Friday, May 27, 2011

I am

sick. I've got a cold. I didn't know so much mucus could come out of a single human body!

(…what? Oh. Too much information? I'm sorry.
I'm sick. I'm not rational!)

I am

a bit low. Like, I did a whole bunch of "self-tests" for depression, and they all said, "Hmmm. Lady, it looks like you're kinda sad; maybe you should get some help with that." (That's a euphemism for lots of sites saying: "you show moderate to high signs of clinical depression." But those are medical terms, and maybe if I'd taken the tests when I wasn't sneezing, coughing and overwhelmed by a huge to-do list I'm trying to keep in my head and a truly high-maintenance, psychotic kitten, I might have come out of the whole thing with a big, gold Happy Star.)

I am

finding myself unsure and afraid at times, about my homeschool choices. Do I stay on the path of life learning/unschooling, which sometimes feels like an enormous Unknowable, Uncontrollable journey, or do I follow the path that sometimes seems so much safer and calmer, and buy a lovely, set curriculum that tells me and my kids what we should do each day?

Some days, when I'm low and poorly, following that path is so tempting. Because then I wouldn't panic about whether my kids were learning what they "should" be learning. Then I might not feel guilty, when I suggest they do something 'schooly.'  Then I might know what's coming, and feel grounded.

Other people use planned curriculums—they structure their days, and the kids are happy. I regularly read a beautiful blog where the kids use a boxed curriculum, constantly do art, relish their learning journey, and have plenty of free time. I have many bloggy friends and friends in real life, who structure their homeschool days, use a variety of curriculums, and the kids thrive.

Some days, that's all I want—to plan my and my kids' future. To climb into the sweet structure of a schedule and set goals. To settle into the comforting solidity of planned steps, like dance moves painted on the pavement. Clearly set out, there for us to follow.

Which is fair enough.

But I am

not sure that it's truly what I want every single day,
and what would be right for my kids,
in which case we should totally change how we homeschool,

or if it's only what I want when

I have a huge to-do list in my head, and
am dealing with a crazy high maintenance kitten, and
am sick,
and overwhelmed.

in an attempt to figure it out

I have been
and am…

reading, again, about unschooling.

I am

going back to the basics. Reading, again, the articles, blogs, and websites.  Feeling out and finding how this kind of learning fits and resonates for me, and why.

I am

finding that

all that I read…

makes me feel calmer.

And then…

I am

sitting with my children at breakfast, as they talk to me about different countries of the world, places their Nana is travelling to, places we hope to visit. I am sitting with them with the big world map out, looking for countries and capitals, talking about continents, talking about the first explorers. I am sitting with them as we get out our Usborne Encyclopedia of World History to read about South America, the conquistadors of Spain, the defeat of the indigenous people, and the introduction of slavery.

I am sitting and thinking:

this is us. This is how we roll. This, this moment, isn't terrifying at all.

And then…

I am

watching my kids


listening as they ask to watch How It's Made videos and
ask me the meanings of words in their books and
discuss what they love about the books they're reading and
ask to play Tiny Wings on their dad's i-phone and
play and
write and read poems and
read their Scientriffic magazine and
practice piano for hours or violin 'til the confidence rises and
discuss slavery with their friends and
design a felt toy bird and
play and
make up funny skits for me to film and
say, "I want to learn how to type," and
"I want to write stories with you, Mum," and
"I'm going to read The Number Devil next!" and
play and
laugh and
read for hours and hours and hours 'til they come up for air, blinking.

I am

taking the time to breathe

and to


and what I see


so good. 

And yes, I am

complicated and crinkled and treading a path that seems kind of chaotic right now.


I am

hopeful, too.

Because I am taking the time to think. To pause and reflect.

Because there are low moments in my days, but also many, many moments of wonder and magic. Laughter and beauty. Good and grace.

Because I'm still me, in here, looking out.

Looking for joy. Keeping still and waiting,

for the light to show itself.



  1. Oh boy do I understand that uncertainty. We did a somewhat structured year of homeschooling because it was our first, and because I am naturally a disorganized person. I needed the structure.

    But I also have, deep in my heart, a desire to bring some of the unschooling essence into our lives. I just don't know how. Yet.

    So I start with structure as a help, then as I gain my balance, confidence, and knowledge, I know I'll stretch over into what is more unfamiliar and unstructured (and scary!).

    You are close to your family so you may not be able to see it, but readers of your blog can. Your children are getting a wonderful life education. They are learning to value education and to educate themselves. That is key, and that's what's going on.

    I hope you feel better soon. Be sure to get plenty of vitamin D. :) And even though you may feel like you're unsure on your unschooling path, you are helping me see a way! So thanks for sharing. :)

  2. I just want to give you a big hug right now!! I am so sorry you aren't feeling well and the gray is around you. I have to tell you that I have the same fears as you do. I have the same worries about unschooling. I have the same pep talks with myself about finding the joy. What a journey this is, yes? In the end, I know it comes down to trust, feeling the fear and doing it anyway (as you said beautifully in your last post). It's also hard not to compare ourselves to other families, just as it was hard not to compare mine to all the wonderful things your children are doing!! I have to remind myself often that we are all far more alike, than we are different :), and that I have something to learn from every path I come across.
    Lots of love to you Helena :), and thank you for another beautiful post.

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  4. Oh Helena! Do you know how much you inspire me. I wish I could be more like you. KEI wishes I would be more like you. You have amazing kids whose happiness oozes off of every word you write. They are confidante, talented, bright and wonderful and you know this. We all feel like this sometimes. I think that is why we are all good HS Moms. We DO question because we so want the best.

    My sweet friend, you ROCK!!! And as for the lows..the beautiful shining HIGHS will find you again. They always do.

    So funny because out of all the blogs I read, I wish I had the guts to be more like you. Love you!

    *Removed the first one because it had a misspelled word!! How embarrassing ;)

  5. Rest, drink tea, read books you want to read and relax and rest some more.

    When I read your blog I am blown away by what your kids know! I start to think of un-schooling, I begin to see how if you let them be, they find their true North, learn what they need to learn...

    Your inspire me so much, you inspire me to see where unschooling may take us...

    Rest, take it easy,

    I am sending positive energy your way, sweet friend.

  6. It sounds like we have the same thing - *so* much mucus! Blurghhh. I hope you are better soon, I'm at the tail end I hope.

    I can relate entirely to your uncertainty - for me it bubbles up almost daily and reading and re-reading about unschooling, touching base with other natural learners either in real life or through online forums and visiting blogs such as your beautiful one is what keeps me afloat. It's quite the journey with mountains and troughs isn't it? Feeling unwell certainly opens up those troughs - canyons even - at times.

    You have a wonderful outlook and perspective - I have no doubt that you will be able appreciate those moments of wonder and magic even from the bottom of your temporary mucus filled trough!

  7. hugs to you lovely,

    we do all stumble with our choices as mothers, as homeschoolers, as friends as lovers.
    As long as we are thinking about the choices we make, and we are making them with love and with truth and consideration we will get there in the end, wishing you all better really really soon.


  8. I'm so sorry you're feeling low. I've been there before. I hope things shift for you soon! I hope, too, that the positive energy coming towards you from your blog friends helps :)
    I know you realize that your low mood is contributing to your homeschooling uncertainties, but I thought I'd confirm what others here have said too, and say that I experience the same thoughts from time to time. Usually it is when I am run down, tired, or sick. I know though, as you do, that this path feels right, so it's the path for us!
    Feel better soon!

  9. Hugs to you! I also live in the state of am I doing enough? Am I screwing them up? And on those days we do something more schooly. The kids don't mind much, and I feel better. This may go on for a few days, and then it passes. I have always been like this. It is ok. You will find your way. The journey is different for everyone.
    I echo the others, make sure your Vitamin D is up. That is a big factor for me and depression, as well as Omega 3's. Take it easy, pamper yourself, love yourself. You are awesome, and deserve only kindness. Sending you my love. Do you feel it?

  10. Sending big hugs! And I just want to let you know also how much you inspire me to be more unschooly! What you do sounds so lovely, so learny, that I want to do more of that.

    I have doubts about how we homeschool. Surely we should do "more"? But, that isn't what homeschool is about. It's about finding what works for you. Knowing that learning happens all the time.

    I think I'm a bit more schooly than you - but we don't use "packaged" curriculum. I kind of plan out what we want to tick off during the term and then find ways to achieve those. I couldn't stand printed out (or online) curriculum that tells us what to do and when to do and how to do it and then you are left feeling guilty if you don't do it that way. And I don't think you would like it either.

    Big, big hugs - you are wonderful and amazing (if a little snotty at present) :-)

  11. Hi Helena. Hope you're feeling a bit better today.
    We're semi-schooly, with a routine (no packaged curriculum though) and you know what? When I am flat or anxious or sick, its really, really hard to stick to the schedule. And then I feel guilty and that my children will get behind because I don't have the energy to keep them to the schedule. I'm actually glad at those times that I am only semi-schooly and can let go of the schedule for a few days until I'm able to plug back in. The same applies when its one of the boys that's sick or having an off day.
    So the grass isn't greener on the other side.
    I also think those times of doubt and question aren't necessarily bad- they help us to reaffirm the things we believe and readjust the things that may need tweaking.
    It shows you care.


I love hearing from you! Thank you for your heartfelt, thoughtful responses—they lift me, and give me light.