I deeply admire you mommy bloggers who stick to a schedule and regularly post. For real: you’re amazing. Ever actually finishing anything that I start is a feat – taking the time specifically to write something just because I want to is next to impossible. Currently, I am seizing the 45 minutes of Evan’s violin lesson to write as a Radical Act of Self Care.
Aside: I love being on this campus. It’s the place where my parents met in 1973, where my mother finished up her degree hundreds of miles away from my father, writing him love letters from her freezing cold basement apartment. Heather’s living in this area was one of the many “signs” that drew me to her during early days – reliving my parents’ romance (as I lived in the same city that my father had all those years ago).
We’re more than two months into the actual nitty gritty of homeschooling all three big boys now. On any given day of the last two months, what I would have written about how that feels and functions would have been vastly different. It’s hard to summarize. Mostly this: we’re adjusting, all five of us. I think honestly that could still take…months? Into the next school year? There’s a process referred to as “deschooling” that kids and parents go through when the kids have already attended traditional school, and we’re there. It’s complicated. Most parents end up feeling like they did too much in the beginning, to overcompensate for removing their kids from the structure of traditional school. We don’t feel like we really have time to “unschool” for a single day of Isaac’s life. He’s 17! He was already a year behind in school. As far as he goes it’s so much pressure and leads to tumultuous interactions between us and him, between Heather and me. With regards to the other two, I think Heather and I are much more trusting of our parenting instincts than most people, and a huge part of the draw of homeschooling for us was the lifestyle. We have no interest in a highly structured school day – we will not be teaching our kids to the “common core standards” or submitting them to take state achievement tests. On the other hand, we feel that reading, writing and arithmetic are EXTREMELY important, and shudder in the presence of much older children in various homeschool groups who have exactly zero knowledge of any of those things. I’m not okay with any developmentally healthy 11 year old of mine not being able to: read, multiply, or tie his own shoes, and No, I’m not kidding. So somewhere in the middle of having an at-home school room and radical unschooling exists our family for now.
The kids are getting more sleep. Sometimes, like this morning, one or both of us is up with the baby early and has enough time to drink an entire warm cup of coffee, diaper and dress him, feed cats, and maybe even have a conversation before another child appears. For kids who had to be instructed not to leave their room before the sun came up for many years, this is huge.
Isaac has his first job, as a dishwasher at a chain restaurant in a nearby town. This is a relief to all parents’ souls, worrying about this giant boy’s future. He is doing tremendously well, being responsible and performing the job well. The trickle-down effect of its impact on his maturity level is immediately noticeable at home through small actions such as: he jumps up to do tasks like taking out garbage or washing dishes, especially when he can tell that the moms are struggling with a younger sibling or have had no sleep. This is huge! Simple requests were formerly never enough to get him moving, and he is now self-motivated to be helpful. We’ll take it!
Evan still goes to school one day a week – to the gifted program at the middle school. He also played soccer this fall and take violin lessons, so he’s actually pretty scheduled and has plenty of structure (which he LOVES) plus opportunities to socialize. I’m hoping that Asa will agree to play basketball and take piano lessons starting in January. We’ll see.
Oscar will be 8 months old this Friday. He’s one- third of the way to 2, and I feel like this next third of babyhood is a whole new phase. This is the third where he’ll likely become a walker and maybe even a talker, where he’ll increasingly ingest nutrition from sources other than my body, where his teeth will multiply. It’s bittersweet knowing that the days of your baby baby are drawing to a close – that soon, he won’t stay put where you set him down, but that his personality is so so sweetly, amazingly emerging more and more each day. He’s already trying to scoot around, not so much crawl since he hates being on his stomach, but move for sure. He’s leaving behind a large measure of misery, as well, which is delightful. He spends much of his waking time laughing, playing contently, exploring “bad” things as we jokingly call them (any object in the house that is handed to him that is not a baby toy, aka the only things he is interested in having). He hates the carseat a little less and is just generally becoming more pleasant to be around. On the other hand, he is also teething and we will not be checking the box in his baby book that says, “It was easy!”
The one thing I/we are feeling somewhat challenged by in this next baby phase is this: sleeping arrangements. So far, he has slept bedside in a Rock N Play. He is addicted to it. Attempts at relocating him have been unsuccessful, although also notably half-hearted, because I was not comfortable with the idea of his sleeping in a different room yet. He still nurses through the night, and I have absolutely no interest in walking down the hallway and sitting upright for that. Simultaneously, we’re not really okay with his just being in our bed period with no other sleeping surface available in our room. Not because we don’t want to co-sleep or bedshare – we’re fine with both*. It’s just that it’s super uncomfortable. He won’t “go” to Heather in the bed in the night, and he won’t let me change positions, ever. So I wake up with a backache in direct proportion to the amount of time he slept in our bed. Or a slightly dislocated shoulder. Sigh. It’s a bit of a pickle. I’d say he has a week or less before the Rock N Play is a major safety no-no. It’s already pushing it. (He’s going to hurl himself out of it with his burgeoning mobility abilities) Any suggestions? Pack N Play? Crib mattress on the floor? His crib won’t fit in our room to sidecar it so that’s not an option, and neither (tragically) is a king sized bed. Not that I think that would actually make a difference, because I’m alone with him three nights a week while Heather works and it’s not any better. I’m still not allowed to change positions. Help!
*To say I’m fine with co-sleeping is a vast oversimplification. I believe it to be our biologically normative behavior, and I am in love with this video about the topic (worth every minute of your time).