It's not because I'm struggling with the actual decision. That part is over. I re-read and reviewed all the reasons I started homeschooling and I agonized and talked it out and wrote about it. It was a long, hand-wringing, crying, waffling time of reckoning, but it's over. Mostly. Sometimes, in quiet sad moments, I'll remember why I started the adventure to start with, but I know in my heart that mostly I'm just remembering the good parts. And then I let myself have a little cry for that season being over and then celebrate that a new one has dawned.
Just as when I announced the decision to homeschool, I was clear to say that it wasn't a criticism of the teachers or schools, I now want to be doubly clear that the decision to put the kids into school is not a criticism of homeschooling. In fact, I am more than ever, convinced that those who are able to put the time in to homeschool are doing their kids a great service. I don't agree with the naysayers who insist that socialization is lacking, or that the advantages of the public system outweigh the advantages of homeschooling. Having done it, and having spent time with several very grounded and 'normal' homeschoolers I can promise you that it truly does offer some very unique, valuable and incredibly important opportunities and lessons. Opportunities and lessons that are not available in a public system. I sincerely applaud and admire all the homeschool parents out there and wish that they could all know how amazing they are for doing the incredibly important work they're doing. I wish they could all feel their value and recognize that overall, they are having far more successes than failures.
But alas, in the past year I have found my mind wandering. I have found myself wanting to explore other things. I have found my creativity in homeschooling waning, and been feeling a pull to activities that inhibit my ability to homeschool the way I want to (this is the real crux of it). I probably would have returned the kids before now, but was so encouraged by the many homeschooler parents who manage to work (both in and out of the home), or who take a year off, or who are contented to truly 'unschool' and allow their children to follow their passions and trust in that. But I am self-aware enough to know that I am just not one of those people. I have just enough A-type in me to need standards and expectations and when I can't achieve them (however arbitrarily set they are), I feel like I've done both myself and the kids, a disservice.
So I finally stopped feeling guilty about wanting to do other things and let myself consider public school for the kids. And I feel good. Really good. I know teachers at their school. I've chatted with another former homeschool mom who put her kids into that school. I can now say that I'm confident that this is the right thing for right now.
And I know that many homeschool moms will be wanting to send me encouragement to reconsider, with the very best of intentions. Don't worry moms, I know I did an awesome job! haha. I have had the BEST time, MOST of the time. I will never ever regret this time. Ever. I am proud of how we did what we did and I think I've planted the only seed I was intentional about planting: a love of learning. (A love of farming was a secret seed that I think I also planted in most of them...haha). I look forward to continuing to nurture these seeds. We've all agreed that the part we're going to miss the most is Morning Basket and we all said that we hope that we can plan enough ahead the night before to be able to eek out a quick moment of morning basket before the bus (I'm sure I'll laugh at that in retrospect after several mornings of utter chaos).
And I know that many friends and family will want to send notes of encouragement for making this decision and assurances that it's the right thing. And I know that too. It's the right thing right now. Don't tell me my kids will be better off, because I'm not sure that's true. They may not be worse off, but they won't necessarily be better off either. However, they will certainly enjoy themselves and we will all enjoy the experience of new things, new opportunities. And go into it knowing that there will be inevitable moments of doubt or angst, just as there was with homeschooling. Such is the nature of the beast of parenting.
The last three years have been one helluva an adventure and one I wouldn't have traded for the world. And no one is to say that it's forever in the past. I have learned to never assume anything when it comes to these kids. But for now, we're on a new path and I'm looking forward to some one-on-one time with Sol (although he's a bit of a daddy's boy and will take time in the barn over time in the house any day). The three olders are all on board and looking forward to the adventure. Wilson was trepidatious, even reluctant at first, but thanks to the INCREDIBLE book, Wonder, he feels ready to face the unknowns and says he's actually excited now.
So, I'm off to round up 'school clothes' and lunch boxes and backpacks and indoor shoes and all the rigamarole that comes with the territory. Guess what's going to be under the tree this year!? haha!
I hope this finds you finding joy in the season, as the third candle says. Knowing January was on the other side of Christmas, we are having a lot of fun making the absolute most of this advent season. It's been my favourite Christmas already and it's only the 10th of December. :)
The candles of advent are so timely and perfectly named, they really are the frame I build Christmas upon. For those of you struggling this time of year, I wish you peace and that you can find someone who you can let help carry and share your burdens.