Sometimes the comforter needs comforting, the cheerleader needs cheering, and the mother needs mothering.
I know I do too much. I think most homeschooling parents--parents in general--try very hard to do all they can for their family. I had one of those weeks where many things converged and overwhelmed me. I ran my March storytelling workshop at the library. I drove everyone to their various activities. We finished annual testing. By themselves, these would be minor blips in my hectic life. Now add to that the stress of a moody eight year old, my own feelings of isolation and me trying to actively lose some weight while dealing with perimenopausal emotions gone wild, and you end up with a highly volatile mixture that is sure to end in a meltdown. Which I did.
The result was that I had no creative energy to work on my comic this weekend. Instead, I went for a drive and ended up hiking at a park for almost two hours. The exercise helped, but the sadness was still there, even after I came home and talked with my husband about how I felt.
There is a comic I enjoy called "Rose is Rose" by Pat Brady. One of the many things that I love about it is that Rose has an alter-ego, Vicky the Biker Chick, who surfaces when Rose feels conflicted between her responsibilities and her desire for freedom and adventure. My own inner rebel has been surfacing a lot these days. I am satisfied with the choices I've made in my life, but sometimes I feel crushed under my daily obligations to my family. I want to take care of them, but sometimes it is easy to feel as if they are taking advantage of me. This might sound strange, but I don't want to be indispensable. Nor do I want to be a nag. I just want my family to notice when something needs to be done, like washing a dish or sweeping the floor, rather than waiting for me to ask for help. Lately, the house has been so cluttered and messy, and it tends to stay that way until I either clean it myself or yell. I really don't like to yell.
Testing my kids has always been stressful. It's hard for me to hide my own antipathy for the test. This year I started the test while I was reading John Taylor Gatto's Underground History of American Education. I think that was poor planning on my part. My inner rebel was fit to be tied. I was indignant about wasting my time and theirs with such an arbitrary measurement of learning. Who decided when my children should learn these things? Why should there be a schedule? Two of mine were slow to start reading if they are compared to others. Now they are avid readers. They learned when they were ready. The same is true for the math concepts they are supposed to know. Why do we bother to tell kids they are unique individuals and then test them all in the same way?
Isolation has been my biggest issue lately. We've been going through a changes among our homeschooling friends. Friends that we tended to see regularly are much harder to get in touch with now. One of my best friends started her own homeschooling co-op in the city. That has taken up much of her time, as well as carting her kids to their activities. Other friends have moved and some had their kids return to school or start college classes. It seems like everyone, my family included, is too busy to get together.
This meant it was time to find new activities. Yesterday, in spite of my own depression, I drove out of my normal activity range (a 30 minute drive plus 15 extra minutes, because it was foggy and I got lost) so that my son could attend a homeschooling teens' board game night. While the teens played, there were many parents hanging about at a separate table, talking and playing Bananagrams. Some were new to me and some I haven't seen in a long time because they tend to go to homeschooling activities farther north, out of my range. I realized how much I missed being able to speak with other homeschoolers about the issues and problems that are common to us. The game night ended at 10PM. I had to drive slowly home through a thick fog that enveloped the road, but I felt better than I had in days. It turned out that I needed the companionship and socialization as much as my son.