Tag Archives: giving up career to homeschool

Why Can’t I Do Both?

Lazy and lame. Someone scathingly wrote to me that I was lazy and lame because I quit working as a medical doctor and instead chose to stay home with my four kids and homeschool. The words stung a little, but it’s nothing my own mind hasn’t wrestled with over the last seven years since staying home. I mean, there ARE moms who actually do BOTH homeschooling and doctoring! I know it IS possible. I’m a pretty capable woman, so I have often wondered why I “couldn’t” do both! In my life, I have confidence that I can handle most challenges thrown at me. In fact, a sure-fire way to guarantee I do something is to tell me I can’t!

Why, then, could I not “handle” work and homeschooling simultaneously? I mean, deep inside, I romanticize about being the mom who runs kids, always has extra kids around, has fresh meals on the table, volunteers in the community, is always there for her friends, desires her husband each night, pays the bills, exercises, keeps a neat house, attends social functions, reads good books, and is loved at the workplace. Other women say they do it successfully and happily!

No Satisfaction in Both

I know I’m not “other women,” but I curiously, deeply wondered what it is about me that prevented satisfaction when I did both. (Because I can sure tell you there was NO satisfaction or good humor when I did both, despite the fact that I LOVED doing EACH!) I just can’t be that, and I have to keep forging a life that keeps me true to my inner core. (I think that’s a unique thing in life. To step INTO yourself and say, “Yes, I feel really good. THIS fits me.” And to find a way to make that work for you, your family, and society.)

Back to my meanie accuser. I realized that this person and I may never see eye to eye because we simply do not have the same wiring, the same mother board, the same values. I am not here to tell moms to quit their jobs. I have a best friend who I told to get back in the work force—get back in there! Go for partnership. This woman needs to work or she’ll drive herself (and me) crazy. Work keeps her grounded and focused, even though she has four kids at home.

But not me. I pondered this now that time has passed and softened the emotions surrounding the transition from practicing medical doctor to being a stay-at-home mom. What is it about my wiring and my mother board that won’t allow me to peacefully work and homeschool?

Run Back to the Convent

My mom must have sensed something strange about me, because she used to tell me I should be a nun. “You’re running the wrong way, Maria,” I would have screamed as The Sound of Music‘s heroine danced and sang herself back to the Von Trapp home. “You’re running towards chaos! Go back to PEACE and ORDER! Go back to the convent, I say! When they tried to solve a problem like Maria, the nuns must have subtracted wrong. They got the wrong answer! You’re doomed! Return to the inner sanctity of order and quiet!”

No. Kidding. I didn’t really need to be a nun, but there definitely is something appealing about those quiet stone halls and methodical rituals! I love being a mom and teaching my four daughters. They’re bright. Loving. Talented. Kind. And I get to teach them every day! We can run into a lot of chaos homeschooling, but introspection has taught me that at the end of the day, I must have–or be moving towards– peace and order in each area of my life:

  • my kitchen
  • my stack of bills
  • my laundry room
  • my purse
  • my relationship with my husband
  • my relationships with my kids
  • my relationships with my friends
  • my relationship with God
  • my teaching
  • my health
  • my schedule
  • my text message and e-mail in-boxes

I’ve been called a perfectionist before, which I see now is somewhat of an error! I see how I and others could confuse them. For me, it’s not perfectionism, but it’s the pursuit of peace and order which makes me feel good inside. The house doesn’t need dusted as long as it’s picked up! I’ve been called controlling before, too. Again, maybe. But not really. “Honey, you didn’t put the garlic press back where it goes. It’s out of order…”

When I Was Working and Homeschooling

Anyhow, when I was working at the hospital as a medical doctor, I came home exhausted. I hadn’t lunched, supped, peed, or pooped. I carried two pagers (the code pager and the on-call pager) and the “house” phone. I was busy. I ran to codes, sick patients in the ICU, and had 5-7 patients waiting to be admitted to the hospital from the ER. It was fun. It was hard. But when I came home, my core value need could not be overridden. I needed order and peace.

Instead, I was greeted by sticky hands full of love. Couch cushions on the floor and blankets draping the chairs to create imaginative tents. And mail partly opened and tossed haphazardly on the counter for me to organize. Once, I even came home to find that tiny, nimble fingers had moved my great-grandmother’s fine china dinnerware all around from its protective nook.

School was expected to run on my days off, yet I hadn’t had time to organize my lessons. Get art supplies. Run through a craft or activity to see if it would work the way Pinterest said it would. My child didn’t do school the way I wanted. We (are supposed to) start at the left and we work to the right. We (are supposed to) fold our papers in the middle. And we don’t scribble-scrabble all over them!

PEACE. ORDER. Those are intrinsic needs for me and drive how I interact with life, my environment, and my people. No matter how many different things I tried, I couldn’t align my deep needs for peace and order with working and homeschooling simultaneously. Since family and education are other values that I cannot compromise, fully embracing motherhood and homeschooling and forfeiting professional goals (which don’t seem to drive me as much as peace and order, family, and education) felt much more comfortable and fulfilling. I do not regret my decision.

Conclusion

I hope you know that what you do is important. How you do it is important. How you feel when you do it is important. Strive to find out what makes you tick, and create a wonderful life which fulfills you and makes a difference where you want to make a difference at! If you’re struggling and you can change your mindset and that takes care of it, go for it! But if you try different routes, different techniques, and your mindset just won’t budge, maybe you should have been a nun. No. Kidding. Maybe you need to find out exactly what it is that’s not able to compromise deep within you and honor it.

How about you? Do you have greater needs for peace and order than other people? Does this need affect your work-home relationship? Do you fervently seek peace and order in all areas, including your own head? What happens when you have to be exposed to too much disorder and chaos? How does it make your body feel? How about your head?

May good blessings fall upon you today!

Terri F.

Image attribution: St. Lucas altarpiece, Andrea Mantegna, downloaded from Wikimedia Commons, https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Andrea_Mantegna_019.jpg

 

 

Why We Homeschool

Nature walk leaf identification.

Nature walk leaf identification.

We are two medical doctors who planned on homeschooling before we even had kids, as soon as hopes of living close to my family faded away.  Whaa, whaa.  We are entering our fifth year, and we absolutely love it still.  I laugh when people say, “Well, I suppose you can go back to work when you put them in high school!”

Personally, I’m just biding my time here in this trying elementary school period.  I can’t wait for the good stuff:  trig, calculus, physiology, and chemistry!

“Put them in school…”  I don’t think so!  We’ve got a clause in our will about continuing homeschooling!

The list below doesn’t even begin to capture all the reasons we enjoy homeschooling, but it’s a start.

1.  For ease of travel planning.  Homeschooling allows us to schedule our trips without a fear of truancy or teaching our kids it’s okay to skip out on obligations.

Homeschooling allows us to up and leave whenever we want to go visit family in another state.  No begging partners to get spring break or Christmas vacation off.

2.  For foreign language introduction at a young age.  We’ve all read that language development occurs most easily in children, how learning

We got to observe this baby robin cracking out of its egg.

We got to observe this baby robin cracking out of its egg.

one language facilitates the brain’s ability to learn other languages, and how children who learn a language as a child don’t struggle with an accent.

I want to give my children the gift of language; Spanish is a part of our curriculum.  The ability to share with more people, gather ideas from more people, learn from more people, help more people, and read another culture’s literature is invaluable.

3.  For accelerating learning in areas of academic strength.  Homeschooling allows a parent to closely observe strengths and move ahead when indicated.  I closely observe each one of my children, like I used to observe the vital signs in my ICU patients, using all the clues to tell me what’s going well and what’s working.  There’s no boredom from unneeded repetition of already mastered material.  We plow onward.

4.  For decelerating progression and working on areas of academic weaknesses.  For one child of mine, there was a few years of angst when it “just wasn’t clicking.”  Slow in phonics, reading, handwriting, and poor concentration in math.

The glory was–I could slow down and wait. Take different approaches.  Look up or ask for help.  We found a great place called “Core” in Sumter, SC where they helped her with pencil grip and hand strength for handwriting.  Rather than force phonics and silent reading, I read aloud to her.  Her verbal understanding was [is] phenomenal.  Math, we continue to work on concentration.  Homeschooling shines when you’re a parent who takes interest in tailoring learning to each child.

Mandatory instrument learning prior to graduation.

Mandatory instrument learning prior to graduation.

5.  For socialization among people of all ages. It doesn’t make sense that society funnels kids of one age into a classroom of 30 kids with one adult.  At recess children are around 100 other kids just as silly as they are, with very minimal supervision.  On the other hand, at our homeschool functions, we have eighth graders teaching drawing to elementary school kids and fifth graders helping second graders arrange “electrons” in their proper orbitals in our once monthly chemistry class.  In our home, my 9 year-old learns to amuse my 4-year-old so I can teach my middle daughter.  At the grocery store, the girls interact with the cashier.  At nursing home visits, the kids make crafts with eighty year olds.  On Tuesday nights, they get to dance their hearts out with kids their age at ballet class.  On Friday mornings, us moms try to hold periodic coffees so the kids can play together and “get socialized.”  My kids are learning respect for ALL ages, young and old, and, I hope, learning that each person has a gift to teach us.

6.  To allow time for extra kinds of learning.

  • Sewing lessons (from an acquaintance)
  • Spanish lessons (from a tutor)
  • Drawing lessons from You Tube
  • Piano lessons, specializing in playing by ear and chords and scales (from mom–that’s me)
  • Gardening
  • Cooking
  • Specific delves into areas of history that they find fascinating
  • Nature walks
  • Arts and crafts of their own choosing

7.  To provide an atmosphere in which personality strengths and weaknesses are observed and molded, in a loving and caring fashion, without belittling, mocking, or teasing.  Here in my home, I hope to give the kids the tools they need to not be undermined by the world and what other people think about them.  We socialize enough that my kids have been made fun of, talked about, had hurt feelings, gotten angry, and been irritating.  But I am there.  I see it.  I help them acknowledge their role in the drama.  Or the fairness or unfairness of the other people.  Together we work to help them understand a little better what’s happening and how they’re feeling.

A craft one of the girls made up.

A craft one of the girls made up.

8.  To allow a diverse curriculum:  Spanish, Latin, poetry, art, piano, sewing, cooking, math, science, classical reading, intensive phonics, grammar, and so forth.

9.  To avoid the rat race of pick-up, drop-off, remembering lunches, remembering party days, remembering to bring home or take back books and homework.  School has a lot of unnecessary “busy-ness” which makes it pretty stressful for parents (and kids).  I really feel this gets minimized in homeschooling.  Recently I had to deal with having just one kid in preschool.  The snacks, “dress-up” days, field trips, and parties were difficult to keep up with.  I couldn’t even imagine having all three in school.

10.  To provide instruction in day-to-day habits, such as making beds, making lunch, sorting and folding laundry, and watering the garden.  Sad to say, I don’t think I ever did a load of laundry before I left my mom’s house.  For the first year of college, I was washing my clothes in Downy only.  I thought it was detergent.  A crying shame.

Dr. Seuss party.

Dr. Seuss party.

11.  To share the quality time of day together before we’re all exhausted in the evening. 

12.  For one of the biggest challenges in my life.  “What do you mean?” you ask.  E-mail me.

Mission statement:  To raise daughters who are physically, mentally, psychologically, emotionally, and spiritually healthy.