Friday, August 31, 2007

Putting the Kids on the Bus (or Not)

Janet made an interesting comment regarding my last post, and that got me thinking. I don't recall ever looking at a school bus and wishing I could put my kids on it so I could have some time to get things done. I'm not trying to make myself out to be a saint or something, it's just the truth. And I think I know why I never felt that way.

I had my first two children when I was 25 and 26; they were 18 months apart in age. Being a typically self-centered 20-something, I struggled with giving up my life and interests to raise them 24/7. Not that I didn't enjoy them, because they were a lot of fun (ok, exhausting fun, but fun just the same). But my dh worked 50-60 hours a week back in those days (before his industry went to China), and I was alone with the little ones a lot. The hardest thing for me was not having time to read, to write, to sew, to garden whenever I felt like it....those are things you can't do very easily with two little people running around.

My dh, being the wonderful husband he is, often gave me time in the evenings to do my thing. He'd play with the kids while I sewed in another room with a gate up, or push them on the backyard swings while I went shopping alone (so much easier than taking them with every time!) Despite his own exhaustion, he gave me as much time alone as he could. We both figured I would come out of my time alone refreshed and ready for another long day of life with toddlers.

The reality, however, was that instead of coming back with my batteries recharged, I came back cranky and a bit resentful. It was not enough. I wanted more. My selfish nature was dissatisfied with occasional time off.

But I loved my kids, and wanted to be home to raise them, so what I finally decided was that for me, it was better to make time to pursue my interests while I was home with my kids instead of leaving them to do things. From then on, I read the paper while they played in the morning. I gardened while they were on the swingset. I sewed during their naptimes. And I gave up writing because I couldn't concentrate on it while the kids were around. Writing ended up being put on the back burner (with occasional lapses) until the kids were teens.

And I learned that while I couldn't do everything I wanted to, I could do just enough reading, writing, sewing and gardening to keep me satisfied. I've stayed in that pattern ever since, even after having two more kids. So I guess over the course of homeschooling for the past 20 years, I made just enough time for my interests that I didn't ever think about sending the kids to school so I could get things done. Having them home was just part of daily life.


Marbel said...

I have sometimes found that to be true for me too - a little time away made me feel bad, not good - because I "deserved" more. I do have to admit it is wonderful when the kids become occupied with their own pursuits so I can do "my thing" at home with a little more frequency as they get older! And how good it is for a child to see Mom enjoying something (book, project) of her own now and then.

Janet said...

I kind of feel both ways after some time away. Sometimes I feel great, ready to tackle everything again, sometimes I feel the resentment you speak of. Probably some of that depends on my mood at the time, and a lot depends on where my relationship with God is at the time.

I agree, that as a homeschool mom you just need to learn to do things while your kids are at home. I definitely get things done, but sometimes I would having to wipe a bum....LOL! :-)

Barbara Frank said...

Marbel, I think seeing that Mom has her own interests is really important for kids, and especially seeing her read for pleasure.

Janet, I agree that it's related to where you are spiritually. And I sympathize with the desire to escape diaper duty. Our dsds14 was in diapers until he was seven...ugh!