Today, the sky is an overarching gray – most likely the sprawled out response to wildfires burning in our state. It’s a muddled gray. It’s dark. But I still have all the curtains open, in case I can still catch a glimpse of blue sky. I’m not one to lose hope.
I’ve been trying hard lately to learn to let go. I think that is one of the major things I have been struggling with during the Coronavirus. I don’t know if it’s true for all people, or it’s just my personality – but I always prepare for the worst. I guess it’s how I find comfort. I know that I cannot actually prepare for every situation in life, but I guess I am one of those people who likes to at least try.
So it has been especially hard dealing with so many things that are outside of myself that I can’t change or control or perhaps the change and control will take much longer to fix. From the political climate, to the racism, to the pandemic, to peoples’ responses to the pandemic (following the rules and caring enough to protect others), to the higher number of crimes and thefts that have occurred during the Pandemic, to people struggling without jobs… I mean the list could go on and on. And when I say I need to learn to let go, it does not mean not to care – but I have to learn that yes, even when I think I am in control – I am truly not. All I can do is my best, and I can’t fix everything.
Sometimes, making change seems so out of reach – so impossible. I feel like I am just a small voice in an ocean of voices shouting, yelling, and calling out. However, I am trying my best to do my part and I have to give myself credit for that as well as perhaps pushing myself forward to do more if and when I can. As a family, we sent in our votes yesterday. It is seemingly small, but an important part of hoping that we can make a difference. My oldest daughter was able to vote for the first time last night and she was incredibly proud to be able to do her part.
I have to realize, that as a mother – I have to give myself more credit. As a homeschool mother, even more so. I think that mothers, whatever their choices, always feel undervalued. It doesn’t matter if we homeschool or if we are in the workforce – we always feel guilty for our choices and we always feel like we are chasing after the next thing that needs to be done. We need to stop listening to those voices that tell us we aren’t doing enough, that we are doing things wrong. Most of the time – we need to realize that we are doing the best we can with what we’ve got and no one else walks in our shoes – no one.
Homeschooling has never been easy, but I guess the way I saw the world, it was an obvious choice for me. I excelled in Literature and Language, but struggled a lot in understanding the underpinnings of Mathematics. I can only say that perhaps Math wasn’t taught well at the time, because later in life I actually did well in Advanced Math in College. However, while being able to land a position as a Gifted Student (and all the perks that presents) I was also put into Remedial Math for a few months (which I thought would be the death of me.)
In Gifted and Talented, we were always given interesting, hands-on assignments. We’d go to colleges and participate in amazing creative lessons, we’d visit the local grade school and perform the same amazing creative lessons with the students there. We were a part of something that made learning interesting, fun, challenging, and rewarding. Imagine my disappointment when I was forced to go to Remedial Math class. The teacher simply sat at the front of the room while many of the students just laid their heads on the desks and slept. The teacher was merely a baby sitter. There were no lessons and I was told the only way to get out of there was to complete a certain number of worksheets that proved I had overcome my disabilities in Math. I got out of there after a few months. I worked on those worksheets feverishly, but at that time, I really still did not understand what I was doing. I could not help always remembering that while I moved on, those same people were still there, day in and day out, with their heads on their desks. They had lost the ability to care and figured no one cared enough to help them.
From that point on I realized that the way our school (and I’m sure many others) promoted education was wrong. What if those students sitting in Remedial Math were actually taught in a way that made the class engaging and understandable? What if they actually tried to reach those students instead of punishing them for not understanding the way the teacher approached the topic? Why would students who are obviously already gifted in learning be given the opportunity to make learning more fun? It seems like you would benefit from teaching everyone that way.
So yes, I think my experiences shaped me in this direction, even though I would never have even said “I want to homeschool” in the years leading up to that decision. It’s just that these experiences gave me the understanding that I wanted to teach my children that education is a gift. Learning is a responsibility and it can be enjoyable, even when you may struggle in one way or another. Learning can be fun, engaging, hands-on, and amazing – it also will never stop. I also wanted to teach my children that if they struggle, they must always try to find another way – because there is never only one way to learn something. If we think there is a limit, it is just because our vision is limited. I never realized that this thinking would come in handy when I found that some of my kiddos had Dyslexia and ADHD.
Homeschooling my children was a choice – and I am grateful that I was given the opportunity, even through the tears and the difficulties (and there have been many). I have to be thankful that what was right for me and my children has worked for us. This is not a choice that everyone can make – and this is not the right choice for everyone – and some may even wish they could, but life has not made it possible for them. We need to realize our limitations – whether internal or external – and be thankful of the opportunities we do have. We need to stop beating ourselves up for trying our best and comparing ourselves to everyone else. No one else knows your story or your struggles – but you.
One gift I have been given is the opportunity to tailor their education, even though we “homeschool” through a public school option. While our school supplies the materials, I am able to tailor their lessons and supplement them. I have to be thankful that when I have taught my children history – we have always supplemented those stories with true accounts – especially from the sides of those who are silenced in our history books. When they learned about slavery, it was not just a quick blurb on a few pages in their textbook. I asked them to read true accounts of what those people witnessed. The same is true for when America was “discovered.”
I have learned that any country’s history is biased. In those pages, you will often hear words only depicting one side of the story. However, to truly understand history, you have to go and find the other voices that are being drowned out. You have to see how all sides came forth – and how all sides see what has happened. It does not always mean you have a clear “good guy” or a clear “bad guy” (although often you do) but knowing something – truly knowing something requires that you understand how every person involved showed up in the picture, how they felt, and what their true story is. I think until we can approach history in that way – and teach history that way, we will always be lacking in empathy. Without empathy, it is difficult to make lasting change.
I have to remind myself, that even though no one can see it – I am trying my best to do my part. I also have to be thankful that I can.