Unlearning and Learning~

"A new medium always has a period when it is struggling inside the confining box of an earlier medium. Creators have to unlearn what they knew before they can see the fresh, uncharted vistas stretching before them." (Dave Morris)

(Note: I started this post last week. After Liam's visit of the Waldorf school, he shared that he really liked the kids but he just felt he can't go to school. It's just too much for him.)

I'm sitting outside on the porch just outside the classroom that Liam is visiting at the Tucson Waldorf school. We are checking it out to see if this is a possibility and to just a get some clarity on things.  I guess you could say that this is as much a learning experience for me as it is for him.  Since the anxiety is still very much present and this is a new situation, I am here all day with him as he is not ready to stay on his own. My parents have Lila today so that I can be here with Liam.

I like the different approach of the Waldorf school and the campus and it feels pretty smooth and peaceful.  That said, it is busy and they move from one thing to the next just like public school, however, they do build in more moments to move throughout the day. This is good, and I do feel that they trying to balance the day out. 

Yesterday, the first day of his 3-day visit, went okay.  He came out crying and shared that he's just not good at school. This upset came just after they began writing a paragraph about Geronimo.  Liam does not like to write as he says it hurts his hand and he feels he's very slow writer. What I learned was that Liam does not like to feel like he is behind as it makes him feel bad about himself.  He came out later after a timed math test feeling discouraged again. When I looked at his paper,  I realized that he knew the answers to those questions, but being under the pressure of time, he gave up and got discouraged. These things stress Liam out, and I feel for him.  We did get through the day, and he decided that he would give the visit the full 3 days. I have told Liam that if he finds that school is just not for him, it's okay. 

Part of why we are checking things out is so that we are clear on the path ahead.  Will the kids go to school or will we continue to homeschool or unschool? I don't know yet. 

In a lot of ways, I realize that I have not fully embraced homeschooling or unschooling as a way of life.  I have mostly thought of homeschooling as a temporary thing while we help get Liam in a better place mentally, spiritually and emotionally. But to be very honest, I feel conflicted on the whole homeschool thing. I can see and have experienced some of the very positive benefits to homeschool, and I can also see the positive benefits of school. I feel that homeschooling is really kind of isolating sometimes, and I know Liam is lonely.  That part really sucks! And yet, he cannot handle days away from home right now.  It's a tough place to be for us all. 

 I think the other things that I am grappling with are a fear of not having the time I need to do the things that I need and want for my own well being, and I have a great fear of not being able to teach my kids enough of what I think they may need to know. So the whole old school way is very much ingrained in me and hard to let go of. Also, I have found that I really don't want to, nor do I feel like I am good at doing school at home. I don't know that structuring our days like a regular school day works for us, so I have been looking  into unschooling and radical unschooling and what that approach is all about. As you can tell, I am still working things out. Nothing has felt like a natural fit or been easy except for not having to be at school at a certain time. That part I like.  

I kind of feel that I am in this place of upside down and inside out on so many levels right now, where many of my long held beliefs or the things I thought were true are being turned on their head.  I'm just now learning about the partnership paradigm of parenting versus the authoritarian paradigm of parenting that so many of us grew up with. And I'm just now realizing all the ways in which I still need to wake up with regard to how I parent, what I need, how we live, and what I value as important in this life. I think this may explain why I often feel overwhelmed, unclear and conflicted about how to do things and that may be a big reason why parenting has not been easy for me. It's like I have this old way of doing things based on what I grew up with and what I've known or been taught, and this new way of doing things emerging. And the line between the two feels uneven and jagged. I haven't quite figured out how to unite those differing views, those uneven edges yet.

There is this side of me that has been so well trained to do what I think I am supposed to do, less I get in trouble! And there is this other side of me that wants to go a more free and gentle way.  And I often feel confused because I grew up with the whole do-what-I-say-now model of parenting. And if my kids are not doing as I say or we are not doing as we are "supposed" to, than I am a terrible parent and we are getting it all wrong. I feel like so much of parenting, and the way so many of us grew up, has been about force and compliance instead of about guidance and connection. 

I think the other major thing coming up for me is the realization that I have been parenting from a depleted place for a really long time. So when faced with challenge after challenge over the years, my creative energy and patience has just been decimated. And this is where I am at.  I am in a place of needing to heal and replenish myself, to bring myself back to life. All I can say is that parenting has been far more demanding and challenging than I ever imagined it would be. I know that I am not alone in feeling this way because I have had other mothers and fathers share that same sentiment with me over the years. 

I know all this confusion I am experiencing is just me working it out for myself and learning what's true for me and for my family, and it's not been an easy shift at all.  It almost feels like a crumbling and a rebuilding of sorts.  I kind of feel like that's what the last 5 years has been about. 

And here I am still building the foundation, but I am really ready to start building the house! It's been a painfully slow process. We are still finding our way and sorting through the rubble in order to decide what is worth keeping and what needs to go. It really is time to clear out the clutter on so many levels so that we can simplify our life and enjoy it more.

And as far as coming to terms with homeschooling, I think it comes down to finding a way to balance things out so that all, or at least most, of our needs are being met. I think Jason and I have to give ourselves time to figure out what homeschool approach really works for our family.  And included in this rebuilding of our lives, is the understanding that both Jason and I have to put our own health and happiness higher up on the list of things to do. We cannot live and love from an empty place.

So what next? Now,  I must come to terms with the fact that my life and my family's life are not meant to follow the norm: go to work, go to school, send the kids go off to college, work until retired, and then have fun.  When I write it out like that, life like that doesn't sound appealing at all. Maybe what's showing up in our life is what we need and really what we want, we just haven't figured that out yet. Maybe we just need to loosen our grip on what we thought our lives should and would be like, and learn to lean into what life is right now.



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