Monday, December 11, 2006

Dads- Part 7

Next in the series on how Dads (or at least the Dad at our house) participate in the education of their children. (If you missed it, here's Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5, Part 6.

7) Dad gives Mom opportunities to take off her teacher/mommy hat.

One of the problems of running a business out of your home is that the work is never done. In essence, you are always on the job. Homeschooling can be a lot like that. It is easy to feel like you should always be doing one thing more. I think that is one of the reasons that so many people don’t make it through the first year of homeschooling. They can’t take the pressure of being continuously “on the job.”

Giving mom a break doesn’t have to be a big thing. It can be as simple as “Honey, I’ll watch the kids. Why don’t you go to the grocery story by yourself.” I like to grocery shop, I know I’m strange, but I enjoy it. So, it’s a treat to go by myself.

In the last few years, we’ve taken this concept to a new level. Once a year, I reluctantly take off my teacher/mommy hat to go spend a week with my sister. I say reluctantly because going out in the world by myself is like being Superman (or in this case SuperMom) and leaving my magic cape at home. For a week, I am just Janine, not somebody’s mother or teacher.

As a Mom, I feel powerful and brave. As a teacher, I feel smart. My sense of well being comes from a clean house, accomplished children and completed homeschool projects. While these things are good, they are not a good thing to base your life on. The routine of home can distract me from weightier issues like life, the universe and our part in it.

So I stop moving, and stand still, and hopefully think. It is not something I really enjoy but it is something important to do for me. Don’t get me wrong. I like my sister. The annual sisters’ getaway has been a very good thing but it is hard for me to be away from home.

I should add that my sister is an over-achiever. Each year she comes up with some huge project to do. Last year, I spent a week scanning family photos. My sister and I traveled to my aunt’s home in Chicago and my uncle’s home in Madison, Wisconsin. We literally spent every waking moment hunched over a computer. She would scan the photos to her laptop and I would enter the photo information into a spreadsheet on my laptop. At night, alone in my room, I would think profound thoughts about the people in the pictures. There is something about seeing the face of someone who lived and died over a hundred years ago that puts a new perspective of things.

While I’m gone my kids are having the time of their life. They spend some days and nights at grandpa and grandma’s house. They eat out a lot. Henry is working some from home to cover the rest of the time. They do mostly unschool type projects. So, this is a little vacation for them too.

Right now I’m in Kentucky at my sister’s house. My sister broke her ankle so it’s slowed her down a bit. This year’s project has been to go through boxes of my deceased parents keepsakes and papers. I have years of correspondence to look at. Some things are fun to read, others are painful. I’ve really had time to think.

I can’t wait to get home. I’ve thought of things I want to do differently in the coming new year.

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