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03/24/2010

Be "Mom" First!

J0443149After many years of homeschooling all of our children, 13 years to be exact, I have reached a turning point.  I have put 5 of our 9 children in public school and will continue to homeschool 3 others at home (one is in college). 

Honestly, I feel a bit judged by both sides of the education world.  Frankly, though, I don't care.  We are doing what's best for our family at this time.

Our first child went to Christian schools for 5 years, then we brought her home to be schooled.  Five more biological children were born and homeschooled.  Throughout my full-time homeschool mother career, I have had many challenges on many different levels, including health issues, miscarriages, loneliness and fatigue.

As the children got older, past about 7th grade, I noticed a definite change in their attitudes towards homeschooling.  I found this particularly among my sons as sports became more and more of an issue.  My boys have played sports every way a homeschool family can, but they continue to want to play on a 'real team'.  I just can't get away from it.

Further, with the advent of 3 new adopted children from Ethiopia last year, we inherited a number of special needs that we weren't prepared to deal with.  Nonetheless, I purposefully committed to homeschooling 7 children last fall.  I knew it would be difficult, but I was determined to get the Ethiopian children speaking English and to give them time to bond to their new family.

By Christmas, my nerves were fried.  The special needs of our new family members was more than I could deal with on a daily basis.  The teenager's attitudes were deteriorating, not only with school/sport issues but further complications arose as all of the children tried to learn to live together.  Sometimes biological children have personality struggles, can you image what grand opportunities arise as three new family members enter the home with no English and very different cultural habits?

Something had to give.  My husband and I talked, prayed and researched.  We made the decision to move to a small town.  That small town has a small school district that has embraced us and our 'special needs'.   The staff of the public school has been more than wonderful and accommodating and is an answer to prayer.  Of course, any decision of this magnitude has quite a number of moving parts.  My intention is not to seem simplistic here, just brief.

Finally I have realized what was missing in our family...my ability to just be 'Mom'.  I don't want to be everyone's coach, therapist, ESL teacher and nagger about homework not turned in.  I want to be 'Mom', the one they want to come to and share problems with over cookies and milk.  I have grown weary of chasing teenagers around trying to collect assignments.  The years are short, I want to preserve those relationships. 

The three children who are still at home with me are a kick to be with and teach every day.  It energizes me!  However, I believe the transition to school will take place sooner than later, even though the time isn't now. 

I have found the freedom to do what I need to do to find balance in our family.  If the yoke I carry is breaking my back, it's the wrong yoke.  I'm glad I can see it now.

Original post to Ohio Moms Blog.

Kelly also posts at www.themorristribe.net.

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