I am just going to put it out there; I never had a calling to homeschool my children.
Nope, I never envisioned it, and it wasn’t on my dream board. A portion of my life, I was homeschooled and it was boring and unstimulating. When I became a mother, I loved having my littles home with me and savored every second, I also leapt for joy and was first to line up in the carline to drop them off and send them on their way to school.
I regularly volunteer at both of their schools; I wear their school shirts on dress down days. I am that parent with an abundance of school spirit. I am that parent that probably annoys the heck out of you. The last thing on my bucket list was to homeschool our kids.
I swore I would never, ever be a homeschool mom.
The last semester about did me end. I kept saying, “I cannot wait for school next year, this will soon be over,” little did I know.
I have changed dramatically over the past four months. I think we all have. This new parent that I have become is someone that I do not recognize. I see myself and have to take a deep breath and remember this is a new normal.
I have changed.
I am different from the mother who chaired a school fundraiser in February when her biggest concern was going over budget. I have a new label that did not affect me six months ago:
I am a mother of an immunocompromised child in the time of COVID.
As a nurse, I enjoy researching, so I research, I compare notes from the CDC, WHO, Harvard, and our local physicians. I scour the news and listen to NPR like a hungry journalist, citing my sources and flagging new ideas. The one comfort I have is I have worked alongside these physicians, and I know these physicians in our local community that are speaking out. I have known them long enough to note their mannerisms, watch their faces, and listen to the tone of their voice. I have had years of practice and my ear can note the slightest inflection in their voices. I know them, I trust them and they are concerned, very concerned. I see it on their faces. I see it in the ebb and flow of their weighted words. I have learned that in the medical field, it is not about what is being said, it is what is NOT being said that is concerning.
As a family, we have chosen not to send our children to school this year, which means I am teaching the kids from home this year.
The majority of my friends and family are sending their children back to school on August 10th; many have asked me what I will be doing. When I share our plans, everyone asks me if I am concerned about the lack of socialization my children will have and how children need social interaction. Am I aware of what this will do to them? I hold my breath, so I do not spew the words that I want to say. Instead, I say bless your heart for being so concerned for my little ones. In my head, I say,” Hold on little girl because I am about to light you up with a litany of words beyond your vocabulary,” but I don’t.
I remind them I am very familiar with my family dynamics; I have one child with ASD, a child with ADHD, and an immunocompromised infant. If anyone’s children should be in school, it is 100 percent, my kids. My girlfriends try to share the risk factors with me, the data they have found, and how COVID does not affect children the same, and have I seen the low transmission rates?
You Need Not Worry.
Am I not concerned about how I will meet their social and emotional needs? Yes, I am concerned, and I do not know yet how to meet their social and emotional needs, but you better bet your bottom dollar that I will figure it out. I am a mother of special needs children; I improvise better than most. I have fought for them since the day of their diagnosis. I am a fierce mama bear, and if you know me, you need not worry.
I know others with similar family dynamics and let me be the first to say (insert hand clap), “Good for you, Mama!” The best mother that you can be is doing what is best for YOUR child. I know that looks different for everyone. But, I swear if one more “good intention” person points out the flaws of my plan for the school year, I will lose it right on them.
Maybe, you do not realize this, but you are being a bully.
Yes, I said it. You are bullying other families and my family that are choosing a different option. I hear it in everyday conversations, in unanswered texts, and the silence of my posts. It is interesting and also alarming. Allies have become unfamiliar, and friends have become bullies, and dare I say, mom shamers.
Mom shaming is what is happening, not only about going back to school but also surrounding extracurricular activities, summer camps, and vacations.
I may not agree with some choices you are making for your family, and I don’t shame you for making them.
I see posts of families out and about, and the comments are always the same. “Good for you,” or “so nice to see some ‘normalcy.'” Yes, I am happy that your family can go to the beach, birthday parties, and baseball. You see, my family cannot, even in be “normal” times during “normal times. As a family, we could not always be out and about because we have three children with special needs. My normal is not close to yours, but I don’t compare it. I don’t mom shame you for being able to do all of the things that my family cannot do.
I applaud you; I cheer for you. I would like to see the same for moms having to choose a lifestyle, a new career not of their choosing, but rather because the world has changed and yet her children’s needs have not.
I have learned more about my friends and acquaintances in the last few months more than I can tell you. I have seen and heard shocking things. I also have witnessed more compassion from my neighbors than some of my closest friends. I support my friends and family that choose to send their children back to school in August. I will support you and be happy for your child, your choice.
To Other Moms Making the Decision to Homeschool
I hope that other new homeschool moms will feel supported and not alone. If you are starting to home school and want to reach out, please do, I will cheer for you, share with you and be a listening ear. But, this mom-shaming has got to stop. We are all on the same team; we want the very best for our children. Let me repeat that we are all on the same team. We need to start acting like it because this is only four months into a pandemic, and it got REAL, really fast.
I choose to homeschool my kids because I believe it is the safest option for every member of my family. I am doing it because my gut has led me to this decision. I hope this ends soon; I hope everyone stays safe and makes the right choices for their family. I hope this all passes soon and we can get back to what was normal if we can find that again.
Oh, and if you happen to see our family out in the community…
I hope you say hello, and I pray you don’t comment, “It’s nice to see you out and about doing something so normal.” Because honestly my friends, my family will never, ever be normal and I am absolutely fine with that.