(I wrote this last night. Some thoughts and reflections on the last two years of being a “school mom” with a chronic illness and of the start of our homeschool time)
We had Kindergarten graduation today. The kids have one last day of school tomorrow. Which means one last school night. Maybe for a long time, maybe forever. There’s something cultural about a Mama saying “not tonight, it’s a school night.” I remember when I was a child my mom having rules on “school nights”. Even though my son only goes to school in the afternoons we get him to bed at a good time because “it’s a school night.” Tonight he’s in bed for one last school night after an exciting afternoon and evening. For some reason, homeschooling doesn’t feel like you have “school nights.”
Every new beginning comes from some other beginnings end.
This ending is hard for me. After nearly a decade working in a Montessori school myself, I desired to send my kids to Montessori school someday. Then we had him and the “plan” became to homeschool. We did Montessori based homeschool for a bit. Until we moved and I got sick and he got lonesome. I am excited to homeschool and get back to “the plan.” I’m also really sad that I missed out on so many of the parent-side of things. Being a volunteer in the classroom with reading, helping teachers with crafts and cleaning, PTO meetings, etc, etc. All the things the involved families do.
As I sat in the graduation today and visited with people afterward I felt like an outsider. I was so sick I never got plugged in. I only got to know a handful of Mamas and mostly that was standing in the drop-off line. I’ve spent the majority of the last two years either being sick or trying to catch up on work from being sick.
To be honest, I’ve spent the last two years trying to survive, get dinner on the table, stay out of the ER and heal my body. I’m walking away from a community that seems incredible and I got plugged in at all. I never did any of the “school mom” things. I even missed our last parent-teacher conference because I had reacted to a food and was feeling awful. That’s been hard.
I worry about homeschooling and my health. I worry what I’ll do on days I don’t feel well and if I have another crash. I worry about missing out on school time and what it will look like if things are bad. Several people in my autoimmune community homeschool. That gives me hope that it’s doable and they’ve provided some resourced for bad days. We aim to be screen-free so I will need to have some tricks up my sleeves 🙂 Fortunately, I’m feeling better and better each day.
There’s a great homeschooling community out there and I look forward to it. I look forward to seeing what it’s like to experience a totally different way of learning that I’ve ever experienced before. I also look forward to the ability to spend leisurely afternoons in the sun, travel to see my Grandparents and enjoy time with them while we have it, exploring museums, libraries and new places. I am going to continue to progress in my healing and get better and better each day. My plan is that I can get plugged in enough with the homeschool community that they’ll be there to help if I need them.
As a former teacher I imagined what it would be like to be on the parent end of things. It feels like a blur of carpool lines, Friday folders and hoping I would feel well enough to go to the bigger events. Of being sad that I didn’t feel well and missed out on evening parent events, passing up afterschool playdates because of fatigue and pain, and having a new understanding for what some of that Mamas I’d known when I taught went through. I’d worked with a few moms who were sick and I can relate better to them now. I wish I could go back in time and get advice from them on being a “school mom” with a chronic disease.
It also feels like encouragement and love from the handful of Mamas I did get to know. It feels like comfort and peace knowing my boy was going to school where his teachers would love him. He had incredible teachers and for that we are blessed. I knew I could shoot an email saying I’d been ill and they’d give him some extra love. When my hubby was unemployed, we were moving and I was back in the ER they helped make the time so much easier for all of us. He would come home from school peaceful and tell me that he’d gotten hugs. His teachers asked how I was doing and gave us love. I think getting away from home was what he needed to find comfort and just what I needed to get well.
Maybe I didn’t need to do all the “school mom” things. I’d experienced so much classroom and school time as a teacher, maybe it was good for other Mamas to get those experiences…. I have no doubt in my mind God put us in the place and time at that community for a reason. It helped our transition to this new town go more smoothly, gave me some time to get well and work, and helped my kid make some great new friends.
My son’s teachers have done an amazing job taking photos of him in class. I think they’ve given us more photos than we’ve had printed since he was a baby 🙂 I’ll cherish those photos. Sometimes I so long to be back in a Montessori preschool room and it always fills me with joy when I get to go in his class. Now when I’m missing it I can flip through the pictures and see my smiling boy doing our favorite “works.” Not many parents can know what it’s like from the teacher side and I’ve cherished that more than I could have guessed.
As I close out on this last school night it feels extremely bitter sweet. For the last two years, we’ve wondered if we’d stick at the school or go back to “the plan.” Staying at school would have been a comfort zone move for us. Those of you who know us know that we’re not comfort zone sort of people. Tomorrow we’ll close out one last school day, one last time to hand letter in my warm car at carpool, one last time to empty out the Friday folder and one last hurried lunch to get to drop-off on time. I’ll turn the page to being a homeschool Mama tomorrow and write our next chapter.