The Teacher Turned Mom Dilemma

clown mumu 1Homeschooling was off my radar until I read this book by Quinn Cummings and started reading blogs by other moms who believe in a lot of the same principles I believe in; like traditional food, midwifery, green living, breastfeeding and, you know, trying to be the best moms ever and still maintain some semblance of sanity. Turns out that many more parents than I ever knew plan on homeschooling their kids. This all led me to seriously consider homeschooling my son too. In fact, I was certain for a couple weeks that home schooling was the route for us. This was new for me, especially since I was a kindergarten teacher in a very traditional private school for years before Porter was born. I love teaching, and while I’m not sure I’ll do it again, I’m not sure that I won’t either.

If Anyone Can Do It, It’s Me

One train of thought is that since I’m so good at teaching other people’s kids, I should be able to teach my own kid. I mean really, so many people do this. Then I had this epiphany today. When I would give a parent positive feedback about their child, like “she’s so helpful” or “stays on task well”, they would often respond with, “My child? No, certainly not my child.” To which I would respond that yes it’s true, their kid is fabulous.

The other side of this coin is when this fabulous child has their parent in the classroom at some point during the day. This focused and happy child often turned into a whiny, dependent toddler who seemed to have forgotten how to hang their jacket on a hook, let alone complete multiple classroom tasks unassisted.

It wasn’t until today, with my 2-year-old, that I realized that many kids really do act differently when they’re around their parents, in their comfort zone. That’s not to say that I expect my child to be whiny and dependent, but the grace he shows, already, while working with other adults and peers is astounding. I have taught him countless skills and will continue to do so. Utilizing homeschooling websites is an invaluable asset to me already. As a family we will continue to give him a diverse array of experiences, but I feel like he would be missing out on a personal growth experience by not getting to go to school. I’m not talking about socializing either, because I don’t think that’s as big an issue as other non-homeschooling people might.

He’s Got The RIght Personality

My son is a trusting fellow, and that’s how I hoped he would be. My husband and I have worked really hard to make our home comfortable and safe for each other. To always be there when Porter needs solace, a hug or reassurance. In the simplest of terms, I’ve got an extroverted kid. He gains energy when other people are around, he’s not afraid to talk with people and enjoys getting attention from just about any smiling person we may come across.

For my child, and many others I suspect, it’s almost easier to learn from someone other than their own parents. A teacher is someone who is at a comfortable and objective distance from Porter. Certainly not someone who’s cold, but someone like me. Who genuinely loves teaching, relates to children easily, dedicates their life to making sure generations of kids learn to read and write and become whole individuals.

Saying Goodbye Is Hard

Teachers will understand definitely understand this next part. When I told a parent of a crying child that their son or daughter would be just fine only moments after they left, I wasn’t trying to placate them. I’ve seen it hundreds of times and I knew in my core that their, normally, happy and vibrant child always returns to being themselves almost immediately once the parent has left. I also know that leaving your child, crying or not, can be heartbreaking in and of itself. Shoot, the first time I left Porter at the gym daycare for and hour he didn’t cry, but I sure did.

And Then There’s Me

I mentioned earlier that my son is 2, and I don’t care what anyone says or how they try to sugar coat it, he’s a handful. Certainly, I’ve made changes that have helped my energy level and patience (like cutting out sugar most TV), but I have interests that I really want to pursue. Being a stay at home mom is not what I thought it would be.

Something in me believed that because I enjoy cooking and teaching children, that I could learn to like cleaning and folding laundry, and (gasp) spending my entire self devoted to my child. Life would be one big playground after another and we would frolic and float on the bliss of childhood wonderment. And we do, just not all day everyday. There’s that whole issue of reality to contend with too.

Reality, It’s No TV Show

It turns out that I still don’t like cleaning, so much so that I hire someone to come to my house bi-weekly to do the bulk of it. Laundry? Don’t even get me started on how big my pile of clean clothes can get before I force my husband into the servitude that is folding and putting it all away. As for the cooking, I’m doing more of it than ever and that’s okay. But I’m no Donna Reed having dinner done, or even started, before Luke gets home from work. I call it a good day as a stay at home mom if a majority of the toys are off the floor, Luke gets a proper greeting and Porter is in a good mood.

Back Where We Started

All this leads me back to the whole school thing. I want Porter to go to school for many reasons, and my own selfish needs are one of them. That’s right, I’m being selfish so that I have something to give. So I can reserve a piece of me that is genuinely excited to explore and pursue new interests and goals.

In the last few months, considering homeschooling vs schooling, I have gained quite a bit of respect for parents who choose to home school. I often reference their websites and blogs for ideas that I can use at home. But in the same way that I knew I would breastfeed my son, when the time came for him to sleep in his own bed, and the same part that doesn’t force him to eat dinner if he’s not hungry…I know he’ll be attending preschool taught by a genuine teacher. A person who loves what they do and does it well. Who wants my child to be successful and who I’m sure will assure me that during the day, when I’m not there, that everything continues to be peachy for my sweet boy, and knows in their core that it’s true. I know I can trust in that.

What are your thoughts on homeschooling vs traditional schooling? Leave them in the comments below.

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