Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Epiphanies, pee sheets, and Modona.

When you haven't heard much from me in a few weeks that a sure fire sign life has entered into crazy once more. It's almost never the same crazy, and the crazy is never really gone, but sometimes it slams you and you're (read: I) am fumbling for a while as I try to get through it.

The crazy this time around has been fueled by a sweet little choleric named Mary. And I'm not joking when I say sweet. She is a dreamboat most of time. She is better than me with the little ones. More engaging, more cheerful. She is creative and funny and a poet and a songwriter and will still crawl in bed to snuggle me in the morning for as long as I'll stay. She's also got the worst temper I have ever, ever encountered. She cray. She be cray.

Did I ever tell you about when she learned how to drop an F bomb from our sweet little neglected neighbor boy? Well she did. When she was 3. And she would scream it at us. I mean scream. Hammering the walls with both feet while on time-out "I FUG YOU! I FUUUUGGGGG YOU!"

No, really.

I remember looking at Kirby and saying, "Oh my God we are THOSE people. How did we become those people?? We are a nice, happy family!" I imagined getting a call from a sweet homeschooling mother of zillion letting me know what Mary just taught her children. Humble pie in a triple dose.

Thankfully, she eventually stopped that and forgot all about it and no innocent children were harmed. But her crazy is always a little there. And lately it's felt more explosive and rash than ever. She has yelled hurtful things and WWE'ed her brother (jumped through an open window to beat him up!) and even smashed her sister's piggy bank with a broom stick. G A N G S T A. She has been... special. And as frustrating as it is, I love her for it because I see her really struggle. Things are not easy for her and she knows it and everyone knows it. She is very self-aware and even while firing a streak of accusations at others she can still communicate how when she feels mad she's like a match that is uncontrollably ablaze in a split second. She can also apologize, she can really, really apologize. After she has had some time and some space to gather herself, she will march right up to whomever she hurt and tearfully and heroically say she is sorry. She will give you all her money for a new piggy bank.

Anyway, we are working hard over here despite things feeling a bit fragile. Mary and I went to go see Annie live down in LA two weeks ago and that was super good for us. I am making sure to grab her and nuzzle her and talk it out as much as I can and things are getting better. Best of all she is learning how to reign it in. Which is like, the entire goal of my parenting right now, before she goes out into the world and tears shit up.

As you can imagine, Fike Academy of Awesome has suffered. The girl has been argumentative and stubborn (choleric mom + choleric daughter + school = WIN DIE). It seems like the other big kids have been feeding off of her a bit, too. Everyone is a little more fighty, everyone is a little more back talky, everyone is a little more... special.

Side note but they are ALL asking if I'm pregnant again yet and I'm like YOU JUST RAN AWAY 3 TIMES AND OUR LIFE IS IN SHAMBLES HELLO!

About a month ago, I had an epiphany while pulling pee-sheets off of someone's bed in the morning. I was yanking at the fitted sheet and quickly bundling up the wet blanket while simultaneously hollering at someone else to grab their grammar book and begin at the table when it hit me - there are mothers in the world who JUST have to wash the pee sheets. They just wash the pee sheets and they DON'T teach grammar at the same time. It's like I had never considered this was a thing before.

And for the first time ever, it sounded really, really nice.

Two weeks ago I met with the principal of a local parish school and we are headed for a mid-year closure of Fike's Kinda Sucky Academy. I'm not mourning it at all. I really thought I would but I'm not. We had a really good run. I feel really ready to be mom-who-doesn't-teach-you-phonics-rules for now. I'm sure we will wrestle with a million other things but one of them won't be school. And I think it'll be a welcome change for everyone.

The girls are PUMPED. It's kind of everything they've always hoped for so don't worry. I think Mary will be less resistant, more excited, more compelled to be awesome, and all the other good things. It's not a you are having a difficult time so I'm shipping you away type of thing. It's more of a man, this is very stressful every day and all the toddlers do is watch cartoons while I beg you to do one math page type of thing.

Which, you know, sucks.

Anyway, will you pray for me as I sort this out and make big, final decisions? And pray for my Mary, too, as she is sorting out her little 7 year old universe.
I know she's gonna kick ass as a grown up if we could just not all keel over and die in the meantime.


I'm so curious to know when and how you felt like your homeschooling days were over, if you have. Please share!

64 comments:

  1. Mary sounds awesome.

    And you sound truly satisfied and comfortable with this decision, like it is being made for all the right reasons (better for everyone!). You don't sound afraid or defensive or like you're giving up, which means this is a victory, a smart step in the right direction. Good for you, Blythe. Good luck!

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  2. 7 year olds, man. Mine has never been a particularly fly-off-the-handle type, but she has a very very short fuse and lots of yelling these days. And she's 6, actually, not 7 yet, so maybe you're on the cusp of growing out of it? Not growing out of her personality, per se, but out of the age 6/7 extra temper.

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  3. Cracking up at the typo (I -assume) for fitted sheet changed into fitted shit. Dying!

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  4. Hahahahjaaaaaaaaaa!!! Dying too

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  5. Ok Blythe can we get Jordan and Mary together for REAL. They'd either absolutely annihilate each other or be absolute besties. We are having these issues oh so frequently (read: 12 times before 730 am) with Jordan and I feel like I'm failing her...constantly. When the fog clears for you, I'd LOVE a post about some of your choleric hacks. Prayers for you and sweet, fiery Mare.

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    1. Yes, please a choleric hack post when the fog clears! I'm pretty sure Conor is a choleric-sanguine, and Ryan is a melancholic-choleric and OH MY GOSH YOU GUYS.

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  6. I put all my kids in school a year and a half ago!!! It's been wonderful!!! Yes I wanted them memorizing Ode to aa Greecian Urn and just generally having control over my kids education but our journey involved God asking me to let go of the reigns and it has been so good for me to just be mom! I am much more energized to help them because I've have more rest during the day and our house is more ordered etc. sometimes I miss certain aspects of homeschooling and worry, but my husband reminds me how much we are all thriving as a result of our decision. The important thing to remember is there is no perfect education scenario, everyone comes with ups and downs. For us, school has increased the peace in our home! As a side note, we have kept up history and literature at home by having a general time frame as a theme for the year.. American, Ancient.. It's a fun way to keep the atmosphere of learning alive in our home without all the stress face. Prayers!

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  7. Also book recommendation: "the Tempermant God Gave Your Child" really helpful!

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    1. I second this! I haven't read that specific book, but "The Temperament God Gave You" is awesome!!!

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    2. There is a New Zealand parenting book called "Of course I love you - now go to your room!" It has a big section on the personalities and is really geared to this type of thing. SO GOOD

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  8. Also I have a long story about my laborious decision to put my kids in school.. A blog post when I get my act together!

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  9. Ahaha! Dying over the broomstick episode. I once wrote "I hate you Mom" in giant letters in MUD on the side of my parents' white house. We have a great relationship now :). Hang in there!

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  10. This is fantastic- so great that I read it twice, laughing out loud both times.
    Good for you on your decision. It sounds like you're confident with your decision. And given that I'm potty training my two year old right now, dealing with just pee and no grammar certainly sounds like enough! :)

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  11. Thank you for sharing, I have a 7 year old and just these last few days have been very concerned with his temper...but reading these comments, maybe it is an age thing as well?

    As for the schooling....I always say, it's not a moral issue, do whatever will be the best step for your family and relationship with your children.
    (I only have three kids and we are soldiering on in home school....for now......)
    God bless
    Julia (in England)
    xx

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  12. Big fans of Catholic school here, five of our 6 are there and number 6 will start as soon as he turns 3. I have to work, so my kid's schooling choice is pretty easy for me to make. Lurve it.

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  13. I send my young kids to elementary school, but once my oldest became a teenager, I asked what he would prefer doing now that he is old enough to be more independent in his learning. We gave it a shot and it has been working.
    He has been homeschooling since he was 12 (he is 14 now) and once we found rhythm, it has been fairly smooth sailing and he gets all the religious stuff in his education now. :) Hang in there!! Little kids do great in school. Sure you'll miss them, but it really does take a load off of your shoulders when you have other babies running around in diapers.
    Teaching is full time gig, and unless you have consistent help around the home, or less kids to teach, it can overwhelm anyone quickly!
    Best of luck to you and the kiddos!

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  14. I put my three older kids in school last January when I was very pregnant with number 5. It just got to be too much for me, and school was fun for no one. They did great and are still going to school, but I do miss them being home (but I don't miss homeschooling that much!).

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  15. You know what's crazy? When I went from homeschooling to Catholic schooling, one of the things I was really excited for was having a locker and getting to see multiple teachers a day. Weird, I know. I loved being homeschooled, and my mom was a great teacher (though we were pretty much self-taught as we reached older elementary school-age), but I was just really excited for those "normal kid" experiences. My siblings and I did school for 2 years, but my parents were really feeling the tug back to homeschooling, and I went onto the local Catholic high school. So far, this system has been working well for them-homeschool and then Catholic high school-and I think they have all like it a lot. I think it's really cool that your family has openly made this decision! Every single family is different, and so each family has different needs and ways in which they should educate their children! I will be praying for you guys as you finalize all of this. Exciting adventures ahead!

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  16. We have only ever educated our children at our local Parish School until 8th, and a private Catholic high school. We have all had a wonderful experience. My most difficult child from birth is now 16 (!!) and if I could have imagined when he was 7 (or 2 or 5 or 9) that things could have gotten so much better as he got older, I would never have believed it. But we just gave him strict boundaries, helped him overcome frustration, and loved him! He has shown me that motherhood is a cross, but such a loving and joyful experience too. If I had never had him (with his unique personality) I would not have ever truly understood this.

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  17. No comment other than I think I just looked into Evie's future...

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  18. So happy for you that it is a welcome change! Praying for you lots.

    And I read your post thinking THANK YOU! THANK YOU for letting me know that my children are not the only ones throwing absolutely insane, insane, insane tantrums.

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  19. I have an angry son and many many novenas to St. Monica have definitely helped. Plus he's older and just realizes he needs to control himself. So have heart! I have never homeschooled but we do love our little parish school. Big puffy heart love! (And no, it's not perfect but it is perfect for us.) Good luck!

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    1. if u want to put your kids in school, just do it (w/ prayer & husband's approval)- but if u just want more time for laundry- how about u take the $ u would put to school & use it for weekly maid & math tutor?

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  21. When you leave the homeschooling community, you will realize- this is how the majority of people with children live their lives! Homeschoolers are the minority.

    How will the parish school address the 7 year old outbursts? Or do you think they were caused by homeschooling and they will go away? lots of prayers for this change!

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  22. Wow, first an epidural, then kindergarten, now everyone's in school, what's next, scheduled c/s?? ;-) My 7y/o sounds a lot like yours at home with me, but at school he's a star student. I've had more than 1 teacher tell me that they don't like it when he's absent because the class doesn't run as well without him.

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    1. All that to say, she'll likely do great for a teacher.

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  23. Prayers for you as you make this transition!!

    (And also, I have have a very choleric little guy who is about to turn 2. So very sweet and cheerful, and such. a. temper. No F-bombs yet but he does like to yank the hairs off his sweet blonde head by the fistful when he's angry ...)

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  24. Another book recommendation... The Highly Sensitive Child. It has helped me a lot to understand my, umm, "difficult" child with the screaming and the tantrums and the screaming. Seriously. So, so good.

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  25. How has it been with the kids starting parish school later in the year? I am on the verge of doing the same, as I feel completely burnt out from homeschool and am experiencing the same stuff. Worried how my husband will react but it is just a bad day every day:(

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  26. I WAS that cray 7 year old (Ultra Choleric + some melancholic) and I just wanted to say MAD PROPS. I know I caused my momma so much heartache and so, so many tears and yet I turned out and we're now close friends (though 13-14 was the worst for me). You're doing an awesome job, just loving on her and trying to channel her fiery spirit! I hope I'm as awesome of a mom as you are one day! (No babies for me + the hubs yet!)

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  28. My gracious, that sounds similar to my 4 yo- intense outbursts (she once said she wanted to rip up all of the church bulletins because she didn't get one herself-???) but really knows how to apologize and can be as sweet as can be.
    And I'm not sure of the exact posts where she talks about it but I love this blog and the mom behind used to homeschool and now has her kids in public school. http://www.thelittlehousethatgrew.com/

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  29. Good for you! We can only do so much and still keep sanity! Love your blog, and welcome to my life...kind of, as my 3 school aged children all attend (public) school, my 2 little ones are home with dad, and then I take "second shift" after working at a high school (teaching other people's kids lol)....the Holy Spirit guides us to what is best for all involved☺

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  30. Good for you! We can only do so much and still keep sanity! Love your blog, and welcome to my life...kind of, as my 3 school aged children all attend (public) school, my 2 little ones are home with dad, and then I take "second shift" after working at a high school (teaching other people's kids lol)....the Holy Spirit guides us to what is best for all involved☺

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  31. Well, if you think what she learned from the neighbor boy was bad...there will be lots more of the same and worse at any kind of school!

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    1. And in real life. But I guess we should keep our kids away from that too.

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  32. A great modern Catholic writer/educator once said regarding homeschooling: If all you do is stay home and play cards all day, your children will still be better off than if you sent them to school.

    I do not remember his name, but he said this to a friend of mine at a homeschooling conference and I never forgot it. I hope it can help others too.

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    1. Genevieve, is it truly helpful and loving to encourage someone to take the "easier" path? Aren't we to take the "path less traveled" to make it to heaven?

      All. homeschoolers. have. rough. times. Many question, often, if they should give up. God has given parents the grace to educate their children, through the graces of marriage. Is it right to "give up" on our marriage when it gets difficult or one's marriage isn't perfect? No! God allows the struggles of homeschooling to help mom and child grow...in faith and in many other amazing ways. We just have to accept our crosses, and allow Him to mold us into the beautiful souls He wills us to be. Praying for you in this important decision!

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    2. What's not helpful is implying that kids that go to school learn less than kids who stay home and play cards all day. That's a really rude comment to leave for someone who just wrote about her decision to send her kids to school. I hope my schooled kids learn better manners than this homeschooling mom.

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    3. Annelise, that's an interesting quote... Why do you think kids will be better off playing cards at home all day rather than at school? You must have some idea otherwise you wouldn't have posted. Thanks!

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    4. Mary, yes it is an interesting quote, and the gentleman who shared it was a highly educated conservative Catholic who taught at a major university and penned columns for a national Catholic newspaper. His point was that we as parents have the eternal salvation of our children's souls as our primary responsibility; and, we all know what filth the culture rams down our throats, especially in public schools, and yes even in private Catholic schools, if not through the teaching of false doctrine, then through the negative and harmful influences of children who have been exposed to evil and immorality. Thus, when encouraging my friend to choose homeschooling, he said that even if all they did was play cards all day, they would be better off than if they were in school and exposed to the forces of evil that would undermine their faith and every good thing their parents were trying to inculcate at home.

      I am sure he was not endorsing playing cards all day LOL, but if that were by chance all you were able to do...then yes, morally and spiritually, it would be better.

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    5. P.S. And now that I am married and a homeschooling mother of four myself, I value this advice all the more. Some days all we can accomplish is "playing cards"...or PBS Kids marathon viewing, LOL.

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    6. Oh ok, I see the angle you're coming from now, thanks! Just curious, because I do understand the fears of evil in the world, but isn't it better for kids to learn about facing that when they're still under their parents' guidance and direction? What will happen when they turn 18 I wonder... Also I tend to believe the best of people, not the worst, and so trust that my children will find those good people at school and not be too influenced by the bad kids. And even if we are faced in schools with a ton of watered down politically correct nonsense, at the end of the day you can still guide your child in what's true and what isn't.

      Another thought, if God gave us rational minds, then we're not doing our children justice if we're not educating them,right? I definitely know what it's like to need breaks now and then, but if schooling them at home is too much and kids aren't meeting age appropriate learning requirements, I do believe sending them to a school is the best option and therefore I respectfully disagree with you and this university professor.

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    7. PBS marathon and playing cards somehow trumps the "evils" of a private Catholic education or even a homeschool co-op? Gonna have to disagree and say you might be doing your children a disservice by sheltering them and ultimately putting them far behind their peers. Even if you send them to school you are still their parent and can control and enhance the home environment to be one of faith and charity.

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    8. PBS marathon and playing cards somehow trumps the "evils" of a private Catholic education or even a homeschool co-op? Gonna have to disagree and say you might be doing your children a disservice by sheltering them and ultimately putting them far behind their peers. Even if you send them to school you are still their parent and can control and enhance the home environment to be one of faith and charity.

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    9. I completely agree with you Mary. I have a 3 y.o, 2 y.o., and a 4 month old. I would love love to homeschool but I just don't think it's in the cards for us. I'm so afraid of what my children will be surrounded b, but my husband says what better way for them go defend their beliefs and instill their relationship with God in their hearts than to do it now, starting from this age, and under our guidance. If we can provide them with the tools go make good, wholesome choices, we should not be afraid of this world and public schools. It at least helps me to think this way when thinking about their future in school!

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  33. Hi Blythe,
    This is the first time I've commented on your blog. I found it though Catholic All Year and have been following all your posts. On this one, I feel compelled to make a comment / suggestion to consider. It could be the greatest thing putting your big kids in school. Who knows. However, just want to share a solution I came to this past spring. As the school year was winding down, I felt really unhappy with having accomplished so little with my big kids (ages 7, 8) I also have one kinder age, as well as a toddler. I just felt pulled in a million directions all the time and felt like I was always torn between housework and homeschooling (the pee sheets and the grammar in your example), in addition to the toddler care. My house was either a mess, or I felt I was failing my big kids and ignoring my toddler, but I just couldn't keep up with everything. I came to the decision that for this school year I either had to face reality and put them in school ... OR drumroll.. hire someone to help with the housework and baby care. Financially it works out to be about the same. So, we decided to try hiring someone. It was a big awkward thing to consider, but it has made ALL the difference. Now I can be the mum I want to be with my kids! I had time to sit and sew Halloween costumes this fall (first time), there is quiet in the morning when I teach them, my laundry is being done in the background, my toddler gets taken for a walk and read to, the vacuuming gets done. I can take children out individually or a couple at a time to do special things, like swimming. I feel very fortunate to have this help and I know not everyone can, but I did figure out that it costs the same as putting them in our parish school, which is what we were considering doing. I have my helper come in four mornings per week from 9-1. We take Friday off and the house is all clean for the weekend already. I have come to the conclusion that if I were no longer to to have this help, then I would really have to consider school again. I know there are lots of homeschool mums out there who seem to pull it all off, but I'm not one of them! Anyway, I just noticed that most of the comments to this post come from mums who put their kids in parish school and love it, so I thought I'd throw out another angle to consider. Whatever keeps mum sane and everyone mostly happy (incl husband) is best!

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  34. oh my word i am DEAD. You crack me up. Keep on writing, Blythe!! XOOXO from Istanbul...-Kim Imai

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  35. I have definitely been through phases like you're in. We've considered regular school. Ultimately, we were always at peace with staying the course. I guess my 2 cents would be... God will speak to your heart! If you're at peace with putting your kids in school, then that must be what you're meant to do! If it doesn't feel right later, you can always change your mind! Hang in there! Your daughter sounds much like mine... Who is a really great 14 year old now. She once screamed at me during a play date at a friend's house, "I hate you more than the devil." Awesome. It was because it was time to leave and take off the Snow White dress. :)

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  36. We put the top 5 is school 2 years ago when the oldest was in 8th. I can point to 2 reasons why. First, I felt really bad for the 3 youngest while I was homeschooling. There was a lot of shushing them and not doing fun preschool things with them. I hired help to watch them which always felt really wrong. Second, I began to feel crushed by the responsibility of making a meaningful day for all of them. Every subject, every craft every project every outing all the planning. ...it was all me and it just felt huge. I wanted to send them out and then receive them back into a peaceful, organized pretty home with a mom that was ready to be a support but not the whole show. For us, it was an awesome change. We are blessed by an extraordinary school as well. GOD BLESS you and all your little people!

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  37. We put the top 5 is school 2 years ago when the oldest was in 8th. I can point to 2 reasons why. First, I felt really bad for the 3 youngest while I was homeschooling. There was a lot of shushing them and not doing fun preschool things with them. I hired help to watch them which always felt really wrong. Second, I began to feel crushed by the responsibility of making a meaningful day for all of them. Every subject, every craft every project every outing all the planning. ...it was all me and it just felt huge. I wanted to send them out and then receive them back into a peaceful, organized pretty home with a mom that was ready to be a support but not the whole show. For us, it was an awesome change. We are blessed by an extraordinary school as well. GOD BLESS you and all your little people!

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  38. I feel ya. I was that kid. Now I'm getting payback in the form of my oldest - my 8y.o. It is cray. Every day. We are soldiering on in our 2nd yr of HSing but to each their own!

    She was also cray in pre-k thru 1st during her stint in cath school. Homework was a straight up nightmare with her.

    I do second the hired-help idea! Jut had babe #5 and needed serious help. A teenager from our coop comes to clean twice a month. And I love it! Feel like I can actually breathe and am not living in squalor anymore. Fo real!

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  40. We have a cray-cray named after the Blessed Mother too. Huh.

    I am a first-time commenter, just noting that my life is paralleling yours this year. I call it my "abandonding long-held parenting principles when the sh*t hits the fan" year. I am almost due with my 6th, and it broke me -- we quit homeschooling (for now, I say, for now, but who really knows?) in favor of the parish school, and I quit home birthing in favor of a hospital birth. You know all those blogs that encourage you to pick a "word" for your year in January? I chose surrender. Joke's on me!

    For the most part, things are working out. There are a lot of things I find disappointing about school, but the kids are mostly happy there and I am a much, much calmer, saner parent. Much. I won't lie, my Miriam is still bonkers, mostly when I ask her to do things like put on socks before school (the horror!) but I am much more able to deal with it, having some space during the day to recollect my sanity. And wash the pee sheets.

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  41. I love your posts. They always, always make me so happy. Thanks for the laughs.

    We always thought we would homeschool. We live in Montana, with no Catholic school for a hundred miles. Then, through a very strange series of events (completely guided by God without a doubt), found ourselves involved in the startup of a private, independent Catholic school. And our oldest was only 3 at the time - so not even in school! Anyways, she's now 6 and I say on an almost daily basis "I'm so grateful we're not homeschooling!" She's an extreme sanguine, and absolutely thrives off the social nature of school. I imagine homeschooling her and want to go hide in a hole. Thank you God, for knowing what we needed, way before we needed it!

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  42. Blythe, you are awesome. I follow you on snapchat... and lemme tell ya, I feel your daily stuff!! Much of the same around here except less Death Cab and more RATM... ha ha. I am struggling with this very thing right now. We just moved, and I have three kiddos. Second kiddo is autistic and just began being verbal. He attends a part-day classroom at a local public school. It's not long, but I think its been good for him. My oldest sounds EXACTLY like your kiddo... except for his f-bombs are frequent. I am trying to homeschool him but sometimes I just look at him and think.. why should he be home with me all day?? I am not that great... and preoccupied by my 5 month old who is kinda difficult. My husband has been asking me if our others cried this much. So, long and short of this comment is I support your decision... it's just life,not that scary. If this isn't the right choice for your family, it will become clear. Kudos to you for making it... especially with people who comment about how kids would be better off playing cards... sheeesh!

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  43. They'll do fine. Just remember to always have a presence at the school. Go eat lunch with them, volunteer, be as involved as you were with homeschooling, know their friends, and keep the faith alive at home. Don't let the spiritual activities be neglected because of homework and teacher deadlines. Those were the things that helped me when we quit homeschooling. My children actually became bolder about defending their faith. It all worked out just fine and I was better for the decision as well.

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  44. It can almost never exactly the same crazy, and also the crazy is actually never really eliminated, but occasionally it slams you as well as you're (read: I) feel fumbling for some time as I attempt to get through this.

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  46. It can kind of every thing they've usually hoped for therefore don't be concerned. I think Martha will be much less resistant, much more excited, much more compelled to become awesome, as well as all the other good stuff. It's not the you are possessing a difficult time therefore I'm delivery you aside type of point.

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