My Mother Thinks Homeschooling Will Ruin My Kids

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Anatomy is fun!

It is February and we are more than half way through our first homeschooling year. My oldest child will be 6 years old next month, kindergarten age. My second child is 4 years old but she is using kindergarten curriculum. Then, I have my 2.5-year-old and my 4 month old baby. It has been a learning experience for us all. Home based learning is an adventure; difficult, wonderful, and filled with messy fun.

I sometimes place pressure on myself, especially since my kindergartner is struggling to read (and frankly, not very interested). Sometimes I push her when my instinct says to let it go, allow her space to lead. I am aware of the eyes on me, watching and waiting for me to mess it all up. I take a breath. I stand tall. I remember that I am her mother, and I know what my child needs.

It is hard to remember that because of my own mother. My mother is highly involved in our lives, in a good way. She is a young and active grandparent “Nana”. My girls adore her! She adores them! It is beautiful. Yet, my mother is also opinionated and stubborn. She believes that homeschooling is the worst thing I could ever do to my children, and I am not exaggerating.

She has told me bluntly that I am setting my children up to be failures. According to her they will be uneducated, socially awkward, and have barely a fighting chance in the world. These are her words. The words of my own mother. They cut so deeply—hurt so badly.

How can she say that to me? Does she think I am so incredibly incompetent? Am I so stupid that I would not realize my children aren’t doing well? Am I so oblivious, or do I care so little? How can she believe these terrible things?

Why must my children sit in a brick and mortar school with 25 other kids in order to learn anything?

Why must they have recess and lunch in order to socialize?

I can’t wrap my mind around her utter disdain and absolute disapproval. I could understand if she preferred public school. I could understand her having some worries. But to insist that my children will suffer and not learn anything, that I cannot comprehend.

I can’t even speak to her about it anymore. She seems so angry about it. I am so close to my mother besides this point, which makes it hurt even more.

I want to talk to her about the activities we are doing. I want to share the joy of watching my girls learn something new. I want to involve her in my girls’ education, just like she is involved in other areas. But I can’t, because she will explode with hurtful words like arrows into my heart.

I am not sure how to manage this with her, but I am sure that I will do what I know is right for my family.

No Longer Religious

I just wanted to make this statement as a way to inform everyone that I am no longer following a Biblical faith. I will write about the whys another time. For now, I have to say that it has been a painful decision but the right decision. I gained a lot from 8 year walk of faith. I also lost some things along the way. I experienced beauty, love, comfort, and community. I experienced oppression, confusion, and alienation.

I am making this statement so that I don’t confuse anyone who saw posts about my faith. I wish you all the best in the world. Shalom. Peace to you all.

The Big Needs of my Little People

It is winter time again. The ground is lightly covered with snow and ice traps my windows shut. It is beautiful but the first wave of winter sickness has entered our household.

I was the first to get sick, but I continued on with the many daily tasks; as well as organizing and cleaning after the holidays.

Today was the first day since Christmas where we had some intentional and structured homeschooling. The apartment was cleaner and more organized, and I had high hopes of folding my laundry and getting outside.

Those hopes were dashed when my adorable 4year old daughter Liora came walking into the kitchen looking a bit pale. She told me her tummy hurt, and before I could say a word she threw up all over the floor.

“Oh hunny! I’ll be right there. Your okay, your okay.”

I put my 2 month old son quickly down into his bouncy seat. He immediately started crying (my fussy boy).

I grabbed towels and wipes and new clothes for poor Liora, and helped her get cleaned up.

Baby screaming. “I know I know baby! I will be right there!”

Ok, Liora is cleaned up. I sit her on the couch with a light blanket.

Baby is still screaming.

I jog unto the kitchen to wash my hands and get poor crying baby boy but Zipporah my 2 year old wants me.

I can’t pick her up until I wash my hands, and the baby really needs me but none of that matters to a 2 year old who wants mommy NOW.

I drag myself over to the sink with Zipporah who is holding onto my leg wailing “UPPY! UPPY!”

I wash my hands, pick her up and give her a hug. “Mommy loves you Zipporah. I had to wash my hands so I don’t give you germs. I’m sorry. Your sister is sick.”

After I give her some quick  cuddles, I turn to my poor screaming baby and pick him up finally. I kiss his sweet face and nurse him. He settles in happily, finally getting what he needed.

Now I go to sit back at the table and realize that my tea and soup are luke warm. Sigh.

I give up on the soup which was already reheated twice that day and I bring my untouched tea to Liora because she needs to replenish her fluids.

My oldest daughter Noemi wants to play a game with me, she wants to take out her microscope and do some science with me. She wants me, her mother, to just sit and be with her.

When one child is sick, it can be so difficult to meet the needs of the other small children (and babies) who need you!

I was very close to my grandmother Rose, and talked to me right before her death about how she adored my babies and she thought I was a wonderful mom; but she warned me that it would be so hard to meet all their needs if I had more.

She wasn’t negative towards me having more, but she knew something I didn’t know yet. She told me that “you will miss some things” even when you don’t mean to. My grandmother raised 6 children, and so she knew this struggle.

She was right.

It is hard to strech yourself out enough to be present for each child, each day. The truth is that we have to go by who needs us the most at what time. I try to be fair, but I know I won’t always get it right.

That is why I am doing my best to forge a relationship based on strong communication with each of my children. It starts with babyhood, when I am in tune and receptive to their needs. And it changes as they age.

My 5 year old Noemi took me aside this evening and said to me “mommy, you were with Liora today…no time for me”

I felt sad that she didn’t feel like I was with her today, but I was so thankful that she was able to tell me! She trusts me to enough to tell me. She trusts me enough to know I will do something about it.

Fernando has off of work tomorrow, so Noemi and I will do something together just the two of us. Daddy will stay home with poor sick Liora, and watch the youngest two. Noemi and mommy will do something special together.

I will come home and I will have 3 more little ones with BIG needs. I will do my best to be there for each of them.

Mothering means that my laundry didn’t get folded today, and I didn’t shower until the afternoon.

Mothering means focusing on the little people in my life over things.

Mothering means being needed, a lot; and seeking to meet those needs while recharging for myself too.

Whew. Time for sleep.

(Until my 4 year old wakes up and gets sick on her bed)

Journey to Breastfeeding- Part 3 (Nursing Aversion, Pregnancy)

Baby Liora and I settled into a nursing routine. I knew when she would want to nurse, and she knew exactly how to nurse. My breast was her comfort, her nourishment, her contentment. She would rest her chubby baby hand above my breast and fall asleep dreamily. Often times I would hold her there after she unlatched and gaze at her beautiful face, smiling at something in her sleep that I couldn’t see. What do babies dream about? I wondered.

Soon she was crawling, and she loved to move! This was a much more adventurous baby, I realized, than my oldest. I had to baby proof many things I never had to think about before. But still, we nursed. I was still that safe haven to come home to after exploring and moving her body around.

She began sprouting teeth! Now many moms will say “once they have teeth, it is time to wean” but my baby didn’t seem ready to wean at all. She was nursing often, including at night, and besides one or two episodes of biting after she dozed off at my breast, her teeth were no issue for me.

I loved laying down in bed with her and nursing her to sleep. I adored how peaceful it was. I lovingly stroked her golden hair, which was by now growing longer. I was so enamored with her! It was a joy having this special place together, something we shared only between ourselves. It was an extension of the womb, my body caring for her body, my substance giving her strength.

Perhaps that is why I was caught so completely off guard when it fell apart. I never imagined, on those sweet nights nursing her, that in only a month she would be weaned. But deep inside my womb, another life had quietly buried, and announced their presence by altering our nursing relationship.

My milk began to dry up, totally. I had read that most women lose a lot of milk, some lose all, and some lose none. I was not prepared for how quickly my body took my milk away from Liora. I was hardly pregnant before I noticed that I was waking up each morning totally dry, whereas before I was covered in milk from night nursing.

I decided that even without milk, I would nurse Liora for comfort. She was SO attached to breastfeeding, I knew she was not even close to ready for weaning. But I was caught by surprise, I began to detest nursing her! How can this be? What is wrong with me? Why do I feel this horrible feeling every time she latches on?

Nursing Aversion!

I had never heard of it. I would not learn what it was until well after my 3rd baby was born. I had no idea why all of a sudden, whenever Li started to nurse, I wanted to scream and rip out my hair and tear her off my body. It was the worst sensation. I started begging God to give me pain rather than this creepy-crawly-scream-and-run feeling. It is impossible to explain unless you have felt it. It is not being uncomfortable. It is not painful. It is an unbearable sensation.

Perhaps, if I had been aware of this possibility I could have endured it. I don’t know. Probably not. I have so much respect for any woman who has, because I quickly could not nurse her.

Even when it broke my heart. Even when everything inside of me said “nurse your crying baby! She needs you!” I tried. I tried so many times. But each and every time the sensation was immediate and intolerable.

By 13 months, Li was weaned totally. It took two weeks of her daddy staying up with her all night. She couldn’t be near me because she wanted to nurse. I felt horrible. I was so sad. I thought it was all over, she would never nurse again.

But, I didn’t know there was still a future for us as a nursing couple. This journey was not over yet….

Coping with Stress

Don’t you just wish some days that you could pack a bag and head off to someplace sunny and beautiful and remote? Where you could sit on the sandy beaches and let your feet touch the foamy waves? Most importantly, someplace where your bills and responsibilities cannot find you? Today is certainly one of those days for me.

This month has brought about the dreaded STRESS. The details don’t really matter, they change every time, but the STRESS is always the same. For someone in recovery from mental illness and/or drug addiction, stress can be particularly damaging. We tend to have a more difficult time coping with the stressors of life compared with people who have not endured our struggles. After all, we got high mostly to avoid whatever uncomfortable emotional state we were in.

For those of us with mental illness (of any kind) stress is a big trigger for symptoms. It is extremely important to know what you can and cannot handle, and ask for help if you are overwhelmed! I have made this mistake before.

As mothers, we tend to feel the need to take care of everything. We are caring for little ones and running around from here to there, hardly taking notice of our own needs. Some days I just collapse into bed without having done a single thing for myself because I have been meeting the needs (the many needs!) of these little people around me. However, this is not good! Especially during stressful trials, it is essential to care for yourself and ask for assistance where you may need it.

When my oldest child was only a baby, I endured a lot of hardship in my marriage and actually ended up in a family homeless shelter for a few months. I was under a tremendous amount of stress to find a place for us to live and enough resources to live off of. I held it down while at the shelter but once I found a tiny closet of an apartment for us to move into, I just fell completely apart.

I was incredibly depressed. I was hardly functioning at all. I was lost in my head all day long tormented by my PTSD. I was taking care of my daughter in only the most basic of ways; her clothes were clean, she was getting bathed, she was fed, her diaper was changed—but I was NOT okay! I really needed help, but what held me back from asking?

Shame!

Fear!

I was scared of disappointing my mother and everyone else. I was constantly in psychiatric units as a teenager and young adult but I had finally been doing well ever since I got pregnant with my daughter. I felt embarrassed to admit that I was no longer doing well. I was ashamed.

I was fearful of what kind of reactions I would receive. Would I be deemed an unfit mother? Would I be seen as a hopeless case? Would everyone be terribly disappointed in me?

I was also very reluctant to leave my baby daughter, who was very young and very attached to me. How could I leave my baby, even for one week? How would my mother take off work? It just seemed impossible, and I didn’t want to burden anyone with helping me.

I have to tell you; I really regret not asking for help. Although I didn’t start getting high again (by the skin of my teeth), I did fall back into some very destructive behaviors. I also realize now that the best thing possible for my daughter at that point was for her mother to be mentally healthy. It didn’t matter that I was with her physically if I was distant and unable to care for her emotionally. Maybe only one week of rest and therapy would have improved my situation.

I wish I could tell you that now I always ask for help whenever I need it. I wish I could say that I learned my lesson and I don’t need to learn it again. This would not be entirely true. There have been other times since then where I really wasn’t doing so well and had put too much on my plate. I still do not like asking for help.

However, I have gotten much better at knowing my own limitations. If something is just too much for me, I acknowledge that and remove it from my life. I am currently in school with the goal of getting my R.N, but I am going to school part-time because I know my limitations and full-time school plus caring for my children is just too much for me to handle. I felt bad about that at first. I felt like a failure. I felt like I would never be “normal”. Now I understand that this is just who I am and these are the struggles that I have. Learning to work with myself rather than hating myself for failing to meet the expectations of others has helped keep me mentally healthy, and improved my ability to perform well in school and other areas of life.

So, back to this being a particularly stressful month. Sometimes the stress in our lives is not something we can control! This is the worst kind of stress, because we can add the feeling of helplessness to it. Again, this is a good time to ask for help. If you don’t have a person to help you (keep trying to find someone!) there is always One who we can go to for help to endure our trials—our Father in Heaven! Our Savior, His Son!

Pray. Pray. Pray. And then pray some more.

Read psalms. Read stories of how Yahweh has helped His people over and over throughout time. Take comfort in His ability to help us. There is a lesson to be learned. There is something, somewhere, that is good to come of this trial.

I hope you take comfort in that if you are struggling. I know I do.

And you know what else really helps stress? Hugs from your children. There is nothing that can more quickly change my heart from fearful and stressed out to calm and peaceful than hugs from my baby girls.

I wish you peace. Shalom.

*Relevant Scripture Verses, brackets inserted by me*

Romans 8:28 We know that all things work together for the good of those who love

God[Elohim]: those who are called according to His purpose.

1 Peter 5:10 And after you have suffered a little while, the God [Elohim] of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ[Messiah], will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you.

Romans 12:12 Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer.

Psalm 91:4 He will cover you with his feathers. He will shelter you with his wings. His faithful promises are your armor and protection.

John 16:33 I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world. [words of Messiah]

James 1:2-8 Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him. But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind. …