the mud of every day

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My husband and I have made some hard choices with our lives. We are introverted, and intensely interested in understanding things, and neither of us had ever been particularly drawn to working with kids before we married. So… we decided to go ahead and have four kids by birth and then proceeded to adopt two more! We home- school. I have always stayed at home with our kids.

Did we choose these things because we feel like this is what all moms should do, for religious reasons? No. Absolutely not. We simply both always wanted to give the gift of homeschooling to our kids, the gift of opportunity to pursue interesting things. We both are passionate about education, about learning, and we wanted to share this with our kids. We felt homeschooling gave us the best chance to do this. Not that it is the only way to do so, but possibly the best that we could offer. My husband had the job he liked and my college degree was not a career path I wanted to follow.

This last year was very very hard. The adoption of children suffering from the trauma caused by neglect and abuse, and years of moving from home to home in the foster system, has been incredibly tough. Their behaviors and the changes we’ve all had to go through in adopting them into the family have caused all of us more stress than we had hoped. It is real. But we felt and continue to feel that difficult things are worth doing. These children are precious and need love, need acceptance, need to be wanted.

For this coming school year we have made the hard decision to send three of our children to a charter school, hoping that the provided structure and presence of additional adults might help one or two of them specifically. We also feel the kids may need some separation, as anxiety and stress seems to be running rampant through the whole family. We will see how it works out, and we keep the homeschooling of all of them in our back pocket. Our oldest studied through an online school this last year, and although he stressed a bit too much about the work involved, actually expressed that he liked it and especially the chance to be in the same class with his cousin who lives distantly. My second oldest plans to do this same school this year. This will leave one for which I will need to do all of the work, one who we think could use more attention that we weren’t able to give so much of this past year. We will see how it goes.

It is so so easy to be bogged down in the seemingly mundane details of everyday life. This is something I have struggled with regularly. It is easy to allow myself to feel jealous: jealous of women who can leave home to work at a meaningful job where their interaction is with adults; jealous of moms who send their kids to school – allowing at least a few hours each day when they are not accosted with kids’ questions, needs, demands, problems, or wants and actually have time to be creative; jealous of my husband who goes to work and studies hard scientific problems for hours at a time; jealous of people who have friends who offer them things – meals, cleaning, etc. – or who simply like to hang out with them; jealous of people who seem to have it all together and seem to acquire close friends at all.

But really, this is being idealistic about others, because I feel overwhelmed. The reality is that we all have our struggles. We all have our gifts. We all have our problems. There is no rosy perfect life, and we each have to make our own choices within our lives. Some of us make tough decisions, some of have tough things fall into our laps.

Meanwhile, tomorrow I have to get up… again. I have to get breakfast …again. I have to again care for the kids’ needs, clean, do dishes and laundry, put out fights, separate children, comfort hurts. I have to face the reality of being screamed at, being hit, being contradicted and argued with, and being followed around all day because one little person can’t figure out how to play with others well. I have to address rudeness with kindness and reminders to retry with respect. I have to try not to take things personally…  again.

The mud of every day doesn’t stop. We have to keep wading through it. We need to keep seeking moments of peace. We need to appreciate the little things throughout the day to keep us going. Some of you have friends and family who actively support you, appreciate them.

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