It's January, our schedules suck and the crisis of faith returns - Mothering Forums
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#1 of 14 Old 01-22-2010, 02:50 PM - Thread Starter
 
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It's January. It's cold. We're spending a lot of time indoors. I understand this is normal.

But our schedules also suck right now. My husband is finishing his PhD (needs to rewrite his intro for his diss and defend by the end of February) and working 4 jobs (not real jobs, but academic jobs that take a lot of time every day to prepare for).

Meanwhile, I'm doing a play. Tech week starts Monday. That's rehearsal every evening. And I have a cold and I'm tired. Plus my commitments for the board I serve on are ramping up a lot. It's a transformational time for the organization and it requires a lot of commitment and work and thought.

My sister is also living with us (in a 900 sq. ft. apartment) and it is just now starting to stress me out due to an inability for us to communicate effectively with one another. I try to be adult about it, but she gets mad every time I say anything. She's very stubborn.

So there's the stress.

My children like to watch videos and play video games. And it's winter so that seems to be all they're doing. I look back and I realize that I've not cooked with them ever since they were toddlers and thus, they stay on the computer or out of the way during meal prep times. I look at lots of things I do like this. I think I got so used to them being "in the way" when they were little little that I haven't included them and now I feel like I've totally trained them to keep playing video games and watching movies. I feel like I haven't actually helped them all these years to be doing what I really value. I feel like I screwed up. It was all so exhausting when they were toddlers. I don't know. I feel really lazy. I feel like I didn't do enough. I feel like I could never do enough. I'm afraid. I'm afraid that I'm lazy as hell and I've made children that will be lazy as hell too.

My oldest can read and write and draw and do math and all the things that 7 year olds should be able to do according to arbitrary guidelines. But the self-motivating things are so limited. Suddenly nothing feels like enough. And I feel very very tired and unmotivated myself. And I know that this is normal. Except that I don't feel very normal.

I have this grand philosophy somewhere here - though not entirely articulated - about anarchism and honoring the unique individuals my children are and it stems of collectivism and community and ideas about human nature and the evolution of society and what children and people really need. This philosophy is not serving me at the moment. I can't untie this. I can't figure out if it's right. I grew up in ghettos. I was a privileged gentrifier, but we were poor and I saw a life up close that my children will never see. And sometimes I wonder if I'm protecting them from that in some way. If I'm not insulating them too much, if they aren't too incredibly privileged. We live a very middle class lifestyle and this whole unschooling thing is just reeking, at times, of being insulated from the world and its real struggle. I'm just afraid I'm creating little white-bred snooty folks who get what they want, thinking little of the consequence and have the audacity to think they're going to tell the world what's best for it. Is that what I've become?

Maybe my thoughts aren't linear here. Forgive me. I'm worried. I feel like we're just too insular a community sometimes. Even if we do get out in the world. And other times I see the emphasis other families (even white-bred ones out to save the world in their Priuses) put on things and I get confused. Why shouldn't we be focused on academics? What are we supposed to be doing? How am I going to give my children the tools they need? Maybe I'm too selfish. I've taken too much time to myself. Now all they have is modeled behavior instead of tons of experiences and activities.

I guess I'm just worried that modeling, right now, in this winter where I worry, is not enough. I can't take them to play rehearsals because the material is very adult and they can't stay quiet or play nicely anyway. So they don't see it, they just know that's what I'm doing. Point being, I've not included them enough with the activities - they've just always seen their father and I doing things on our own. Same with the cooking.

Oh dear, I've babbled and been incoherent. We're not doing enough and we're doing too much is the message. Sometimes I get too angry and though I apologize, I don't feel like I've been good enough a mother and I don't feel like I've given them what they need. Maybe I'm exaggerating. All the same, I feel run ragged...

And I will hear that I should drop something. The play ends in little more than a week and things will change again. If I need to step back on my volunteer work, then I can. I always struggle with overwhelm. ugh.

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#2 of 14 Old 01-22-2010, 03:59 PM
 
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I have no advice for you as I could relate to so much of what you wrote, but I couldn't read and not post. I am just coming out of the toddler phase after 6 years of having toddlers and I defiantly feel like I have "trained them" to stay out of the way on a lot of activities that I now need to find a way to rescript to include them.

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#3 of 14 Old 01-22-2010, 05:18 PM
 
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yeah, totally understand! today we r heading up to the mountains to enjoy the recent snow fall b/c it's been "one of those weeks"...(pardon the typing...nak) we just need to switch things up, even if it makes things harder, at least it would shift some of this stress!

We were in a similar sitch a few months back: hubby working night and day on a deadline, my brother and also my SIL living with us and our three children in our 1300 sq ft abode...(both of our house guests are young and immature, which grew VERY annoying), and, oh, yeah, I was very pregnant (and feeling very lonely, odd enough, without anyone to "understand" how I was feeling). Kids playing VG and watching unlimited TV, bouts of quarreling, trying to keep sanity and just weather the storm! Life can be a pain sometimes!


It passes, so do what you can to relax/cope in the meantime. I know this is cliche, but finding things to be thankful for helps whenever I am waiting for the things that bug me to settle down. It isn't easy to do it, and I know it may sound like a very passive thing to do, but, hey, when you can't change the present, changing one's mind about how they see it relieves some pressure. Or you could follow Oscar Wilde's advice: If you don't get everything you want, think of the things you don't get that you don't want.


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#4 of 14 Old 01-22-2010, 07:12 PM
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I would wait until March and worry then, if you still need to. I think when it's winter and you're both frantically busy and you have the added stress of a houseguest, it's easy to see your concerns and not your successes. In March things will be less busy and the weather will be nicer, and if you really need to make big changes (or small ones) you can. In the meantime, your kids are healthy and happy and 6 more weeks of the status quo will be fine for them.

 
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#5 of 14 Old 01-22-2010, 09:02 PM
 
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I go through these crises myself from time to time. It is SO normal! And it's usually around this time of year when we've had a long spell of rotten weather and spent too much time holed up in the house.

My advice is to give yourself permission to do what you need to do and let the kids play video games all day. When the weather gets nicer (as it did here this week) you'll feel better and the kids will get outside and remember what fun it is...


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#6 of 14 Old 01-22-2010, 10:40 PM
 
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Originally Posted by Dar View Post
I would wait until March and worry then, if you still need to. I think when it's winter and you're both frantically busy and you have the added stress of a houseguest, it's easy to see your concerns and not your successes. In March things will be less busy and the weather will be nicer, and if you really need to make big changes (or small ones) you can. In the meantime, your kids are healthy and happy and 6 more weeks of the status quo will be fine for them.
This is what I'm telling myself right now as well. We are going pretty much through the same thing here. Winter...bleh...crazy busy...winter...bleh...

winter...

March sounds good! March sounds great! we can make it!

My kids are 8, 5 and 2!
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#7 of 14 Old 01-22-2010, 10:51 PM
 
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Winter is evil. Hang in there. Everything changes with that first warm ray of sun; that first purple crocus sticking up through the snow. And the ability to cope suddenly walks back into the room and acts like he hasn't been gone for months.

When I feel like this I always say "don't make any big decisions or draw big conclusions when you feel like this" -- my deep-winter perceptions are not accurate; it's like trying to look at life through a windshield streaked with snow and disgusting road salt. Nothing looks right. But it will.
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#8 of 14 Old 01-24-2010, 10:04 PM
 
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Agreeing with pp's that winter is le suck.
I'm right there with ya though. Nothing like the doldrums to make us very insecure about what we are doing, and where we are going. I've been seeing way too much internet surfing (not even the educational kind), texting, sleeping all day, lack of motivation stuff lately myself to be comfortable (arbitrary standards)
I do try to remember that this is what winter is FOR. -hibernation & rest
I feel REALLY guilty that my dd isn't interested in cooking with me or helping me with the livestock or whatever I find that I HAVE to do, even during the winter. Well, seeing her out there today, a sunny, relatively warm day riding her bicycle of her own choice and not playing computer games I realized that maybe she just doesn't WANT to cook with me or feed the goat.
I have to remember this is her winter too.
I still get really stir crazy though and feel like we should be "doing something". For me it's feeling very lazy and like a total failure in being any kind of model for inspiration. Winter is something to be endured or run from, so I will be no inspiration as long as the sun doesn't shine.
As far as your life growing up and your kids lives now: I don't really think there is anything wrong with "sheltering" your kids from some of the harsher realities you may have experienced growing up. I mean, in the context that it is not THEIR lives. I do find GREAT value in exposing kids to what life is like for as many people as possible though.
I thought your post was really right on how I feel during January/February, and when you see OUR FAMILIES answer to the winter doldrums, hopefully you will laugh?
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In just 2 weeks, I'm getting in the PRIUS, driving to New Orleans, and going to spend some plain 'ole together time in the warm sunshine with my 3 daughters, helping with community gardens in the lower ninth ward.



I can't wait to hear it now though, day and night for the entire 25 day trip: "can i check facebook? can i play gaia online? This is BORING, I want to go HOME" Ipod, DVD, Nintendo DS
I'll be honest; I'm scared to death my kids are going to have a MISERABLE time helping in New Orleans, and I will have shot myself in the foot with this whole trip. I mean, gardening is my thing, not really theirs.
Will I wish I had left them at home playing video games?
So much for my white bred, prius driving, save the world intentions.

Different drummer dancing with 3 kids in 3 decades.
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#9 of 14 Old 01-26-2010, 06:06 PM
 
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I have to weigh in with it being that time of year.

Something else that occurs to me is that the reality of life- in every home, in every place on earth, schooled or not- is that there are hard times. There are crises of life and crises of person. Nobody escapes this, truly.

Your dc are now with you, seeing every day and all day what this hard time is and how it began, what the interim is like and eventually, how it will resolve. They will benefit from that. As adults, when they are in the position of taking full responsibility when all around is chaos, they will have the comfort and reality behind them of knowing that they will come out at the other end. They will have built coping strategies and planning skills, and maybe even foresight to prepare when something is on the proverbial horizon.

They are definitely learning. This is not a waste of their life or time, even if it is hard right now.

This is how I cope with the chaos of our life; I try to remember that it isn't always like this, and that when it is, my dc learn how to navigate through real life situations.

I struggle because our dc are all so young and there is an inherent chaos to just that, even without the reality of the chaos of my life at large.

Warmer weather really does bring so mch relief. We're holed up too for long periods of time. There is more light now though, and it won't be long before we can start some plants indoors and begin helping our friends on the farm we live on to prepare for growing season. There is a lot to look forward to. It's amazing how easily I can lose sight of that and fret. I'm glad to know I'm not alone, but hope that I can figure out ways of maintaining sanity more effectively as we build our life together more each year.

Well, I've been absent for 8 months, and during that time, it turns out that I have completely transformed. You are all precious. Thank you for being here and sharing your lives. You are truly a gift. namaste.gif Jan. 23, 2012

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#10 of 14 Old 01-27-2010, 10:36 AM
 
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I always find Dec-Feb really hard to be motivated with them, so we take a lot of time off and do our own things. I tend to do a lot with them in the warmer months. Chill. You are aware of everything you want to do with the boys, so it will come.

Lisa: Homeschooling Mum of ds, 8 and dd, 6
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#11 of 14 Old 01-27-2010, 01:43 PM
 
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anakiss

You raise an interesting question about privilidge etc....which we also struggle with. I have a few things to add but haven't read all the replies so sorry if I'm repeating something.

My oldest DS is 6 1/2 and we have been volunteering at a food bank for the past year or so fo rjust that reason. I wish it weren't so charity model, but honestly there just isn't the sort of work in the more radical movement that a small child can participate in meaningfully. When my other kids are a little older I'm hoping to find something more hands on for all of them to do,but for now sorting food hampers in a large organization where many volunteers also use the food bank is the way I am trying to keep our privilidge in view. And modeling my own activism in community organizatins.

We also struggle, especially living with three grandparents who give in to a lot and my kids have a lot of stuff, both toys and activities and memberships.

Also this comes up a lot because ds teaches high school and tries really hard to offer his students more respect, autonomy etc. but they already exist in such a combatitive environment that they often just view it as an opportunity to take advantage. We try to offer our kids a lot of autonomy and freedom but in the context of also having real responsibility, so they know it's a give and a take. I often think the kids in DS school have everythign except the one thing they really want which is some respect/responsibility. So they act perpetually like children even though they are on the cusp of adulthood. To me there is a real diffeerence between respecting kids and treating them well, and letting them run roughshod overyou/the households needs. KWIM?

Speaking of kids, i gotta run, hope that offered someting, no time to proofread
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#12 of 14 Old 01-28-2010, 02:59 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Yeah. It's always good to be reminded again of what I already know. Thanks all.

Anarchamama - I do those things already. My kids are young yet, but we're involved. At least there's a volunteer ethic being instilled. I volunteer in the local foods movement and they help. I dunno. We've also done some anti-war, peace, and other community actions. We'll continue building on all of it. Sometimes it just feels too safe. I guess there's not much other choice.

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#13 of 14 Old 01-28-2010, 04:49 AM
 
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Yeah. It's always good to be reminded again of what I already know. Thanks all.

Anarchamama - I do those things already. My kids are young yet, but we're involved. At least there's a volunteer ethic being instilled. I volunteer in the local foods movement and they help. I dunno. We've also done some anti-war, peace, and other community actions. We'll continue building on all of it. Sometimes it just feels too safe. I guess there's not much other choice.
There's a thread in activism about integrating motherhood and activism/volunteering. It's new but it might be interesting to you.
Karen

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Holding on to anger is like grasping a hot coal with the intent of throwing it at someone else; you are the one who gets burned. ~ Buddha

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#14 of 14 Old 02-09-2010, 12:29 PM
 
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oh yeah and thank you!!
I have been feeling so blue lately. I pulled my daughter out of school (again and I think for good this time) before x-mas and my husband is virtually out of work until the season starts, or at least the damn snow melts.
LOTS of TV and internet and computer games, I freak out. We are inside a very small cabin, no place to go, all the restaurants and stores in town are closed, serious cabin fever going on.
And who knew 13 year olds are as big as full grown adults?? And that 5 year old boys are sorta like tasmanian devils?
But I am perhaps the most intolerable with my pacing about and going in and out 75 times a day.
So yes, winter seems to break me down, tear me up and make me cry.
But knowing, just knowing that others are having a hard time of it, and hearing that it will change, spring will come, makes me feel so much better.
So thank you.
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