Color me as excited as any school kid at this time of year. The school season is almost at an end. At least, it is at our house. That’s because we homeschool. We usually aim for a little over 185 days on our books; that’s close enough to the public school system that we can all breathe a little easier if Big Brother ever comes to look over our shoulders. Spring is in full-bloom, the temperature is steadily rising, and the sun is staying out to play a little longer each evening. Not a one of us wants to sit inside “doing” school for even one second longer than we have to.
I’m almost at the end of my 14th year of teaching my kids at home. Fourteen years. Tack on the 17 years I myself spent learning in a classroom, and that’s 31 years out of my approximately forty-seven years on earth allocated to school. I’m flabbergasted by that. Now that it’s written out… well, wow! Thirty-one years of school! And it’s not like I imagined I’d grow up to be a teacher when I was a little girl. I have a distant cousin who is in her 29th year of teaching, but it was her life-long ambition to teach. Me? I kind of thought that maybe I’d be a glamorous publishing house editor, or perhaps a spook for the CIA.
So how did I get to those last fourteen years of homeschooling? I mean, how did my life turn out this way? Although I knew I’d be a mom, I certainly never envisioned myself basking in the glory of laundry, burnt gook on the gas burners of the cooktop, or morning after morning spent drilling my kids on Latin vocabulary. In fact, I, like most women I know, didn’t exactly foresee that my life would be so… well, so mundane. But life took a turn – or several – and my life is what it is.
Lest you think that I’m whining and bitter about how my life has turned out, I’m not. Sure, on occasion I wish that I was a modern day Dorothy Parker or a female Jason Bourne, but I gave all that up because my desire to be “Mom” trumped everything else.
I was trying to explain precisely that fact to my thirteen year old daughter the other day. Like almost everyone else I know, this economy has wreaked a little havoc on our lives. Sacrificing an extra income so I can homeschool our children means that we give up a lot. My daughter remembers the better times though, and is fed up with all our cost-saving measures. She’s very vocal about it too. So the other day when I was patiently describing to her why we couldn’t afford something, she piped up with “Well, when I grow up, I’m going to marry someone rich, and money won’t be a problem.”
Uh, yeah. We ALL thought that, and hoped for that when we were her age. Some of us managed to marry rich (I do know a girl from my high school that married a multi-millionaire), but most of us wanted love more than the security of an extremely padded bank account. And so our lives took the path that offered happiness and intimacy instead of the other.
For me, the same is true for those fourteen years of homeschooling. Because of where we live and have lived, homeschooling has always been in the best interest for our family. I know I would have been happy working in the hustle and bustle of a big city. I know I would have been happy traveling the world in some high-powered corporate position. But the reality is that I love being with my kids more. I’m not completely satisfied making sure the biology experiments are done, or that the Huckleberry Finn writing assignment is coherent and free of grammatical errors, but I am fulfilled being a mom. Certainly not every second of every minute of every day. But enough that I would spend fourteen more years in school than I otherwise would want to. After all, it is just a season in my life. And each season is gone before you know it.