I curled Madeline's mile long hair at 6:30 this morning. It takes about 40 minutes. I love curling her hair, I really do. But she likes it curled about 3-4 days a week. It's so long that I have to do small pieces around a 1" iron. The entire time I'm curling, she's texting and snap chatting; often times sending snap chats of me to her friends while I'm curling her hair. My hair is all wild and I probably have an I-hate-mornings scowl face with half-closed eyes since she drags me out of bed and I go straight to her room. I don't know what she would do without her phone and internet. It's crazy. I think her phone is glued to her hand. I try to look on the bright side and recognize the fact that at least texting requires her to read. That girl hates to read. Always has.
Teagan asks all the time when she is going to be able to get a phone. "Twelve? Thirteen?" she asks. I realize that smartphones are part of the culture now, but I don't want it to be, and I am going to hold off on it for as long as I can. I don't have a smartphone and I don't want one. Half the time I can't find my cheap, slider phone. If I do have it handy, it's dead or going dead.
I read a blog post yesterday on Simple Homeschool entitled "My Favorite Thing About Back to School." Jamie got me thinking about the difference in mornings between getting ready for public school and getting ready for homeschool. She reflects on all the little things she enjoys about her children in the mornings and what it might be like if they had to catch a bus or shovel their breakfast down. She wonders if her children would still do those same sweet things that she enjoys. She's never sent her children to public school. But I have, and still do with Madeline. So I could easily tell her what it's like here.
"Rise and shine." I would usually say if we weren't running late from the start. I would start out super nice because I hate for them to be woke up with loud noise. I ended up having to almost pull them out of bed by their toes. And by the time we would be leaving, everyone was mad or sad or whiny, or if it's Teagan, in tears. Breakfast is, in fact, shoveled in...sometimes not finished. On most mornings, somebody would have to run back in and brush their teeth while we all wait in the car. I would end up having to honk on the horn because if they didn't hurry, we would be late. "You should have thought about that," I would say. "You should know that you have to brush your teeth every day that you wake up." There were times that I wouldn't remember to ask if everyone had brushed their teeth. Then halfway to school I am scrambling for gum for the one who forgot, and harp on bad breath and how nobody would want to talk to them because of the smell. I hate to think of how I probably made them feel. I forget things. I know how it feels to realize I didn't do something I was supposed to do and hope that it wouldn't be mentioned so I could avoid "that talk." I know I made their heart sink by remembering to ask. Teagan has actually lied about it before so she could avoid it. Imagine that. My 7 year old lying because she doesn't want to experience the wrath of her mother at 7:30 in the morning. I would get so consumed in being on time that if I even thought we we're going to be late, my stress level rose to the boiling point---three, four, and five days a week. Three kids in three different schools with the longest distance being 20-25 miles apart, and they all have to be there around the same time. Not to mention morning traffic is horrific. By the end of the year (Ok, with three months to go until summer), I was CRAZY.
We're all naturally night owls around here too. It doesn't help. I can't do my real housework until everyone goes to bed, so I'm usually cleaning the kitchen and washing clothes at midnight. I try to get in the bed before 1 or 2 a.m. It just catches up with me. Teagan is just like me. On good days, I'll tuck them all into bed around 9 p.m. and Teagan will come walking out around 11 p.m. saying she just can't go to sleep. So here she has, laid in there for 2 hours...just laying. Poor thing. It catches up with her too which is probably why she left most morning in tears. She was tired. But, we had to do it. The government says so. School is mandatory.
But it took me 9 years to realize that while school is mandatory, how you do it is up to you. When it was just Madeline, it was OK. There wasn't much stress, if any. We got up, we got ready, we went to school. But now there are three more sheep in the herd.
Jason works all the time (like 80 hours a week). I am left with everything else. When we argue it's usually bad. He brings up the fact that he has to work to make all the money, and I bring up the fact that, though I make no money, I have to give three baths, brush three mouths at least twice a day, fix three heads of hair, plate three breakfasts, three lunches, and three suppers like I work in a prison kitchen, wash 3 loads of clothes a day or 10+ on Saturday, wash every dish that is used by hand, lay out three sets of clothes, three sets of pajamas, and put to bed three kids who just don't like bedtime. Not to mention fold or hang all the clothes and pile up all the clothes that don't fit or are out of season. I have so many clothes in this one house that I could open a store, and they.are.everywhere.
I am so thankful that Madeline is old enough to do most of this herself. So, yes, my house is probably a mess and I probably haven't had a shower----on most days. It's really a shame because I like clean houses and showers just like the next person.
So we argue and we make up because we both realize it's the stress of each of our lives--he clocks in two weeks worth of work in one, and I do and do and do for three little people who depend on me to teach them through my words and actions. And both are just as important.
But, thankfully, a lot of that has changed by changing the way we do school. My stress level has really gone down. There's not a whole lot of pressure on me like there was. We don't have to accommodate anyone else's schedule. The kids are allowed to stay up a little later and get up when their little biological clock tells them they've had enough sleep. They wake up happy and refreshed. They come in the living room smiling and wiping the sleep from their eyes. I get to snuggle with them and love on them and get under a blanket with them before we even have to start the day. They don't hate mornings anymore. They don't have to hear my voice and hear the stress turn my tone into something the devil is controlling. They don't have to hear me constantly barking the same orders every morning.
I hated that stress. That stress would flow over into the afternoon when it all started again----feed them, bathe them, brush them, put them to bed. Public school leaves NO TIME. No time for clean houses, no time for all the clothes to be washed and put away, and no time for me to have a shower. I was so worried that one day they would grow up and be in a hurry for everything, barking orders at their kids just like they were taught. It would be my own fault. I showed them that that was how it was done. I was worried that we were in such a hurry all the time and under so much stress that I would end up sending my last one off to college not really knowing who they are or not being able to recall the little things I love about each one of them. Did I really have time, or did I actually make time, to know each one of them--each different little personality? But not anymore. I want them to love life. And I don't want them to stress over the little things that, for us, going to public school caused. I want to enjoy them. I want to know them. I want them know themselves and be free to find out who exactly they are. And yes, I want them to live in a clean house most of the time where they don't have to push clean clothes out of the way to sit on the couch. And I want them to have a clean momma every day. Because a clean momma is a happy momma. =)