What I do with My Spare Time

by Mrs. Smith on October 29, 2017

This post WILL get published. It will. Unlike the many that have fallen to the “save draft” fate before it, this one will go where few posts have gone this year — and the magic blue button will be clicked upon. Oh yes. Even if it doesn’t get pictures.

Because I have two things to tell you.

Thing One

We’re homeschooling the younger 5 Smithlings this year.

The eldest has elected to attend (in her words) “anything but homeschool again,” and things are going pretty well in that department. She likes me to not talk about her in media-land, so as much as I’d like to tell you about the adventures in Science Fair + History Day, this all you’re going to hear from me about it unless you ask her first.

So back to the other 5 kids. I don’t want to brag or nothing, but I did it!

Last year it took me clear ’til Christmas to get there, but it’s not even November yet and I’ve hit that saturation point where I stop thinking,
“That’s it! They are ALL GOING TO PUBLIC SCHOOL… Monday. This is the last week.I’m going Friday to sign them all up. This is ridiculous. I don’t know what I’m doing. It’s not working. I can’t do this school thing as well as they can. Are you sure they’re better off here? Their portfolio would be so much better at the end of the year over there. Mmm, how peaceful and quiet it would be if it was just the 4yo at home… Better for her, too, I’m sure, to get all this undivided attention… Really, I owe it to them to get rid of them for 6+ hours every day.”

Endless rationalizations, oh yes. That’s what happens when you live in a small, tightly-connected town and the elementary school is right down the street and you know all your neighbors about as well as you knew your close roommates in college, and your kids are all growing up together more like siblings than friends. Public school really isn’t as scary as it would be elsewhere.

But we’ve crested that hill. There’s no going back.

The magic has taken hold again and I’m not being bought out by promises of beautifully quiet time to make my house look like we don’t live here. Nope.

I’m too much in love with how all 4 boys are playing imaginary games together for hours upon hours every day after they suffer through chores, a little Saxon math, handwriting, and language arts. Sorry, world. I want them here to pester me about watching more SciShowKids, and I definitely want them to be here while the 6-year-old is opening the incredible gift of written language, while the 8-year-old is still so thrilled about learning anything that he can’t even stand it, while the 9-year-old likes to show me he can do more than I think he will, and while almost-12-year-old still has to tell me every little exciting thing he learns.

Don’t tempt me with how wonderful this community is and how much more you get of it when your kids are in public school.

Oh, I know full well how the community is wonderful, and it IS a little bit heart-breaking to be a little distanced from the culture that revolves so tightly around the schools. I love living where family is so central to the culture and where they really try to do a great job taking care of the children. It’s incredible.

I am going to be happy with what we get of it from where we are, and when I’m really on my A-game (which may or may not happen this century), I’ll get more involved out there in the community even with kids homeschooling. Really. I will.

Also, don’t tempt me with how much “more” my kids might learn and achieve in the competitive environment of the classroom.

I know that competitive streak they all have and I know their potential. They’d be amazing… But guess what. They ARE amazing, even without a class to be on top of. Even without as many hoops to be forced through. And I’m guessing that their brilliant minds aren’t going to suffer one bit for the lack of competition here… but their imaginations will take a mighty blow over in that uber-structured environment. You can keep your hoops and I’ll keep fanning their imaginations and we’ll just see what happens long term.

Those were 8 long weeks of hanging on when I really doubted myself and really longed to be free of my own unrealistic expectations. The homeschool magic is hard-earned, man. It really really is.

But hey! I just noticed! This year I didn’t do the, “There’s a reason not many other moms do this! There’s a reason they all say, “I don’t know how you do it — I’d go crazy! — And I AM THAT REASON! ARGHHHH!” whining. So hey. Progress!
Maybe next year I’ll drop the, “They’d be better off…” inferiority complex. Sounds good.

Anyway, as I was saying,
I will not be bought out, I will not be tempted, and since I never know if we’ll be homeschooling again next year (because those are some pretty hefty bribes you have there on the public school side), I’ma enjoy it while it’s here, okay? Okay.

Glad we got that cleared up.

Thing Two

What I do in my spare time. 

I have a confession to make. This is so silly. But I am going to come clean here. I am.

My favorite thing to do in my spare time… Is…

FindpeopleaskingquestionsonFacebookgroupsforwhichIthinkIhaveanswers.

Ooh, that was painful to admit here. Don’t ask me to say that again. It didn’t make sense though? Oh, fine. Here.
I’ll just show you. This one I just found tonight was the best.

Jill asked…

Oy vey. Cleaning. It’s not my strong suit. I’ve never been a tidy person, and I’ve never been self motivated to clean house (scrub floors, wash windows, etc). Since I started purging, it has gotten better, but I’m still struggling. I want our home to be a safe haven, and I know it’s stressing my husband out that I’m not keeping everything clean. He’s glad things are less cluttered, but tidy does not equal clean, amiright?! How do I succeed? I feel like a failure. He suggested, while in a stress-cleaning frenzy, that we hire a maid to come monthly. I k ow he suggested it so that he would stop obsessing over it, and to alleviate pressure on me to do it. I appreciate his thoughtful suggestion. But I just feel awful.

I don’t want to clean at night bc that’s our together time, and it’s a very high priority. And I spend the kids nap/quiet times either doing fun personal projects, exercising, or otherwise getting “me” time. I’m an introvert, I struggle with anxiety and depression and S.A.D., and I can get really overstimulated and touched out, so this quiet down time mid-day is really important to me. I can’t figure out where or what I need to sacrifice and compromise. Or if I’m being selfish with my schedule. I can’t do anything loud in the morning bc it will wake everyone up, so I can only do quiet tasks (sweeping, dusting, laundry folding).

If I need to just wave the white flag and hire a monthly service, ok. But how do I get rid of the guilt?

See what I mean?

Image result for supergirl

 

It’s like my inner Supergirl/DearAbby just canNOT be held back and I must reply…

Hire a service! What if instead of seeing it as “You fail at housekeeping so we have to hire it out” — you saw it as “Please accept this gift because your time, energy, and incredible contribution to this family are SO much more valuable than the cost of this service!” 
Right? That would feel so much better.
What if it isn’t a white flag of surrender but a fantastic strategic move?
Write out your expectations of yourself when it comes to housekeeping and just BURN the da*n thing. I wish to goodness that 10 years ago
(a) I had recognized my own struggles with anxiety & depression,
(b) I went along with my hubby’s idea of hiring out some housekeeping. I couldn’t do it and didn’t let him. Now I can’t imagine why! I would have loved it. The house would have been cleaner and I would have felt so much freer. I guess I thought the not-good-enough-guilt would kill me or something. ? (It was basically irrational anxiety, plain and simple.) 

What if you love it? What if it’s like the BEST thing you’ve ever done? Try it and see, right? If you can’t get over the guilt, then you don’t have to do it again the next month. 

Sorry this went long. Sometimes I just have to reach back through time and smack myself around a little. This is the pep-talk I wish I could have given myself.    Hugs, mama, you’re doing awesome!!!! And if you don’t go with the housekeeper plan, maybe you could find a friend to do housecleaning-parties with. Where you go help her and she comes help you. It would probably be fun, and you’d both get a lot done.  Good luck!

Image result for dear abby

So there you have it, friends. THAT is where my writing has been getting flushed. Yes: Down the toilet of social media, to people I don’t even know. THAT is where I’m sharing my empathy, my vast knowledge, and the experience that I have to impart.

Isn’t it silly? Isn’t it just about the dumbest thing you ever heard? I mean, it’s not quite a total waste, but really. I could be writing here. I could be writing a book. I could be writing my grandma (who, by the way, is, um, kind of dying at the age of 94… which is… really just weird, because she was supposed to live forever. My oldest child said so when she was 6, so it must be true, right?). I could be writing missionaries or thank you cards or people I actually know… So many things!

I did at least listen when the Spirit said to stop playing doctor on the health-related stuff questions. Those are — er, WERE — fun to jump in on (never with really serious questions, of course)… but yeah. Again with the wasting time.

Thankfully, I didn’t get the same memo when it comes to these other questions. It really is my favorite way to spend spare time.

But it just seemed sad. This blog sitting here all one. Hundreds of words, getting lost in the infinite depths of comments and threads that I’ll never revisit and likely couldn’t find even if I wanted to, being shared with people who, though I’m sure they’re fantastically marvelous individuals in their own right, don’t actually know me.

Seems a little wonky when I could be putting those same words into some place less transient.

So anyway.

That’s where I am right now, with a few other loose ends worth mentioning:

Life is great. It’s nice to feel like myself again. Except, it’s definitely an upgrade self.
Long story.

Mr Smith is amazing.
Even if he did chortle compassionately at my freaking out when I got the “Oh Snap, this page crashed” thing just now and thought I lost this post. And even if he does ask, “Is this where I tell the joke about how Jesus saves?”
<This is where you imagine the “not-funny” glare that I gave him. After I laughed.>

The new (smaller, kind of falling apart) house we moved in to earlier this month is the best move EVER and I love love love love it so much. We are going to absolutely love the stuffing out of this place until it’s time for it to get knocked down and rebuilt.

Hey, that’s kind of how I feel about life, actually.

Yes, this crazy world is kind of falling apart and it’s got a lot of heavy, dark, awful stuff going on… but I love love love love love it so much, and I’m going to love the stuffing out of it until it’s time to burn the whole place down and start over.

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