Writing Therapy

I’m really dragging this morning, so I’m going to try a little writing therapy before tackling school. I suppose I could start laundry, but really I ought to wait until Dean comes home because it’s the day for his laundry, and he’ll have more dirty clothes when he comes home. I could clean because the house is a mess, but honestly, what else do the kids have to do except play and make a mess? And who cares, anyway? No one is coming over. So I’ll write.

Writing articles for pay on BlogMutt has been nice. I don’t earn too much, but everything I do earn is profit. Nothing Dean earns is profit. (He tells me not to worry about that, but yet he keeps reminding me of it.)

I learn a lot while researching for those articles. I know about burning scalp syndrome, benefits of having vinyl flooring when you have pets, teachers who practice self-care methods, bionic prostheses (that was my favorite article so far!), and reasons for businesses to hire a snow removal company. Sometimes I learn new trends… did you know there’s a trend called “family management?” Parents are parenting as if the family is a business. This raises the importance of family life to equal (or above) the importance of work. In fact, it’s a synthesis of all aspects of life… looking at everything you do together, maximizing quality time, making sure all members of the family are contributing and being treated fairly. I’m veering toward jealousy here. Maybe it’s just being wishful.

I love to learn, but I often think it would be better for me in this house if I remained dumb. Maybe I would be cleaning the house instead of writing.

I think I should start school now. I was hoping, through this process, I would come up with some brilliant plan for the day. Something new and exciting to take us away from our doldrums. Maybe we’ll go to the library later. Bleh. I like the library, but that doesn’t sound fun. Even the Olympics are getting old. We have to go to Grandpa and Grandma’s house to watch them because our TV antenna is broken, and then the kids are difficult when I decide it’s time to go home… (Mom can go home and get our pajamas and toothbrushes and stuff… we’ll stay here…why can’t we have a sleepover?… Because you have one sleepover, and that’s in summer… And then Eddie sits on me.)

I really should start school now. I don’t feel better, but I think I loosened my brain up a bit.

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Escape in the Homeschool

Escape… from everyday life, from drudgery, from normal days of school, from people we spend too much time with, from our own minds… This sounds a little on the scandalous side, as if I might be talking about drugs or some other addictive habit. But really, I’m talking about stories, imagination, and art.

Life can feel constricting sometimes. Long division problems creep up to get you. Copywork stretches endlessly down the page, no matter how much you write. Your mother keeps turning the pages while you’re reading out loud, and you don’t think it’ll ever end. And then there are the boring moments when nothing you could play with seems interesting. For homeschool mothers, there are those loud confrontations you wish you could run away from (except you can’t, because you’re supposed to stop them, train your kids not to argue without being argumentative yourself).

Escape is necessary for sanity. Some days require more of it than others. Lately, our read-alouds have been excellent for escapism. We’ve enjoyed The Witch of Blackbird Pond by Elizabeth George Speare, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl, and Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH by Robert C. O’Brien. We escaped into colonial times, into a yummy fantasy, and into the underground world of super-intelligent rats. Much better than staring out the window at melting snow!

Sometimes I wonder if escape is somehow unchristian. You know, we’re supposed to live in this world though we are set apart by God. But isn’t death the ultimate escape? And aren’t we called to fix our eyes on the goal of eternal life? We are not to fix our eyes on the things of this world. True, the above books I listed are things of this world, just not things of our particular household. I don’t think any of this makes escapism bad. As in all things, we need to keep our motives in check. I think it’s a good idea for me to balance out my fiction escapism with Bible reading and devotional-type reading.

I learned that some books are the opposite of escape: books that cause me to examine my life closely. I really have to balance those out with escapism, or I get too upset with my failures. I wonder if that’s a key to healthy homeschooling: balance out the close examination of schoolwork with plenty of leaps into imaginative work. Sounds good to me.

The Unhurried Homeschooler

Sometimes you just need a book about homeschooling that you already completely agree with! The Unhurried Homeschooler by Durenda Wilson (2016) is a book I can back up. Listen to this:

Keep in mind that a child’s attention comes and goes. Sometimes kids become energized from our excitement about starting school, and they dive in and surprise us with how much they learn and how quickly. Then their enthusiasm wanes… but that’s okay… As parents, we have to remember to remain calm in this process. Resist the urge to freak out!

— from page 27

I think I spend my life resisting the urge to freak out. I also like this book because the author talks about how simple and uncomplicated her homeschool is. As the kids grew, she slowly added more work, facilitating their interests, but always getting the basics covered. This is encouraging for me. I usually plan more than I do, and that could lead to a guilty, freaking-out feeling, but usually it doesn’t. I know when we’ve covered the basics. I know the kids are always learning, no matter how much school we do.

I’m glad I found this low-key homeschooling book. It’s like a nice big breath of encouragement.

Love and Respect

A caring friend lent me a book called Love & Respect by Dr. Emerson Eggerichs, 2004. It’s a book about marriage. I’ve begun reading it, and because I process things better once I’ve written about them, I am going to write about it on a separate blog. If you are interested in joining me as I tap out my responses to this interesting book, please go here.

Incident at Hawk’s Hill

School goes better with read-aloud books. We get our other subjects done, too, but the read-aloud books are the heart of our learning. Sometimes the books are assigned from our history unit study, and other times I pick books somewhat randomly from the library. The book we finished today was one I’d never read before, but it was in the Newbery Award section of the library, so I gave it a try.

The book is Incident at Hawk’s Hill by Allan W. Eckert, 1971. I’m not going to pull a quote because it’s all so intimately intertwined. In fact, if I had to describe this book in one word, it would be “close.” This is a psychological thriller for children. The reader becomes psychologically close to a female badger in the prairies of Canada, and the reader also becomes psychologically close to a small six-year-old boy who gets along with animals better than humans. There are parts where the closeness is almost too much. When a character is stuttering with emotion, it’s pretty difficult to keep myself from crying as well. And when the contents of the badger’s lunch is described in great detail, it’s gross. Yet, I’m not complaining. It’s a unique book with great characters, and even the villain isn’t two-dimensional. Plus, it has lots of great nature lore, and it could be read for science class. I know much more about badgers now than I did before.

Hmm. I wonder which book we should read now?

The Kitchen

The Kitchen by Carl Larsson, 1898

Here’s a bit of loveliness to cheer up a gray day.

I read an article about teachers who choose to practice self-care are then happier and better able to deal with the emotional-social drain of their teaching job. I imagine that applies to motherhood and homeschooling as well. In Charlotte Mason terms, it’s called “Mother Culture.” The crisp lines, bright spaces, and homey details in this painting are my self-care for the day. It doesn’t have to be complicated, right?

Flawed Personalities

With so many personalities rubbing against each other on a daily basis, it’s no wonder the flaws reveal themselves so quickly. There’s a person who doesn’t get along very well with almost anyone. Calm one minute, bored the next, and soon rubbing against others, revealing the things about them that he can hate. And then there are those who are naturally sweet, but their sweetness turns against them, causing them to be sensitive and prone to tears that won’t be easily wiped away or even explained. And this becomes to others a despised weakness rather than a reason to express comfort. Still others learn to cover up their sensitivities so they can’t be despised, and thrash out physically, becoming a tough person, better than others.

And then (don’t tell me you don’t have this in your house) are the similar personalities, quick to be angry at each other, quick to name faults and remember previous bad episodes. Also quick to forget and joke with each other. But sometimes having two of the same person can be too much for the opposite personalities, who thought one was okay, just right, but two was something not bargained for. And that personality cringes inwardly, a lot, trying to hide behind something, but as we already discovered, the hiding places have been worn away. We’re raw.

We’re needing grace, not cover up. We’re needing love, but we find ourselves wondering if it’s okay to hate if we’re hating the bad parts. We’re needing improvements, but we find everything falling apart. We’re needing God, and He’s there, and He’s willing to help, but He never said we weren’t beautiful in this rubbed-off state. He never said He would save us by putting us in protective bubbles. So this is where we’re at, here, right now. And apparently, this is what we’re called to live with: wounded, bleeding hearts, sensitivities, parts scabbed over and healing, parts broken and hurting. A black and blue life. And we’re called to love those we rub against most.

The hope: God never gives us hard things to do without also giving us a way to do them.