Oh, February, you got me again, I think. I went into winter thinking all would be fine and all I know is for about three weeks I have felt….
A little lost with how to continue to juggle all of it in homeschooling and my own need for self-care and self-nourishment….Even frustrated….
Juggling children of three wildly different ages within the Waldorf curriculum is often difficult. Going from nursery rhymes and baking and fingerplays to geometry and algebra and historical events back to drawings and working on basic early grades skills through mythology to fielding housework, outside activities, the unexpected is a tall order……Oh, February, really, it is too much for one mother at times.
And for everyone, the things that will drive one to darkness will be different. For me, it is not the cooking or cleaning on top of homeschooling that trips me up. Those things are fine. The harder part is the mental exhaustion from the juggling of three very different ages, stages and attitudes. I am so very tired by the end of teaching time for three separate people that I really can’t combine due to large age gaps… The harder and darker part for me is often juggling the “should” for each age and how the “should” would look if the entire school day was devoted to each child’s grade or developmental level…. and maybe there would be some hours for me…instead of an all day, all hours being “on” from 5:30 in the morning until 8 at night….Have you ever felt that way? Perhaps not, but that is where my feeling life has been the past few weeks.
I talked to some dear friends on Friday, which left me feeling more cheery – to have just laid my soul bare in an honest, almost angry-sounding way and to have people not judge or try to fix it but just to say that they often felt the same way. This was, in and of itself so very freeing. This beautiful freeing gift. Because then what I could find in it all this weekend was the peace.
Peace that what I am doing and striving to do IS enough, even on the days I fail.
Peace that it is okay to juggle things, to move things around, to ponder. To plan anew or to cut things out.
Peace that it is okay. Just okay is certainly enough.
Peace that I am human…..
But the peace is also coming in seeing the whole, big, wide picture. The big, wide, picture is what often carries me through….. Coincidentally, I was today reading the “Teacher’s Manual” for a Waldorf fourth grade grammar program (“The Teacher’s Manual for English Workbook for fourth grade” by Ted Warren). One thing that struck me was this beginning sentence: “The main goal with teaching is to guide our children into a healthy relationship with their thinking and willing between the years of seven and fourteen…”
Am I doing that for my children to the best of my ability? The big picture prevails.
Is it perfect? No, of course not. Nothing in life is. But is it acceptable?
Can I always strive and change things to flow better, feel better? Of course.
February, you have not won. I am finding the peace in my weeks of feeling darkness toward the endless juggling. I can continue to juggle for a bit longer. At least until the end of the school year!
In the meantime, friends, I am going to encourage you to start planning now. Planning really saves you in times of February darkness. Planning, rhythm and community help you shore up what meager reserves you may feel you have left until you feel restored again.
Because you will. February doesn’t win forever.
Oh, Carrie, I was in a similar place throughout January. I didn’t want to start up again so I let our Christmas holiday extend itself by weeks… I felt overwhelmed, exhausted, inadequate. The dark, rainy days of our Pacific NW winter certainly didn’t help boost my energy, and so I almost panicked.
But then we celebrated Candlemas to mark the halfway point between winter and spring. Very simply. We lit some candles, and colored some suns. We watercolor painted. And FINALLY, after months of wondering what all that talk about the healing nature of wet-on-wet was all about, I understood why this gently approach to learning is called healing. And so January didn’t win.
I still struggle. Holding a rhythm – for the housekeeping, the schooling, and plenty of time for unstructured play for two very little girls (5 & 7) along with enough quite solitude/rest to care for my introverted self – is my biggest challenge. But I keep at it, and as I do I feel a flow that is our very own developing. It doesn’t look like the rhythms written about in the manuals I have, but it is working for us, and it is anchoring me, so that’s a good beginning. For now that’s good enough.
I wish you peace as February draws to a close, and you carry on juggling. I am reminded of this Ash Wednesday sermon I read on the blog Interrupting the Silence. It is just the message I needed, with just the right note of humor. Perhaps it will speak peace to you as well:
“On and on I went describing the expectations I had for myself. Then I told her, “It’s not working. I can’t hold it all together. Things aren’t turning out like I planned and intended….When she stopped laughing she said, “Well, welcome to the human race. Who do you think you are?” She could just as well have said, “Remember that you are dust and to dust you shall return.”
Peace in dustiness,
Carly – I love that; it is just the whole of being human!
Blessings this February,
Wonderful and honest blog entry. am right with you in the dark February feelings. It is so refreshing to share and not be judged. Thank heavens for good friends who can lend an ear. (I too spent time with a dear friend and that did help.). Take care and thank you for sharing!
Thank you… You know o was feeling exactly the same way and couldn’t see any light at the end of the tunnel. And even though nothing has really changed , just reading your post has shifted my perspective and also has made me feel part of a “community” . Not so alone as a mom with work that seems to never end . Thanks for every post you write
I feel that way too and I’ve only got a 2 and a half year old ! 🙂 I think you are doing a more than ok job but glad you found counsel in friends it’s so important – friendship, especially the kind you talk about (non-judging and not trying to fix things) so very important.
I can relate! I have a few in different stages as well and have been trying to distill what I want to relate, teach and inspire them with for this age too. And I am making plans to seriously restructure February next year. It’s tough. The i between place where the light hides.
I reassure myself that parents who send their children to school often feel the same way. It would be so hard in February to get children home from school exhausted and then need to complete tons of homework, while all the same household tasks need to be completed. Homeschooling in February is hard, but so is schooling in general.
I think so too, Tara! If you have multiple ages with large age gaps and they all went to school, you are still juggling!
Sending LOVE Carrie, and standing shoulder to shoulder with you in this! My feeling is that we did not hibernate quite enough, as nature implores us to do, during the winter months. Here in England it has been a time of illness for almost everyone we know.
WISE illness that brings its firm message to stop, rest, let go… of all plans and commitments and just be… for surely that is most important in between all the juggling and scheduling and trying to get this and that done?
Just BEING WITH our children and ourselves, where we are right now. Even if that means having an extra week of holiday and all laying in bed together one day, reading stories and snoozing… or having a leisurely walk somewhere completely different, out of schedule, with lunch on the hop from a café, looking out for the first Springtime flowers… time for us and ourselves! Time for love and fun and laughter! Where is that on the syllabus? Something to blow away the cobwebs and let fresh life breathe in…
Spring is coming, dear wonderful, tirelessly hard working Mamas.
‘Til then, stay warm, stay well, conserve energy, and wait for its life-affirming swell!
Red, yes, I think so…and I think it is important to schedule a little break in February if you get right back to school in January.
Oh, yes, I can relate! (I have blogged about my own little versions of this recently, too.) The amount of time we are “on” is hard, but the big picture is so helpful, isn’t it? Reassuring, even. For me, it isn’t about the month, specifically, and more about the ebbs and flows of celebration. (February is a ‘red’ birthday month and one of celebration. It feels bright, to me, after January, which can feel ‘blue’ after all the celebrations of December. What Carly, above, posted resonated deeply with me, as well!)
You are so wise to get time with friends! Even if I cannot get together with my friends, a telephone conversation can help so much. I have one particular friend, a kindred spirit with whom I connect mutually, so we can both offload and get support. She can relate in a different way than my husband. Between the two of them, I feel lifted again.
Peace, light, love, and reprieve to you!
I just posted yesterday about Inner Peace! Must be February. This was the month when my boys were little when I would go visit schools thinking I couldn’t stand it anymore and I was going to give up homeschooling! Then I would connect with friends, as you say Carrie, and loosen my grip on resentment a bit. Such a good point that Mamas of traditionally schooled children probably feel this way, too. It doesn’t help that the high temps here are just above zero. I like having a “one week off” block in mind for just these times, simply a book and a few activities in mind say about snow, or animals, or baking that all ages can do together for a break from the routine Something that would be super fun for me so I can get my joy back.Thanks so much Carrie for this message: the peace comes from knowing that what we do is enough, even on the days when we feel like we’ve failed. February, you have not won.
Jean, that is wonderful! I will have to go and check out your post!
Thank you so, so much for being here and sharing with all of us,