Tuesday, 20 May 2008

A Home Educating Mum's Guide to a Quiet Mid-Life Crisis (wouldn't want to disturb anyone would we?)

Today Ds1 attended the first part of a First Aid course. As he frustratingly tells me, I gave him the choice as to whether to attend or not and when he said 'no' I said he had to go anyway. Well, he should consider himself lucky - at least I gave him the brief illusion of having a choice before I took it away from him. lol. Ah well...I figure my kids get lots of choice and freedoms, probably far more than many kids. Sometimes there are things that I think are important enough that I make the choice for them, and this was one of them.

Thankfully the car is still working after it's cam belt breakage and replacement. I did have my doubts last night when, on my way out to go to the home ed pub evening I found dh under the car tying the exhaust back on with wire. Oh joy. That's another thing that needs replacing (yet more money). So now the car sounds a bit like a tractor and everytime I put my foot hard on the accelerator it chucks out clouds of black smoke. I should be thankful for small mercies - at least it's not got bits dragging on the ground or anything too embarrassing.

Anyway, ds1 said the course was 'good', which is bloody marvellous compared to the response I was expecting, so we're off for part 2 tomorrow. This time we'll try and get there on time - a combination of poor organisational skills (me) and traffic (me again - I forgot about rush hour) led us to being late today. But, in true home ed style, there were people even later than us. It could have been worse.

Perhaps I should have just chilled out at that point, but we raced back home to drop dd1 off at preschool, spent an hour at the allotment (sowing carrots and planting out more sweetcorn) before racing back to pick up ds1 from the course at lunchtime. Then to the garage to get a quote for a new exhaust pipe.

I dread taking the car to the garage and as I pulled up there were 5 garage blokes barely out of their teens lurking outside the garage with nothing to do. When the garage bloke asked me 'what's the engine size?' I looked blank and shrugged 'haven't a clue'. I saw that look flick across his face, the 'oh god it's a woman driver' look. Oh joy. Thankfully he wandered off made a phone call and then returned to say that we wouldn't be able to get the exhaust pipe there. So back home we went before once more racing out to get dd1 from preschool and back home again in time for some friends to arrive. Then cooking a tea in a rush and me off to work, leaving the house a mess and nothing much achieved. I had planned to start thinking about what to do for ds2's birthday (only a week away), but like everything else lurking ominously on my whiteboard hanging by the door it just hasn't happened yet. Poor child, if I don't get something organised soon he's going to feel very neglected!


Most of the home educators I know are currently going through a bit of a confidence crisis and I suppose I'm not much different. The daily domestic plod, the overwhelmingly untidy and dirty house, the increasing list of 'to do's, the constant bickering of siblings and the lack of achieving any goals (particularly home educating ones) makes us all have moments when we suspect perhaps school could offer something more. At least school would offer free childcare and we're all in desperate need for that!

Among my circle of friends most of us are having - and have been having for several years - something resembling a mid-life crisis. It's come to that time when we've all decided not to have any more children and we've all started asking the question 'so what's next then? What's in it for us?' Of course it hits us home educating mums hardest because in the midst of domesticity and the responsibility of full time caring and education, there appears to be no light at the end of the tunnel - well not for another 10 or more years (by then we'll probably all be caring for our parents!) Other friends whose youngest children have now gone to school have started on their plans - retraining, doing voluntary work, working, going to the gym, spending time focusing on their needs after years of childcare - and I can't help but be a little envious. Ok, ok, I'm a lot envious!

And it affects us mums more than dads. Sadly I'm coming to realise that partners and husbands don't really care, because for them it makes no difference if we were home educating or not - they have their jobs, their careers, their status, their respect, their peers, their money, their social contact - and when they come home each evening it would make little difference to them whether their children had been at school all day or at home. Perhaps I'm wrong, but I suspect as long as the meal is on the table and the house doesn't look like a bomb's hit it [I fail on both of those] then they probably wouldn't notice either way.

So what to do about it? I'm yet to work it out. All I know is us home educating mums who have spent years meeting the needs of everyone else, are fast becoming so worn out, emotionally and physically knackered, that we're at risk of not being fit and healthy enough to meet their own needs and do all the things we'd love to even if we did have the time and money! That is even if we could actually remember what our needs are (most days I can't even remember what day it is lol) .What a sad state to be in!

Money is certainly an issue that crops up among home educators. How to make more, how to make the little we have go further, how to not mind when we're surrounded by people who can afford all those extras (tutors, music classes, resources, nice holidays, cleaners, childcare) that make home educating life that little bit easier. Ok, so perhaps 'surrounded' is a bit of an exaggeration, but you know what I mean. Some days you just don't want to be in the company of someone who can provide their kids with all the things you know you can't. Why is it that the people who say 'Money isn't everything' are usually the people who have lots of it! Money may certainly not be EVERYTHING, but there are times when it certainly makes life that little bit more comfortable {g}. Still if chiropracters cost only pennies to go to and we had a car that wasn't slowly falling apart, then finances might be slightly more secure lol.

Please please don't let the washing machine break down. Anything else, just not the washing machine.

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