I've been enjoying the comments I've been getting on my last two posts. You're all keeping me on my toes! I encourage everyone to comment if the spirit moves you, I try to answer questions if I can, either on my comments page or yours.
Which brings me to Bonni's question on my latest comic strip. Bonni was interested to know where my recent strips are taking us. I began to answer, but my answer began to look like a post, so I figure I'll start over again here and see what happens:
Uh-oh. Bonni wants to know where I'm taking us. I'm just enjoying the ride! Life is my journey, my adventure, and these bumps along the road make things interesting.
I've never done anything "easily." I could have stuck my kids in daycare, worked 9-5, bottle fed, put the kids in a crib and left them to cry it out, and then finally stick them in school and hope they come out okay. But I preferred to take the harder road where I'm with them practically 24-7, never having that "Better Homes and Garden" house, and always keeping my mouth shut about my bad days.
But is this the harder route? As appleleaf pointed out, "Having had my oldest at school for three years, I remember being so surprised to find that homeschooling relaxed our lifestyle instead of complicating it. Yet many people still think I must work harder than they do! I get tired at times (as my blog shows) but nothing like how it used to be when we had school schedules to live by."
I have often found that by taking my different path, my life became simpler, not harder. Using a babysling meant I didn't have to always lug a stroller. Breastfeeding could be accomplished at a moment"s notice, without measuring, mixing, or begging for hot water or the use of a microwave. Granted, cloth diapers were harder after I opted to wash my own, but my kids all trained by age 3 (Sierra by 2.5) so who am I to complain? And now there is homeschooling.
I find homeschooling easier because I don't have to conform to someone else's schedule. I've had parents I met at the children's extracurriculars tell me exactly what I wrote in comic strip #136. So why do they put up with school if they and their children are so miserable? And why shouldn't I just say out loud, "Maybe you should homeschool." Well, why do I hate people telling me I should put my children in school?
To some extent, all parents love to complain. We want others to know how much we suffer for what we do. Parents are artists, suffering for their work. We want our "mommy points" when we agree to homeschool or to cart our children to dance/tae kwon do/your-child's-classes-here. Why shouldn't others be in awe of us when we sacrifice so much of our time for our babies?
Yes, we should admire the feats of our fellow parents. But as parents we also have this innate tendency to try to fix things. A baby cries and we run for the pacifier (whatever that might be). Another mom complains and we rush to offer helpful suggestions and perspective:
"Have you tried this?"
"Maybe you should..."
"Well at least you don't have MY troubles!"
Do we even listen to the complaints, or are we waiting for a pause so that we can insert our two cents into the conversation?
I once read an interesting article about defusing tantrums. The article suggested that when a child tells you he doesn't want to do something or that he hates something, you should reflect his words back to him. Knowing that you heard what he said and understand his feelings can help him to calm down. Deep down, all any of us want is for someone to listen. Adult or child, we have a need to be heard. Especially parents, because parents spend a lot of time trying to get their children to listen to them. It validates us. It helps us to sort out our feelings. It gives us peace to pull our dark thoughts into the light where they aren't as scary. When we know someone is listening without judgment, we can allow ourselves to work out our feelings, find solutions, and move on.
Thank you, everyone, for listening. I love listening to all of you, too.