

          Bea, right at this point I’m convinced that unschooling is about self-directed learning (and that includes using tools that work best for you). At some point before I’ve mentioned that school can be that if the person is using it to reach her goals rather than just submitting to it.
          I haven’t fully come full circle on this idea and I’m open to change Always. It’s too exhausting to hold on to old ideas even when it’s evident it’s time for a change.
          I am such a fan of Montessori! I know that every school can look a bit different from each other depending on the implementation of the principles. And for me, regular school is not the tool I’d use for education.

          However, I think, isn’t it still unschooling when my child is learning at his nana’s house because we need a break or a date or he just wants to be over there?

          Let’s say we lose the awesome structure we got going on and we need childcare outside family and friends and my husband needs a job to help support the family financially. If the kid is young enough Id love a good Montessori school. Or I’d probably hire a nanny and continue with plans of unschooling. Isn’t it still unschooling whether the kid is directing the learning with the parent at home 24-7 or if the parents need help with childcare?

          I think this is mostly about how life is handled. After all, adults are self directed learners because no one is there to spoon feed us and force is to continue educating ourselves.

          My friend’s sister is moving to town with plans to open Montessori school. I’m thrilled and want to help. Montessori would’ve probably been an awesome structure for me as a kid because my personality needs that. I thrive in that type of environment if I’m left with enough room for some autonomy.

          I don’t know what this could mean for my family. But if I see that one of my children is like me and a Montessori environment is best for him/her then yeah, I’d go ahead and do it in a heart beat. Because unschooling is about choosing your way to education.

    • Mountain Mama
      Mountain Mama says:

      Cindy- You have captured my thoughts exactly. Being full-time at home with several children is a different ball of wax than working outside the home. Just is. It is irrelevant which is easier/harder, it is just different.

    • karelys
      karelys says:

      I didn’t write the title, Penelope did.

      I assume the Monastery lady loves her children so much. Even people with horrid mental issues love their children intensely. Very few people feel no affection for their offspring.

      So I don’t think it’s crazy to be excited when your kids leave and you get a break. I think it’s crazy how we live life with blinders and hardly ever question if there’s another way.

      My husband stays at home. You know why? Because I couldn’t handle it.

      I stayed home for 6 months while I had awful post partum depression because I knew it was the best for my kid. Choosing to find work was an excruciating decision that meant I was putting the gas mask on myself first so I could then figure out the best way to be there for my family.

      My husband’s personality type is best fitted to be a military strategist not a caregiver. I don’t see him as a caregiver but more of a facilitator of life with my toddler. Whatever he’s doing he is doing great thanks to skills he’s honed at keeping his cool, time management and above all, unabashed self care.

      I haven’t lived life with a 5 year old at home. I have lived life with a newborn that refused to be sat down (I had to constantly carry this huge baby if I wanted to avoid piercing high pitch cries).

      Maybe if my situation and emotional maturity where better I could’ve pulled off being a stay at home parent but I was not about to sacrifice everyone’s wellbeing waiting for me to go from caterpillar to Martha-Stewart-butterfly.

      We never even asked ourselves who was the best fitted parent to stay home. I was the woman and I had the boobs for breastfeeding so we never questioned it.

      Thankfully we’re in a better spot in life. But life is like surfing crazy waves. At least that’s how I anticipate mine. And I’m always looking 5 years ahead like I’m planning for next week. I think that’s what trips people up sometimes. They make plans that rely on specific circumstances to work. Whether it be homeschooling or staying married or whatever.

      We make certain decisions that although easier if we were married, never go laid off, never lost our health, etc. These decisions are made with a design to function despite circumstances that make it easier or harder.

      • bea
        bea says:

        We have this in common, Karelys: I had a baby that wouldn’t be put down for the first six months of her life, lest she cry a cry that could raise the roof right off the house. We wore her until she could crawl, basically. At the time it seemed stressful, but looking back on it, it was lovely having her on us all the time. We joke and say we had a 15 month pregnancy.

        Also, I had to work after she was born, not for financial reasons, but because I needed the intellectual stimulation. My career was just starting to take off and I didn’t want to lose my momentum, so I basically started back up 2 weeks after she was born. I didn’t have to leave the house on a daily basis, which greatly helped. I just knew that I would have to continue to build a career that I loved so much (still do), and I don’t regret one day of it. Of course, my friends say that because I didn’t have to go to an office job or work outside of my home office, that it’s not really like I went back to work. I suppose there is some truth to it in that childcare was never an issue. But I’d counter with how “leaving work at the office” has never been an option for me. It’s all relative I suppose.

        I don’t look at the admission that we needed something other than staying home as a lack of emotional maturity or anything like that. I see it as an artifact of personality type. And I see my situation in particular as being a combination of luck and careful strategizing and planning combined, so that I was able to feel good about the work/child dynamic in our family.

        At the end of the day, I think we’re all trying to do the best we can with what we’ve got going.

    • AP
      AP says:

      Your post is much of what I was thinking, too, Cindy. When I only had my son, there was no question that we would homeschool. But then I had twins and we went from “can go anywhere and do anything” to “OMG, do you have the twins’ nursing pillow and the stroller and the snacks and diapers and dear Lord, don’t forget the wipes!” I mean, seriously, when you have three or more, it’s insane. I’d love to homeschool my kids, and it seems we will be doing that very soon. But, my kids fight and it worries me. When there are three, there is always an odd man out and if there’s nothing to fight about, they’ll make something up. And they often don’t want to do the same stuff. My son (now 9) loves the Planetarium and the Museum of Science and Industry. He wants to read everything at the museums and really get involved. And he wants my undivided attention because when it comes to geekery, I’m your Huckleberry. My daughters (now 7) want to look at the baby chicks at the museum and then go home. And they make it very clear that they want to go home. Twins can be very naughty!!! They are definitely partners in crime. It’s funny, but it’s also not. So, how do I, one person, give all three kids what they need in order to explore the things they love and not view learning as a struggle for Mom’s attention or as a competition among siblings? My daughters also will not be dropped off anywhere other than their current school (private, not public). And even school is a struggle sometimes. I absolutely respect their fear of being left somewhere for an activity, so I don’t make them go or pressure them to go to activities without me. But, it makes it hard to give my son the attention he needs. My son goes to a robot workshop and that gives me time to focus on activities with my girls. It’s hard. And I never feel like I’m doing a stellar job at parenting. So, while I respect the post, I can’t relate to it at all. Talk to me about dealing with the fighting and tell me how I can be sure my kids get the opportunity to explore topics in depth? How do I make sure my 2 extroverts get what they need? (I am introverted (INTJ) as is one of my daughters). I also have a business, so how do I get my work done AND break up fights AND make sure they are doing something other than staring into Netflix all day long? And the most important one: How can i get my husband to get involved??! Of course, there are things my kids and I do together and it’s wonderful…we all take horseback riding lessons, we love the beach, swim lessons, etc. But, my days are often 50/50. Half the time it’s joy, half the time I want to scream. I miss them terribly when they’re at school, but i am also often thankful that it is quiet.

  23. Victoria
    Victoria says:

    I don’t think it is acceptable enough for parents to put their own needs first in America. I think they should. I think it’s crazy to drive yourself (as parents) into a bad situation in order to give your child the very very best situation when at least 5 other situations would let the child be perfectly fine as well. Who you are is going to influence how your child is much more than any choices you make.

    • karelys
      karelys says:

      Perhaps the problem is not to put your needs first. Because American culture is individualistic we view this dynamic of competing needs as “either you or I.”

      The work world and just the real world in general functions in a more interdependent assumption that your success enables mine so let’s team up.

      I come from a communal culture. Lots of aspects in it drive me nuts – like the lack of importance the individual has over the group. But interdependence appeals to me because, in this case, regular school is not conductive to a thriving life for myself, my husband or our children. So we are removing it from the picture. Whatever challenge comes from homeschooling we’ll tackle based on the solutions that are good for everyone.

      But even perfect scenarios are achieved by giving important things up. And believe it or not most of the time that’s our ego.

      • TLH
        TLH says:

        I like this comment a lot. That’s what we aim for in our family – balance – where everyone may not get everything they want, but they’re getting enough. We’re not perfect at it, but I hope that in the end, my kids will learn that the world isn’t there to cater to them, nor should they be expected to sacrifice everything for the world. It’s all about give and take.

      • Victoria
        Victoria says:

        I actually agree with this comment perfectly. But the title of the post and the post itself certainly seems to say that parents who don’t sacrifice themselves on behalf of their kids should be socially ostracized and punished. Which I disagree with a lot. Even though I’m very open to homeschooling. But as you’ve said elsewhere that’s because it can be the best choice for the entire family.

        Meeting kids needs, including and maybe especially, their emotional needs is the responsibility of the parents and I am horrified by those who don’t. But there is a big difference between that and obsessing over what’s the very very best perfect life for your child when such a thing doesn’t even exist.

    • Erin
      Erin says:

      Hi J – Penelope is a terrific writer, so that’s an awesome compliment!

      Also, all the posts that appear on Penelope’s blog get edited by the same guy. So that is probably part of the reason you recognize a continuity in style!

      ^_^ Erin

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