Sunday, June 14, 2015

stewing about change

I've been stewing. We've had a rough spell these last two weeks, with unanswered health questions, doctor's appointments, and a little overwhelm.  It's brought me down, and reminded me how little control I have over so much of our lives.  This is also the time of year when we schedule a homeschool evaluation, required by the state we live in, and my mind has been caught up in all we are not doing right now.  Yes, I know, it's summer. Summer! But we take so many breaks throughout the year, for travel, for visitors, to accomodate large projects like Honey for the Heart or performing in a play, that I am reluctant to let go of it all during the summer.  So, I've been wrapped up in anxiety about what we aren't doing right now, fighting with Ani about writing, and feeling myself wind up tighter and tighter.  

Just leave the cheese ball on the counter. it will be delt with thoraly.

I lay in bed last night, during a rain storm, and thought about how great our spring was. The girls were motivated to learn together: we finished up the history we were doing, we made 13 really awesome map drawings, started a series of botany classes that are tying in nicely with our fall tree studies and our general love of identifying plants, and we learned several passages from Midsummer Night's Dream that we enjoy pulling out for each other every now and then.  Life felt juicy, in a more structured way. I could check off some lists, and/but everyone was engaged and thriving.

Call me crazy, but when it's good, I'm not satisfied, I just want more. I feel like I've found the key and I don't want to stop because we might lose it again. So, I've been spiraling downward with the resistance I've been getting to moving ahead with, well, pretty much anything on my list.

new handmade bag love

I am still mooning over my new....well, I don't know what to call him, this beautiful chubby baby, but he's the son of my cousin and I'm still a little obsessed, though it's been two and a half weeks since I came home from welcoming him to earth.  I felt like my visit was mostly a huge gift to me, but I tried to sprinkle around a little wisdom while I was there - you know, the pinkie trick when mama isn't quite ready to nurse (like, maybe she has to pee or something?) and the rooting is fierce, or how most babies, when the diaper is off, will sneak in another pee just for the hell of it once they sense a fresh diaper under their bum, so let them hang out a while or you'll just be starting over from square one with the trifold - but the one piece of experience I felt coming back to me from early days with Eliza was that Things Change. It's all about change.  Especially when you think you've got it down. "It's happened twice - that's a pattern, right?" my cousin would ask me, her huge brown eyes lighting up through the sleepy fog. It's almost like a curse to announce "He's sleeping three hours at a time during the night! It's amazing!" Blam. It's gonna change. Bedtime for us was like that for years.  We had two weeks at most with any successful strategy, and then it would all change.

Maybe even when things are working really well, it does not mean they will always work that way, because things change.  My attempts to define and articulate our homeschool learning life can only describe a moment, because for better or worse, it will change.  

I was so grateful to read Lori Pickert's post this morning (reposted on Simple Homeschool). It reminded me that summer is about freedom.  I'll take that loosely - I think she would agree that kids need freedom a lot of the time.  Freedom to make decisions without checking in.  Freedom to trust their own judgement and solve their own problems.  

It made me look at what is going on with a wider lens:  fort digging behind the school for hours at a time with a neighbor friend...(Dan has seen it - he was called in as a poison ivy consultant - but I've been forbidden, my only involvement being the lending of loppers and a spade)...getting lost in a book, surfacing only to ask "what's a-l-l-e-g-o-r-i-c-a-l?" or "ecclisiastical impedimenta"? The Birmingham sit-down strike?...drawing...dreaming...telling a spy story to yourself for an hour, while pacing, with spy bag, up and down the block...writing a play...sewing a bag...It's an adjustment, but this open time is just as important as the rest of the learning we do.  Maybe I have a problem with transitions (who, me?), and definitely I am a cyclical and slow learner - I grok it a little deeper each time it comes around.  We need both to meet all of our needs - the structured weeks and the open weeks, and just because it's hard to get back into the structure doesn't mean you shouldn't let it go for a while.

There are things I want to do differently this next year. We very rarely have a clear beginning and ending to anything we are doing at home.  Our looking at trees morphed into learning about plant families, which turned into looking at mosses and other non-vascular plants and we're back at trees with the vascular plants and maybe we'll pick that back up in a few weeks when life has settled down a bit. I wonder if it would be nice to know that for all of November we are going to attempt to go full blast at something and then be done? We never have an end-of-the-year tada! We're done! Because, well, we're never done, and I've never wanted to emphasize the start and end of learning time, that's just not how we do it here, but maybe we need clearer breaks from routine, to cleanse the palate as it were. 

We are about to leave on a trip to see friends and celebrate our baby's thirteenth birthday in Maine.  I wouldn't trade our travels for the normal routine right now.  I could feel myself shifting into a different mode yesterday, letting go of my plans for now.  There was a peaceful hour or two where I was experimenting with a sewing project in the kitchen, where I could see Ani outside, pacing up and down the street, telling her story, and Dan and Eliza were on the couch reading To Kill a Mockingbird together, we were listening to Miles Davis and the day felt open and juicy in a way it hadn't for weeks.  I know nothing but my perspective had actually changed, but there it was. A shift.


Sukayna said...

We have times where I panic and want to desperately control or micromanage our time. I even woke up a few days ago well are they prepared, what is the legacy we are leaving as parents, am I naive?? Usually, I can cope and see all the blessings inherent in our way of living and learning, but when those doubts creep in, they are tough. Thank you for sharing your thoughts along your journey. It helps to remember we are not alone and it really is difficult to do something different and not question ourselves from time to time. For me, there are many more times where I find myself completely amazed and thrilled with the random or intricate things that have made up our "curriculum", and of course, those moments where I am in awe of my children and their knowledge and abilities outweigh (and even compensate for) those rare times of stress or not knowing. Longwinded way of saying I feel you :-)
It is sweet, though, those moments where everyone is finding their groove, no? Now I am thinking to look at the stressful thoughts as engine lights or something, a time to re evaluate and to try to keep it to myself. And with two over thirteen, it only gets better! Wishing your lovely family all the best this summer.

slim pickins said...

Thank you Sukayna! It really does help to know other people go through this. I feel the pressure of needing to be strong in my conviction that this is the right path for us, as it is so far off the beaten one...and the doubts can be cruel! I love the idea of stressful spinning = engine lights...let's see if I can remember that next time...

Tokarz said...

oh man, I do know so how you feel about the changes!
Sometimes...everything is perfect, so then when it changes I think i am doing something why can't I just keep it together and make it like this the whole year ???
But, you are right, there are just shifts and what is "right" today is just different than what was "right" last week or month. It doesn't mean that it is "wrong" just different.
So hard to internalize that as a way of being. Grown ups do so tend to want to keep a schedule but I am truly impressed by all that you do with your girls. They are so knowledgeable and smart and are just going to have such a well rounded education! You should just all be patting each other's backs over there!
Thank you for sharing. It does make the rest of us more comfortable to know that we all have these worries! I can see judging from the comments you're getting here, which are also so helpful to me, that you've really hit on a topic that so many are dealing with!

Kerry said...

This post contains so much wisdom. I guess if things never changed, we would never be challenged and that's no good. Life is a kind of roller coaster ride.

I hope that whatever health questions have arisen for you, that they have been resolved successfully.