Maybe it’s just fretful me, but sometimes, as a rookie homeschooling mom, I feel a lot of pressure to look like I always have it together and that my children don’t just know their ABCs but are reading living books (by themselves) and are always well-mannered. Part of the pressure I occasionally pile on myself (and unfortunately upon my hapless children, too) has to do with my own insecurities and perfectionist tendencies, but oftentimes when people discover I’m homeschooling they make assumptions about me being a super mom and/or my children exhibiting nothing but studious, polite, and calm behavior.
Take for example our friendly mail carrier (she’s the best we’ve ever had!). Back in August after we’d just moved into our new home and were eager to introduce ourselves because at our house getting the mail is big-time excitement. We were engaging in small chit-chat when she asked how old Madeline was and where she’d be attending school in the fall. She said she was homeschooled, and the woman’s eyes lit up. “Oh, that’s wonderful,” she said. “I know some families at my church who homeschool, and their kids are amazing.”
Oh boy. So many great expectations. I think we blew a bunch of them the other day when she came to deliver the mail, and I was chasing after M.E. who had pulled off her pants and was headed straight for the street, and Madeline and Rae were in our wake screaming.
This wasn’t the only incident this week that revealed our true, very human colors. We happened to move in across the street from a former professor of mine. She’d been traveling in Japan and who knows where else and had recently returned. She came by to see us and discovered I was with child. “Is it another girl?” she asked.
“We don’t know,” I told her. “We decided to keep it a surprise.”
Meanwhile, Madeline was hopping maniacally on one foot – the one foot that had a boot on it (she got it off yesterday!) because of a broken ankle.
“Please stop hopping like that. You have a broken ankle,” I said. (How many times do I have to remind my child she has a broken bone? Nothing stops this girl from having more energy than plutonium.)
“Oh, what happened there?” my professor asked. Madeline proceeded to tell her about jumping off the brick wall onto our driveway, pretending it was a pool.
Then sweet Rachel added, “And Mommy was locked in the van with the alarm going off and told Madeline she was fine and to just get up and get her the keys.”
(In my defense, all I saw was a minor abrasion on my firstborn’s knee, and I really did think she was having a drama queen moment and just wanted to quiet the blaring alarms of my van so we wouldn’t disturb our quiet, little street.)
At this point in the conversation, I noticed a child who is not my toddler eating grass. “Please don’t eat grass.”
“Oh, you don’t want to eat grass,” my former professor agreed.
Grass-eating child spits it out. In our direction. Then I noticed another child precariously walking along the same brick wall that was responsible for the broken ankle.
“No! Get down!” I shouted.
Through all of this, our typically sweet dog is barking like Cujo at our friendly visitor.
“Mind your manners,” I nag, speaking to the dog but hoping my offspring might take heed as well.
“Well, I’ll let you go now,” my neighbor-professor says. Peace be with you, I think, then maybe I’ll live vicariously through you.
I might as well tattoo “Overwhelmed” on my head.
And yes, she knows I homeschool, too.
Oh, but it gets better (worse?). Earlier in the week we had some neighborhood friends over to play. Their mom is super nice and has said once or twice that she doesn’t know how I homeschool. After her daughters’ most recent visit to my house, she may be thinking, “Well, maybe she doesn’t homeschool too well.”
First the feudal lord of our home (AKA 2-year-old Mary Elizabeth) pushes one of her girls. Then she hits her. Next she pushes Rae who is wobbly in her dress-up heels and nearly tumbles down the staircase. I’m not ignoring this aggressive behavior, but I’m supposed to not be picking her up as much because of recent contractions (at only 25 weeks), and she’s acting out. If Mommy can’t hold her when she wants to be held, she rebels – often physically.
Then I discover 3-year-old Rae, saying the word “vagina” and giggling because well, you know, we homeschooling families believe in using only anatomically-correct terminology. My preschooler, like a lot of children her age, thinks potty humor is funny (frankly, I do a lot of times, too), but I’d prefer her to giggle about poots and bums, not vaginas.
I did apologize to the mom and warned her that her children might be adding a new word to their vocabulary, and she was wonderful and very understanding. Still, I feel like we’re quickly shattering every wholesome image of homeschooled families. My apologies to my fellow homeschooling families out there.
The fact that I openly discuss on this blog how I try to embrace gentle mothering and/or natural/attachment parenting – whatever you want to call it – also sometimes makes me feel like I’m setting myself up for failure. The past week or so I’ve been anything but a peaceful parent. Our house has been a mad house and regrettably more than once, I’ve been a mad mommy.
The other day I discovered my two older girls had for the umpteenth time wandered out our side door to the front yard and left the door open so that their toddler sister could follow after them. This is an ongoing and obviously potentially dangerous situation.
“M.E. is outside!” Madeline shouted.
Well, I was in the middle of going to the bathroom – really going to the bathroom (if my 3-year-old could read this, she’d giggle and say, “Mommy was going stinky poopy!”) – and could not immediately spring to her rescue.
After I prematurely ended my potty break, I ran outside and hollered at the girls. Then I looked up to see another neighbor waving at me. Oh, hi. How are you? We’re having a moment, but we really are a happy, peaceful family!
How many loser mommy moments can one mom endure?
Did I mention I’m also famous for being the mom who put the wrong boot on her toddler? When we took Madeline in for her ankle to be x-rayed, the doctor told his physician’s assistant and nurse about the time M.E. had a boot and how I was worried because she was limping until my husband pointed out that I’d put the thing on her good leg and therefore, she was putting all of her weight on the injured leg.
(Yes, two children in boots in less than six months. I don’t need the “overwhelmed” tattoo; the boots say it all.)
The doc, who’s thankfully a parent, too, as well as a friend of ours, joked, “Now remember it’s Madeline’s left leg that has the broken ankle.”
Let’s switch gears now. I want to talk kitchen gadgets. I realize this will either make you giddy or groan. My mom prefers to get Cubs paraphernalia for gifts; I ask for kitchen appliances much to my husband’s chagrin. To each her own. Anyway, I’m very happy with my food processor, Crockpot, KitchenAid Mixer, and Zojirushi BB-CEC20 Home Bakery Supreme 2-Pound-Loaf Breadmaker, Black“>newly acquired bread machine. (It’s a beaut, no? It makes delicious bread, too. I don’t care if it’s cheating. It’s a wonderful gadget.)
Recently, I’ve been pondering whether a waffle iron and/or ice cream maker might be worth the investment. I don’t want to buy unnecessary gadgets that won’t save time and money in the long-run, so I’m on the fence about these two items. The girls do enjoy waffles for breakfast, and the Kashi brand I usually buy for them is on the pricey side, but I’m not sure if I’d really end up regularly making waffles. I occasionally make homemade whole wheat pancakes, but I frequently stick to quick and easy breakfasts like cereal or oatmeal. What do you guys think? Is a waffle iron worth it? If so, what brands/models do you recommend? I’ve heard there’s an inexpensive one at Wal-Mart (can’t remember the make) that does the trick.
As for the ice cream maker, we have one of those balls that after relentless tossing the thing around makes about what feels like a tablespoon of the cold, creamy stuff. After attending a birthday party recently with real homemade ice cream courtesy of the Cuisinart ICE-30BC Pure Indulgence 2-Quart Automatic Frozen Yogurt, Sorbet, and Ice Cream Maker“>Cuisinart brand maker, I started to wonder if splurging on this appliance might be a tasty and worthwhile investment. The vanilla ice cream was delicious, and I was told it’s very economical to make all kinds of ice cream. But does my family – or do my hips – really need to have access to homemade ice cream all of the time? Your thoughts?
Please pray for my sweet cousin. She made her Confirmation last night with me proudly standing by her as her sponsor. It was my first time playing such an important role in the spiritual upbringing of someone other than my own children, and it was a humbling, beautiful experience.
I gave her a stunning, handmade rosary my friend crafted with her talented hands using Swarovski crystal and also an autographed copy of Happy Catholic: Glimpses of God in Everyday Life“>Happy Catholic: Glimpses of God in Everyday Life by Julie Davis, the writer behind the popular Happy Catholic blog (complete review forthcoming, but this is a gem of a book – highly recommended!).
My cousin chose St. Therese of Lisieux as her Confirmation name/saint. St. Therese is a favorite saint of mine. I’ve been pondering her “little way” a lot lately and recently opened up to a random page in her autobiography The Autobiography of Saint Therese of Lisieux: The Story of a Soul“>The Story of a Soul (hoping to find a good quote to write in my cousin’s Confirmation card), and this is the first thing I read:
“I did not deserve the graces heaven showered on me. I had many faults. It’s true that I longed to be good, but I had an odd way of going about it. As I was the youngest, I wasn’t used to looking after myself. Celine tidied our bedroom and I never did a stroke of housework. But after Marie entered Carmel, I sometimes used to make our beds – to please God. Sometimes, too, when Celine was away, I looked after her plants. As I did this for no other reason than to please God, then I shouldn’t have expected thanks for it. Yet, if Celine didn’t look surprised and pleased, I cried with disappointment.
My extreme sensitiveness made me quite unendurable. If I ever offended anyone accidentally, instead of making the best of it I wept bitterly and so made things worse. Then, when I’d stopped my weeping, I’d start all over again and weep for having wept.”
Oh, dear St. Therese, your are my beloved saint. Pray for me!
I’m fresh out of takes – rambling, quick, or otherwise. (Who’s counting?)
Have a good weekend!
Thanks to Jen for hosting.