I have a picture very similar to this one, taken last year, of my kids on their first day of public school when I was more than relieved to see them board the bus heading somewhere that wasn't here - with me - all morning. "Please, please, please get on the porch," I begged of them after breakfast because today was another first, and you know I love to commemorate really important events like birthdays and shoes being put on the right feet with plenty of digital photographs.
So here they are, just minutes before piling into the van for our first ever homeschool co-op meeting - a place for them to find friends and me to latch on to other insane women who are taking on the awesome responsibility of teaching their children themselves. "How many times a day do you bang your head against the bathroom wall in frustration?" I wanted to ask, just to be sure that my own head banging was within the national norm for homeschooling mothers. But I restrained myself and focused instead on my nine-year-old son surrounded by other boys, laughing and joking and learning about the Middle Ages.
All four of them, from Elijah, to Prissy, to Ben and Mary, had a fabulous time and I feel greater than great about it, really. It's starting to dawn on me that rather than assuming homeschooling, or even parenting in general for that matter, should be mostly fulfilling with a few moments of despair sprinkled in, I should view it as plain old hard, sometimes tedious, sometimes maddening work with occasional episodes of delight so sweet they more than make up for the crying - my crying that is. Tempered expectations just might be the key to finding peace in the chaos.
2 days ago