This is a guest post from Sarah Faulkner. She is a homeschooling mom in Washington state. She has five kids, ages 14, 13, 10, 7, and 3.
Sometimes I dream about who I would be if I sent my kids to a traditional school. Would I be more relaxed? Put together? Would we parents have more friends? Would I be thinner? This weekend we went RV camping at the Pacific ocean, next to a playground and a three-family reunion of some sorts. They were nice people. I wondered what I looked like to them. The frazzled woman who should send her kids to school for a break? The great mom that has it all together, or the mom that doesn’t care about her kids?
When I look in the mirror, I see a tired woman fighting against the grain.
My fourth son had a tough childhood, fighting against health problems left over from a mom with a meth addiction. All that disrupted the bonding process—now we are trying to bond. He feels no stranger danger and wanted to visit our neighbors in their family reunion. I explained to him how he needed to first check with me before visiting any stranger. I explained the dangers. And then he went over to them, unannounced. Like a command sergeant I barked for him to return. The group of laughing moms (who he had been chatting up) stared at me. I was a crazy, controlling mom, in their eyes.
We went to the beach. My daughter played and played. I began to relax and feel like a normal mom again, not a homeschooler mom who worries she is screwing over her kids, not a public school mom who has free time to keep herself together, not a psycho mom who screams and yells. Until my daughter pooped. She has issues, too. She poops to get my attention. At 3 ½, she can poop in the potty for everyone but me. Every time she revenge-poops my heart slowly dies because I really want us to be bonded. I don’t want to be the mom with the kid who revenge poops. I want to have that fantastic mother-daughter bond. I want to be a “Friends with her Kids” mom.
I take her back to the RV campsite and shower her down. I make her stay by me instead of playing on the playground. I tell her I can’t trust her not to poop on the playground. It is rude to do that. She must stay with me. (Not the first time for this consequence, she knew this was it). The other moms walk by and stare at me as I tell my daughter to sit. I’m anti-social mom.
My oldest eventually makes friends with their oldest. I tell myself I should go over and talk to them, maybe help my son in his friendship endeavors. My husband befriends them. I don’t. I am in a huge control fight with my daughter. I want to cry because my heart is hurting from all the revenge poop. I want to beg them for understanding, I want to show them I am a good mom. This is more drama than people care to have when first meeting someone. So, I hang back feeling ashamed for the way I perceive they see me. “Feel sorry for the Kids” Mom.
I feel this way with homeschooling all the time: Others must see me as someone I am not. I wonder why I can’t homeschool just because I like the idea? I wonder why other parents send their kids to school. I try to imagine life with breaks from my kids, with freedom, but in the end I just feel lonely. And I am “Mom who likes her kids” mom.