Home Education Magazine
January-February 2005 - Articles and Columns
Homeschooling Moms Find Their Own Paths - Marjorie Sangster Rolleston
In a one-room cabin, in the middle of winter, I sit with a handful of homeschooling moms, mugs of hot chocolate, coffee or tea warming our hands. Conversation flows easily between these long-time friends, uninterrupted by children needing help putting two pieces of Legos together, asking for a snack or reporting on what a sibling was doing to him or her.
How can this be? Easy. Our children are all in their teens and twenties. Several of the "children" weren't able to make this mid-winter get-together due to their work and college class schedules. Those who were in the vicinity were skiing, sledding, running through the woods or congregating in another cabin with friends.
So what do homeschooling moms talk about when their children are on the verge of launching into lives of their own? Ourselves! And the topic that comes up more and more often is this: What do we moms do with ourselves now that our children are becoming more independent?
We have had the privilege of watching our children make discoveries, pursue interests and follow where life leads as they have grown into remarkable people. None of us have been sitting on the sidelines while all of this was going on. We were, and still are, right in there with them discovering our own new interests and honing our skills along the way. Our challenge now is to take the knowledge and experience gained from raising these outside-the-box-thinking people and apply it to our own lives.
I have learned from these women and others with whom I have spoken over the last several months. First, all of these women were full-fledged people with interesting and varied lives before I met them in the midst of motherhood. Second, while each may have put her own interests and pursuits on hold while her children were very young, all have eased their own interests back into their lives as their children have grown older and more independent. And third, once their children are nearly independent all of the moms began to seriously talk about, consider and pursue their own interests. To this end, three paths emerged: resuming or expanding an existing career; pursuing a newly discovered passion; and going after a long-held dream. The experiences of several women provide examples.
One woman, whose children now attend public school after a decade of homeschooling, looked at her options and decided to return to her former career of nursing. Her flexible schedule still allows her to be with her children during many of their out-of-school hours.
Another, who had continued working part time throughout her children's early years, was offered an amazing full-time job when her children were in their early teens. She took the job while her husband happily cut his own job to part time.
For some, pursuing a child's interest can lead to a new interest for mom. Several years ago, a friend's son became interested in birds. His mom helped him pursue his interest by taking him to a local bird observatory dedicated to research, education and conservation. While his interest was fleeting, she became hooked and over the years has participated in many hours of birding. She recently completed the training necessary to become a bird-bander and during her first season, banded a species of bird that is extremely rare in this part of the country.
Other homeschooling moms I know have been well aware of their talents and interests all along, but as any parent knows, one's own interests often get put on the back burner while our children are young. This period may last even longer for homeschooling moms. The diapers and naps may disappear, but the chauffeuring and counseling increase to fill great amounts of time. But in those down times, some of us manage to squeeze in more and more of our own work.
One friend, an artist, gave private lessons and painted from her attic-turned-studio for many years while her daughter was young. A little over a year ago, she decided that she would follow her dream and rent studio space in the arts district of our city, in a building filled with other artists. She still sees her students and is available for her teenaged daughter as needed. But since she started working in her studio, she has become more productive and has begun selling her work again.
I count among my friends artists, political activists, scientists, engineers, nurses, writers, a psychologist, an ornithologist, an alternative health care provider, an actress, an architect, a genealogist, a chemist and an editor, and every Them is a homeschooling mom. It only makes sense that these accomplished, creative women would turn their energies outward as their children grow into adulthood.
Back in that cabin, one woman, a mother of four and a grandmother to five homeschoolers offered this advice: "The best thing you can do for your children is to live a full, active, fulfilled life. This is one case in which you truly must teach them by your own example. If your grown children spend one minute fretting over you, wondering if mom is lonely, depressed or needful, you are doing them no favors." This, from a woman in her seventies who has a part-time job, lots of friends, and rides a toboggan down a steep driveway to her mailbox during winter!
Transition is inevitable for everyone regardless of age, gender or occupation. We homeschooling moms have just spent ten- to twenty-plus years actively involved in helping our children become the happiest, most fulfilled and thus, successful people they can be. We have the tools and the skills to transition into this next stage of our own lives being equally happy, fulfilled and successful. Our children would expect nothing less from us!
© 2005 Marjorie Sangster Rolleston
January-February 2005 - Articles and Columns
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