This is a difficult post to write, my friends; mainly because it was such a difficult decision to make. The short story: I enrolled Jubilee, Hezekiah and Tucker in school last week and will be enrolling Kalina this week. They will begin school the first week of January, after Christmas break.
The long story, the real story, is much more complicated.
Chuck and I began our family planning to homeschool our children. We never discussed a different option. We put Mordecai in school at the beginning of his third grade year. I had been unsuccessful in teaching him to read and we knew he needed a different environment. In 2012, we enrolled Jubilee, Hezekiah, Avi and Tucker in school as a stop-gap measure. At the time we were overwhelmed with Apollo’s appointments and physical needs. He was being tube fed four times a day and consumed only a few bites of food orally. He was not in good physical health and was facing another heart surgery and numerous doctor’s appointments. Our plan was to have them complete the school year then come home and resume homeschooling, which we did (with the exception of Avi who has an IEP and needs special services).
Chuck and I were on the couch talking last week, discussing the latest happenings (and series of appointments) in our family when he looked at me and said, “I think you should enroll the kids in school“. He reminded me that he was wasn’t sure about homeschooling them again after their year in school. “They’re doing great, why not leave them?” he asked at the time. In the end we chose to homeschool them again because that was The Plan.
If you know me in person, you probably know that I have a very calm, mellow exterior. The mellow side often hides my stubborn and determined personality (just ask my mom). The Plan was to homeschool. Yes, we got off track the year Apollo had two heart surgeries, but darn it, I was back on track with The Plan right as scheduled. The hard truth is, sticking to The Plan, made thoughtfully 20 years ago, is not the best course of action right now.
In many ways I feel like a failure. If only I worked harder, had the kids do more chores, got more organized, came up with the perfect schedule, then I would be able to homeschool according to The Plan. I feel like I should be able to do everything: run my house, homeschool the kids, get up early to exercise and make healthy food, do the laundry and run kids to appointments. The thing is, just like in 2012, no amount of organizing and scheduling allows me to be home when I’m not home. Right now we have ten children at home, four with special needs. Between appointments for Kalina, Mordecai, Avi and Apollo (not to mention routine appointments for the children without special needs) things are falling through the cracks. As I said back in 2012, I am not willing to have my older children raise and educate their younger siblings…nor am I willing to give my children a half-baked education for the sake of The Plan. Our reason for homeschooling was to give our children a superior education and I can’t supply that (right now) and adequately meet the needs of my children with special needs.
I am also dealing with some health issues myself (nothing life-threatening, so no need to worry that I am going to keel over and you’ll have to marry Chuck and mother my children). Like most moms, I put my children and their needs first. Right now I am running out of options, but want to try exercise, a clean diet and weight loss before I take the next irreversible step: surgery. I need to be healthy to care for my family and my health issues have (understandably) been shoved to the back burner for the last two years.
I am sad, very sad, to see the end of my homeschooling days. I have shed tears, an have not doubt I will shed more. The words my friend wrote in my post Living the Dream hold just as true today. I need to let go of the The Plan and move my children on a course to success that is different than the one I envisioned. It doesn’t help any that Iris, Judah and Tilly have done so well in community college (Tilly just finished her first quarter of school, ever, and earned a 4.0). I have to remind myself that their childhood was vastly different that their younger siblings.
This time, we don’t intend to put our children in school for a season, then return to homeschooling. We plan to have them finish out their elementary school years at our local school. As for Jr. High and High School? We’re not sure yet. Kalina will attend school so she can access special services available to kids with hearing loss. As for the rest? We haven’t decided yet.
I feel sad and tender and vulnerable. Right now I am focusing my nervous (sad?) energy on clearing out our school shelves and reorganizing.
Once the kids are in school (I’ll be home with just Enoch and Apollo during the day) I plan to focus on my home, my children’s appointments, my health and restoring order to parts of our house and life that have sat neglected for too long.
I know how important homeschooling is/was to you and I know how this decision must break your heart. Even though you have great reasons to quit, you’re going to feel guilty for a while. (I know, because we recently stopped homeschooling at our house!) But every child loves having a more relaxed mother who has the time to be there for them. You’re still going to be their teacher and mentor! Just in a little different way than you’re used to.
Oh Renee. I can image how hard this decision was to come to. It sounds that it is a good option for the situation you are in right now. Praying the transition is a smooth one and you can get the other things in order.
You are a good mother and a good person. You’re doing this for the right reasons. It’s a good option. And I don’t need to tell you that your family is going to be fine.
It’s okay to mourn during this change. But it’s also okay that you’re doing it.
Take care of yourself, set a great example for your family, take care of your house and family. This is a change, but I think it will be a good change. You’ll make it a good one.
Much love to you and your family.
Prayers for peace! I know you didn’t take this decision lightly!
praying for peace in your heart.
This isn’t all or nothing at all! I’m homeschooling, but not homeschooling: we live in Germany and I can’t teach them in German. But I could, and did, read to them from the time they were tiny, every American classic I could get my hands on, and then when they were Kindergarten age I bought the Calvert system for the first two years, which they all enjoyed. I read to all three of them, even the fifteen year old, and we tell them what we think, make sure they have ballet and music lessons, and set the tone, generally. (My fifteen year old once jokingly complained that all he’d heard was Mozart and Bach and Beethoven when the other kids were hearing “the latest.”) And I’d put all that in the category of home schooling. I’ve been called a helicopter mom and I’ll take that as a compliment. Homeschooling isn’t just (and maybe this isn’t even the main point) teaching academic subjects–it’s attitudes, beliefs, culture, all of which, in the best situations, guides the entire attitude of your children toward learning. So you can keep right on homeschooling while sending them off to their local public school, and involving yourself in what they think of their work. Lately, I have the most fun with how the German school system teaches English, but that’s a long story (see my blog).
Oh, my Friend…. what a hard decision to make. I wish I had good words to encourage you with, but just know that you are loved and prayed for. You are an amazing mom.
Cheering you on for making the “right” decision for so, so many reasons during this season. I would encourage you to keep the school at home intact – as I am sure it holds so many memories for your kids, and the younger ones will probably visit some of the material.
2015 will be an amazing year. Grateful you get this season.
We are ditching the curriculum and workbooks but keeping all of the fun stuff. In fact, I am pretty sure they will get more use now.
Such hard stuff, but you appear to manage it with much grace and thoughtfulness. I sincerely hope your body is restored in this season and the transition for the kiddos is easy. <3
Oh Renee, my heart goes out to you. This is NOT failure. You and Chuck are making the best decisions for your family, before the Lord.
I think the biggest (most important) part of homeschooling is the nurturing/discipling part, and you’re still doing that WHEREVER they learn their academics.
Wishing you comfort and joy,
Thanks Julie. Every day since making the decision, it has been confirmed to me that it is the right one. I have too many important appointments between the kids…it is the mental adjustment that is so difficult.
I’m going back and forth for next year too. Sometimes our Plans aren’t really our plans to plan, you know? I’m kind of approaching this year with if-this-is-my-last-year-I-want-to-go-out-with-a-bang! mentality. You have always been an inspiration in a keepin-it-real kind of way and I have always appreciated that 🙂
Thanks for sharing that, Anna. It helps to know that others are considering different options as well.
You’re such a good mama… ((((HUGS))))
This is such a huge change for you. I really feel for you. Maybe my words will help; if not, ignore them please.
My children have always been in daycare/public school, but I have many friends who homeschool. I’ve always been a little jealous, thinking that their kids were learning so much more than mine. But then I started thinking about what their kids were doing and learning, and I realized that my kids are getting the same experiences. Really, essentially the same. Trips tot he ocean to talk about animals, reading together and discussing, little science experiments at the kitchen table, crafting. The difference? My friends were calling it homeschooling and I was calling it….Saturday. So now I realize schooling is as much and either/or as we are often led to believe. It’s all the learning they do, every day, both formal and informal. My kids are getting the best I have to teach them and also the best others have to teach them. It’s working out okay.
Good luck to you.
That’s funny (that you were calling it Saturday). I see a whole lot of this in our future. With school doing the basics, I will have a lot more time for the fun stuff and I am looking forward to that.
If you believe the Lord leads your way, putting the kids in school is just another stop on the journey. It’s not a failure on your part, it’s a wise thing for parents to realize they can’t be super parents 100% of the time. You’ve spent so many hours at doctor’s offices for the kids that now it’s time for you to take care of yourself. Of course, the appointments and services will still be there.
Be kind to yourself.
Thank you Ann.
The decision you made is for the best for all. Things change over 20 years. My sister in law home schooled and after 14 years enrolled the younger ones in school.
Be strong and look after your health. You want to be fit to see your grand children grow up, don’t you?
So true. And it seems reasonable to reconsider a decision (even a good one) after 20 years…
If I may. Will Enoch continue with home schooling?
Yes, he will continue. He just has one more year until he can begin community college.
Praying for you and your whole family. No judgment here. Each family must walk with God to determine what is best for them at that time. Praying for peace and for all to go well. I will be curious as to whether you find it easier to send kids to school than it was to homeschool them. I have been telling myself for years that it is easier to homeschool. Either way, I wish you all well. Blessings!
I only homeschooled our oldest son for two years, but when we decided public school was going to be the best thing–at least for now–for our kids, I felt such a sense of failure. I still sometimes think that it’s my fault that we aren’t pursuing our own original “Plan”, even though all of us are thriving after making the change.
I admire you so much for your honesty. It takes courage to divert from plans and try new things, seeing where God carries you on a fresh path. Like the others who have already commented, I’ll be praying God’s peace envelopes you. You are loved!
Thanks Lenae, I didn’t realize you had your oldest in school. My kids did very well there in 2012, and I am confindent they will do well again.
I’m sad for you that you’re sad, but please don’t beat yourself up about it! Homeschooling is great. So is classroom life in a traditional school setting. You and Chuck are fantastic parents and you’re raising your kids to be fantastic people with the resources that you have, one of which is access to public education. You can be proud of the years you homeschooled and proud of the decision you’re making now. Life has seasons and cycles and you’re accepting that regardless of The Plan. 🙂 (I’m a stubborn butthead too, so I totally get it….and had to send my son to public school when i wanted to homeschool because a financial crisis forced me back to work. We both learned a ton.)
Thanks for sharing. I am coming to realize that while I really, really *want* to homeschool right now, I can’t. Instead I spend my time at appointments for my kiddos, which is really important right now.
It is so obvious how much you love your kids, and I can only imagine how hard this decision was. I know that God will honor your decision because of the love and prayers involved! May He grant you peace in it all and help to restore your health! HUGS!
Thank you, Michelle. I am looking forward to having the freedom and time to focus not fun stuff once the basics are covered at school.
I understand how tough that decision was. I appreciate your transparency. Thanks for sharing your decision.
One thing that kept to my mind as you talked about The Plan was a saying we have at my house. “It’s a plan, not a promise, and plans change.”
Your plans have changed, and that’s tough, but it will become your new normal.
I’ll be praying for you and each of your children as you make the transition.
That is brilliant,Lorella,and I’ll be using that line in the future!
The hardest thing about this special needs parenting gig for me is confronting my limitations. I remember when Kaylee was about 4 days old. I had not slept, I was interstate from my husband and children, things were really bad. I walked in and found they were about to give her a lumbar puncture. I nearly keeled over – literally. I could not stay there while it was done. Just physically could not. I have to forgive myself daily for not being super human. It is the hardest thing in the world to forgive. I keep hoping I will find the perfect schedule, chore system, meal planning system etc. that will fix everything but so far I haven’t found one that will make my daughter walk and talk or my other daughter’s anxiety disappear. I have a feeling it may not exist. <3
Thank you, Jess. The intensity of special needs parenting day in and day out, year after years is hard to describe unless you have lived through it. Thank you for sharing a bit of your story with me.
You’ve been on my heart and mind over here in the land of OZ the last few days and I am praying the appointments are all productive, sleep is being had and moments of joy are abundant. I have been sorting out scheduling conflicts for next MAY with therapists and specialists, seriously special needs parenting should come with a secretary 😉 Because of the way things are structured here in Australia I am essentially employed as a carer for Kaylee and Jon (hubby) was also home full time for the last three years. Jon’s just now starting to be able to work outside the home. Life is good, buy very different to what we had planned – and I am great at planning so had a very specific idea of how our life would roll out. I know with my head that He is in control, trusting that is always a work in progress. Praying especially for Tucker making this transition and Mordecai.
You are not a failure. You are brave. You are doing the hard thing because it’s best for your family. I will be praying for smooth transitions and rich blessings for each one of you in this new adventure.
I understand your struggle completely, and feel you are very wise and putting things in the right perspective. It will still be hard but you should have peace in your decision. May God bless you all.
Thank you so much for being so open and honest and putting a lot of my feelings the past 6 months into print. I too have walked this same path. The hard decision, the feelings of failure, the frustration of “this was not how I thought things would be.” I also found myself with some health issues that had me having to consider other school options for our children. It hasn’t been easy and initially I really struggled with not really wanting them in school. I wanted them home, to continue our plan. Its as if every concern/question I had about public school or reason for homeschooling was brought to the foreground and it was incredibly difficult. I too felt if only I worked harder at organization, if I could only figure out a way to help the boys do things more effectively (both diagnosed 10 months ago with visual learning disabilities) I could make this work but the reality was I was spending so many hours each day doing “school” (because they took many times longer to accomplish things than most) that no one was happy and the girls, because they were able to do things quickly, often were not challenged to the levels they could have been or that I wanted to. It hasn’t been easy but they are doing well and I am still involved in their learning but in a way that is manageable given my health issues. I am so sorry that you are sad and feeling like a failure. You are not. You are an amazing momma and you inspire me each time I read your blog and you have taught me so much through the sharing of your life and experiences. I thank you so much for sharing and helping me give voice to my own experience and continue to heal. Wishing you all the best in your new path.
Thank you so much for this, Marianne. Your words could have come straight out of my mouth. My typical kids are not being challenged enough doing the bare minimum…
You are a FANTASTIC mother. I gave a link to your blog to a friend few months back. We talked about it a lot ( I have 4 children bellow 3 years, she has 2) and we had lot of really nice, inspirational discussions about what we’ve learnt from you. We both love and admire your family, your way of life, and the way you share your thoughts and feelings. One thing I couldn’t imagine was the logistic of running errands, seeing doctors, taking care of your house, running a business AND homeschooling. It never seemed humanly possible to me. You proved me wrong. You did it. You didn’t fail your plan – you planned to homeschool, and you homeschooled. Now the family situation has changed. New needs occured, new challenges came, that you did not forsee when you made THE PLAN. By reacting on what’s really going on you’re being the best mother possible – you’re solving the situation that needs to be solved, you’re not closing your eyes just to be successful in fulfilling the plan you made 20 years ago.
It’s always important to see the bigger picture. What children really need is a mother who is able to give them her time, love and strength. Everything else is optional. If sending your children to school means you will have time and space to look after yourself and be the mother they needs, you’re doing the best thing there is to be done. And I bow down to you.
Yes, I think the hardest part is admitting I *can* do it all. I want to and feel like I should be able to, but the reality is I can’t homeschool if I am off at appointments on an almost daily basis. I need to focus on those appointments and therapies for my special needs kids and my typical kids needs a consistent, thorough education.
I really admire your decision. It can’t be easy to change “The Plan,” but at the same time, I think the value of doing what needs to be done for your family at this point is priceless.
Yes, The Plan that was so fabulous and great 20 years ago is no longer feasible. And that’s okay…
Thank you so much for being vulnerable and sharing this! You may not see it but it’s inspiring to those if us who are just starting on their “plan.” I hope to homeschool my little one through 3rd grade but I hope that I will be open to an alternative option should we need to explore it. I was homeschooled and have started feeling like wanting to homeschool my don may actually be selfish of me simply because I don’t know anything else and well I’m a little scared. All I have to say is thank The Lord for husbands who are willing to bring up the hard decisions in life. I know mine will help me make the right ones.
Thanks for these words. It helps to see your perspective (that maybe wanting to homeschool is a selfish or fear-driven path for you). I am so glad Chuck simply came out and said he thought we should put the kids in school. He didn’t have a long list of reasons or a lecture…he just said it.
You are an awesome and thoughtful mom. I so enjoy reading your blog and, from many years of reading and getting to “know” you, know that you will always make the best choice for your family and children.
Jane, yes, while I *want* homeschooling to be best for my family right now, the reality is it simply isn’t.
Oh this is exactly why I love your blog so much and continue to check it daily for over the past 5 years, long after I’ve stopped reading other blogs I found at the same time. Your ability to be flexible, put your children before ideology while holding true to your values & influences is a daily inspiration to me. The way you step back & evaluate the original plan & then change or adapt to the current needs of the children & family life in front of you is just such an excellent reminder to me as I negotiate the teeny years of 3 little ones (well 2 & 1 due in 2 weeks!) It’s like the changing stance on technology you were explaining recently. Such a brave post to write & inspiring to read. Don’t stop blogging though!!
Verity, writing this post was a great time of reflection for me. When I realized that the decision to homeschool was made 20 years ago, it made me feel better about changing course now. It was a great decision back then and I have no regrets, but after two decades I think it is reasonable to reassess the situation. Thank you for your encouraging words.
My thoughts and prayers are with you Ranee as you transition into this new chapter of your life! I pray that you will be able to focus on your own healthy issues and get yourself healthy… as only then can you be the wife, mother and woman that God wants you to be!! I am with a couple of other people and I hope and pray that you will still continue to blog. Take the time you need to mourn the loss and change from a homeschooling family to a not homeschooling family. Know that those of us who read your blog are loving you and supporting you NO MATTER what decision you and Chuck make for schooling for your children. They will thrive and learn no matter what situation they are in…you and Chuck have laid wonderful ground work and they are self-directed life long learners! Be kind to yourself…
Is Enoch still homeschooling? Or is he finished with school?
I plan to keep blogging…Enoch will continue homeschooling. He is doing well and does 90% of his work not he computer. We want him to be able to begin Running Start (the community college program) at 16 like his older siblings. If he is in school, he can only attend part time.
I plan to continue blogging, and in reality that aspect will probably get better since I’ll have more time to play with my camera and write. Enoch will continue to homeschool. He only has a year and a half until he begins Running Start at our community college and, of course, he is big enough to be left alone or to help when I am gone at appointments.
I wanted to say that you are brave to do what is best for yourself and your family. I am encouraged by your story. You are doing a great job, but that does not take away the sting of letting of a hope.
the sting of letting go of a hope is what I meant to say
Very true, and I am doing better day by day.
We homeschooled for six years and this year all three of our older boys chose to go to public school. It was such a tearing for me to give that part of our life up, but oh the freedom we are enjoying from making a healthy decision for our family. Our boys are flourishing in school and the younger kids and I are enjoying our time together. I finally have time to get my health back and just be a mom. There is such joy in each season, but it’s very hard to let go of the one we’ve been in to make room for the next.