Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Out of Sorts

I feel so out of whack theses days.  I don't even know where to start.   As I logged into Blogger to type an update to this current pregnancy, I tried to look through the blogs I "follow" (and I use that word liberally since I can't tell you the last time I actually had the time to read things that weren't related to either a near 2 year old or 5 year olds) and I realized that I'm just so disconnected.  I haven't even been to this space in a year until two posts ago, and even before that, I was a pretty light poster.  Which, when you look at the years before and take into effect that I'm supposed to be writer, is sad.

But back to the disconnected feeling. 

I wanted to click on the blogs of the folks I once thought I knew, these women that I used to pray for and talk to regularly, who made up a core group of understanding friends, and I realized that I don't know most of them anymore.  I've kept up with some, and I'm grateful for the modern technology and texting plans that have allowed that to happen even with all the crazy in my life, but for the most part, I don't know what is going on in their lives.  Reading an update would leave ,me with more questions than answers, and that, I think, is a pretty good overview of my life these days.

Most days, I feel like who I am is hidden- I cant say gone because then I'm afraid I might not know where she went or how to get her back.  The days feed into one another and the weeks go by without any rhyme or reason.  The last few I've been able to keep up with because each Monday flips me into a new week of pregnancy.  I keep up with the months because they bring me closer to Michael being aged in years instead of months.  But, for the most part, it's just MoTuWeThFrSaSuWhereAreWeAgain.

Homeschooling is tough stuff....Not for the faint of heart.  It's been clear since we started hardcore last summer, but I think pregnancy has put it into even more perspective.  When I was pregnant with Michael, Bobby and Maya were in preschool two mornings a week.  They visited my in-laws one day a week, and I was able to just sleep when I needed to and rest during the day.  They also took three hour afternoon naps, which meant I had another slot to rest (and a spot on the two days where they were home all day).  After Michael was born, they were in camp three mornings a week, visited their grandparents one day a week, and Peter was home for the day during the week where we were all together.  Then, they were in school five mornings a week while I was home with a baby who still nursed and napped much of the morning, so I was able to nap right along with him until my life got back on track hormonally and I wasn't so tired. 

Now, I'm so utterly exhausted all the time.  Trying to balance schooling, playgroup, weekly field trips, plus the nights I teach and have other obligations, like music and scouts, I'm a walking zombie at times.  Pregnancy really slapped me upside the head this time and it's harder than Michael's and, honestly, harder than I anticipated.  And that just adds to the unexpected stress that homeschooling had already leveled at me.

I'll be honest and, hey, maybe I'm in the minority of homeschooling parents, but I absolutely despise it.  I think it's a great thing in general and, truly, it is the right choice for our kids.  It's amazing to see them "get" things and to see how we are able to really tailor every single subject into their needs and enjoyments.  But the ground work that goes into it...  The dealing with the autistic outbursts and trying to judge exactly what is too much/too little/the right tool/the wrong tool and making sure things are put in play as they have to be to stop said meltdown.  Some days, I don't even know what I've done right or wrong to create the outcome and the stress from that alone...  I'm lucky that I know a homeschool mom who is a similar situation so I don't feel crazy or like it's just me, but that doesn't make it harder.

And the kids are smart.... Like really smart.  So trying to keep up with them without pushing them too far or not pushing them hard enough.  Sheesh.  We finished our kindergarten curriculum in six months in about 90 minutes, four days a week.  They have different strengths and weaknesses and Bobby was ahead of Maya in some subjects while she was ahead of him in others, but by January, we had busted out the few first grade books we hadn't already opened.   Based on their current activities, we'll be done around Michael's birthday in July, give our take a week.  Which means August brings us a second grade curriculum.  I'm sure, with an October baby, things will slow down for us, and I don't plan on buying the third grade curriculum with the idea that we would get into it early.  I could always order it if need be, but my thought is that with the types of work in second grade, we will slow it down.  But still, that's a workload... And second grade means Sacramental prep, so that's more activities and more to do in a schedule that already seems crazed.

I'm trying not to stress about it...  Clearly failing in that way, but I tell myself that things will be fine.  People homeschool with babies, multiple aged/leveled children, different needs, etc.  We can do it... Right?  Of course we can.

There's a fair amount of my homeschool stress that is of my own making.  I have my own ideas about it is should go, how I want it to go, etc.  and those ideas don't usually (always? ever?) mesh with the kids and their ideas or needs.  Which makes it tough.  Since deciding to really play off their interests and desires, it has gotten easier in the application but not in the stress levels of Mama's end.

Part of the out-of-sorts comes from selfishness, too, I think.  I know what life was like before having kids and I know how much time I was able to give to my own interests.  Now, with a hectic family life, there is only so much time to go around and someone has to get shortchanged.  Daily, I feel like that is me; after all, who else can it be?  (I think my relationship with Peter gets shortchanged too, truth me told.)  I teach a few classes a week, and that money keeps us going on field trips and enjoying those days out.  I have GS stuff, which Maya loves and, while it's a lot of work, I enjoy spending that time with her and the Troop.  I'm active in church, which is a nonnegotiable and, now that Maya is in the children's choir, that's another layer.  There will be cross country again in the fall.  It keeps for busy days and nights and weekends that are rarely "free".  It doesn't leave much time for personal running, which is my version of Xanax, or writing, which is my place of inner peace.

I remember that royalty checks used to give me a sense of pride and accomplishment; now, they make me sad.  They are a reminder of what was, and of what I can't seem to make time for.   I've tried.... what feels like a hundred different ways.... I've tried to make the time to dedicate to my craft, and I just cant.  I need more than the "take an hour" here or there.  It's something non-writers don't really understand, I guess.  Nonfiction writing was easier because I could pick up research and lay it out, then take time to pull it together when I had time to spare.  Fiction doesn't work that way; at least it doesn't for me.  Even when it is part time writing, it's hours- not minutes- that I need to be able to spare.  Otherwise, it's not a promoter of peace, it's just another cause of stress.

But there's no time.  Even now, to write and get this out, I'm taking time away from something else that "needs" to be done, that I'll have to rush through, that wont be done "right" in order to just get done.  It's exhausting.  I'm exhausted. 

I'm so done most moments of every day.  And that just leads to more trouble.

I'm not the mother I thought I'd be.  There's more yelling, less laughing, not enough fun, and too much stress.  I spend a part of at least every other day (and sometimes days in a row) hiding for a few moments to just let it out with some tears while it sounds like the house is falling down around me.  When Peter gets home, it's no better, it's just different.  Then there's me running from one place to another to do something for someone else, there's making dinner, doing laundry, trying to spend a moment decompressing from the crazy before to prepare for the crazy that is coming. 

I'll rest when I'm dead, right?  Kids are only young once.... This too shall pass... The minutes are long but the years are short....  It was yesterday that Michael was born, let alone that the twins were born- I know that time goes by so quickly.  That doesn't make the sense of tired and the stress that feels so heavy go away.

I've heard that the first few years of taking on homeschooling can be the hardest and I'm hoping that is what this is.  Three kids, five and under... the stress and hormones of another pregnancy... the schooling and just typical household worries.... 

But I would love to feel a sense of balance return.  Even my 108 Sun Salutations at my Equinox yoga class wasn't able to accomplish that.


Marianne said...

Big hugs Hun! It sounds like you have so much on your plate. Thinking of you. Xx

sunflowerchilde said...

Hi Michelle, I'm so happy you've posted again, I think of you often and wonder how things are going. These last few posts really hit a nerve with me, I feel quite similar. My kids haven't started school yet, but I can't imagine homeschooling. I am so looking forward to having a few hours each day to get stuff done and just breathe. I'm finding the current age of my twins (4.5) to be a HUGE challenge, and I often miss the baby and toddler years when things seemed so much simpler. I also feel like I don't get much time for me. And that nothing I do is ever appreciated. But anyway - I wanted to let you know an acquaintance of mine also tried homeschooling because her son was dyslexic and still couldn't read in second grade, but she ended up last only a year because she really didn't like it. I suspect it's more common than people think to give up homeschooling. I also think that many of these stresses of modern life come from the lack of community and extended family that we have here in America. Women didn't use to be so isolated - they had a whole village to help with meal preparation, child care, homemaking, etc. It makes so much more sense! I often think that we've really gone backwards in how we've structured our families and communities in ways that isolate people. Anyway, all that is just to say that I feel your pain, that it IS so hard, that I know I'll miss all this as my kids get older, but that doesn't always make it easy to cherish it now. I'm thinking of you ... and sending some hugs your way.

Lisa G said...

Wow, you sound really stressed. Is there any way you could take a short break from homeschooling to rejuvenate? It is Easter and spring break, maybe the grandparents could take them for a couple days to allow you and your husband to relax and reconnect. Do any of the local churches offer spring break daycare? (They do in my area, kind of a mini VBS) If only for a couple hours, you need to put yourself first and take care of your needs.

Jane said...

Sounds like you've been holding yourself and everything else together for a long time, and you need to get some of these concerns and frustrations out! Do you follow Wendi? Sounds like she may be a good person for you to connect with in terms of the difficult pregnancies and the emotional side of this, homeschooling, having 3 and then 4 young children at once, etc.

In terms of homeschooling, I'd probably try to slow things down with the formal curriculum and add in reinforcing exercises/materials as much as you can. Wendi may have ideas for this too.

Will be thinking about you and hoping you can sneak in some runs here and there ...

Queenie. . . said...

It sounds like A LOT. You are clearly a great mother.

But YOU matter, too. Yes, the days are long and the years short, but a happy, healthy, rested mama has more in the well to give. Is there some piece of things that you can give up? Can you hire someone to clean and do laundry? Even though you are homeschooling, can you put the kids in enrichment activities (long ones!) a few days a week (maybe start a coop with other homeschooling families to play soccer, paint, socialize, anything?)? And even if you feel like homeschooling is great for the kids, maybe consider NOT doing it. Family decisions have to work for the whole family, and there is no shame in deciding that things have become too imbalanced, and trying something different. You could always return to homeschooling if your other option didn't work out. You need to take care of YOU, too. Plus, the twins are at an age when it fosters their independence to have activities away from mom and dad, whereas Michael and the new babe are at ages that need more of your attention.

Whatever you decide, good luck, and hang in there. You are right that you won't be in this space forever.

Brigid said...

Just reading this made me exhausted! I can't even imagine...seriously. You are freaking AMAZING and I know you're a top notch momma. Don't be too hard on yourself. Carve out some time for running and dates w/ Sarah bc I love the stories you guys have. St. Agnes, pray for us ; D