One year ago, in the face of a dooming pandemic, I made the difficult decision to homeschool.
Oh, I worried.
I worried about FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out). I worried about them becoming hermits, afraid of unfamiliar shadows. I worried about them being taught by their mom, because as a former teacher myself, I know the power of a teacher’s ability to reach students in a different way than other teachers, parents or friends and I wanted that for them.
In all honesty, I still want to be that for other students.
I worried about them being left behind, especially as they witnessed their friends still attend our beloved, local school.
Ultimately, I went with my gut and we had an incredible year.
Spring arrived and with it, the hope of the pandemic’s near-end.
I started to prepare the girls for their return to school in the Fall, casually mentioning how cool it would be to wave to their friends in the hallway on their way to P.E., Music or Art class. Did they know the Fall Festival was already booked for this year? Were they looking forward to the Fun Run?
But upon Summer’s dawn, doubt settled in.
A vaccine, that I had traveled to another state to get just so I could get it as soon as possible, was available and yet, less than half the country had opted to receive it. The country was split- my body, my choice/ our country, our responsibility.
Now, variants are on the rise and social distancing measures, including masks are still required at school.
Holding a Masters in Elementary Education, I am in a unique situation.
My husband has worked from home since the pandemic began and I am able to stay home to teach with hired help to occupy the girls not currently in lesson.
Moreover, apparently I made homeschooling too fun. All three big girls have begged to continue; and while part of me felt that this was fear-based on having been away for a year, I couldn’t bring myself to convince them that their school could provide a better learning environment than what we had going on right in the Carawan Classroom.
My *entire* experience as a parent has been blessed with the wisdom of my elders: Don’t blink. Cherish these days. It goes by SO fast.
Combine the pandemic, the pressure from my children, the wisdom of my elders and my innate joy in continuing to teach my daughters, and here we are.
Her name was Linda Houghten but I called her “Linda Hoe” because I hated her with a passion.
My mom was inherently a saver. As a child, we lived on bare minimums so that my mom could put enough away for a better future. She was the CEO of a software company- a black sheep in a male-dominated industry. She was inspirational. A badass. When business was struggling, she and my step-dad went without paychecks to keep the company afloat but her savings stayed put.
Her scrimping paid off- the business became extremely successful and so was she- a sought-after keynote speaker across the country. So, when she finally had saved enough to redecorate our 80K house, she hired the best.
Enter Linda Houghten.
The woman who wanted to change everything.
Generally, I’m not a vindictive or hateful person. I think carrying hate is more exhausting for the bearer than the target. But if I were to see Linda in person right now, I can’t say I’d give her a hug.
And it’s all because she made our house more beautiful.
My mom’s bedroom looked like a hotel room, so did our living room.
Patterns, slip-covers, window-treatments- the whole works.
I hated it all because it was change.
I’m the kid that cried when our area code changed from 804 to 757. I’m the kid that used to tape plastic containers over the ant hills when it rained because I couldn’t bear to witness their hard word ruined in a flash.
Consistency felt safe. Change felt terrifying.
So when it came to my piano bench? I stood my ground.
She wanted to cover it with a floral material.
My mom could see the hair rising on my back and knew when to fold.
No, the piano that my father had gifted me would not be touched.
Victory was mine.
I’d lost the rest of the house, but I’d won what deeply mattered to me:
That’s where I was headed in 2005, with a roommate I’d spoken with for months over AOL but had never actually met in person. We had the lease to our apartment and I had a lead to a job as a script-writer with Dreamworks Studio.
Instead, I pulled the plug two weeks before I was set to move.
It remains to be, the road not taken for me.
In place of California. I lingered on the East Coast taking a room with a family of 6. In exchange for room and board, I provided care for the kids. As the youngest of 8, I had never had 4 younger “siblings” before and was terrified. Quickly, I adapted, finding myself taking particular interest in that first grader mastering reading.
I read the book What Color is Your Parachute by Richard Nelson Bolles and shockingly wondered if he could be right- were the childhood games I played as a teacher my destiny? Had I known and denied all along?
I moved back to my hometown in my own blissful, 1-bedroom apartment, and volunteered in the fourth grade classroom at my tiny, private elementary school, just to see if it was worth pursuing.
And, oh, it was.
I. Came. Alive.
Yes, this is where I was meant to be all along.
Until I had my own four children and stayed home to care for them. I quit my job as teacher and became Mama.
I started my own blog to continue my pursuit of writing.