Thursday, 14 July 2011

Sometimes I Just Get Pissy

Sometimes I just get pissy. Not necessarily for any good reason, but sometimes yes. Not even because I feel justified in being pissy, although I sometimes do. And certainly not because anyone deserves to feel the effects of my pissiness, however that sometimes happens. I may just feel like there's a sourness to something I expected to be sweet, or a hill where I expected a valley, or ... like biting into a cookie where you expect a chocolate chip and find a raisin instead. And it rankles!!! And it causes a mood.

I wish I could let it go more easily. And a lot of the time I can be fairly philosophical about things, at least outwardly. Usually I'd figure that if I sleep on it, it will go away, but sometimes that does't work. Or I figure that really I must be tired and a good cup of coffee will help do the trick, but then the caffeine contributes to my edginess and I end up with an accelerated stream of consciousness thing running through my head and that does no good either. Or maybe it's just the big H. Hormones. Post partum-ness may do that. For the most part I'm a pretty even-keeled, mild-tempered person. However I do have a phlegmatic side, (more on that another time) that occasionally needs to "dump". The other side of being phlegmatic means that I often avoid conflict, so my pissiness is sometimes a result of swallowing what I'd really like to say to advocate for myself. And then I feel guilty if I do confront someone! And of course the predominantly melancholic side of me over-analyzes all of this far too much!

But I am learning to leave it out of play in my relationships. I am learning to recognize that no one else is responsible for my happiness. And I don't really expect anyone to soothe me and stroke me and kid-glove me until I've gotten over my mood.

I've had some really excellent people in my life who've helped me figure myself out. Not that the process is done. I do a fair amount of self-examination, I think, and I'm amazed at the layers I uncover and how much more I have to learn about myself. A really smart lady once told me that a person's reaction to something says more about them than it says about the thing to which they were reacting. That gave me a whole new insight into others and myself. I'm also learning to forgive myself; both for feeling confrontational in the first place, and for needing to let it out sometimes. As a thirty-something year old woman I guess I'd figured from a younger age that by now I'd have a pretty good handle on who I was and how I'd keep growing, but it isn't turning out that way. This self discovery process is likely to take the rest of my life as I keep growing (hopefully) all the time. I've realized that I forget lots of stuff and rediscover it from different angles. Sometimes it's only when someone holds up a mirror that I realize what was behind past issues in my life. And I keep finding that I'm growing in new directions that I never expected to. Part of that comes from having seven kids!

Whenever I'm building up to one of these dumps, I usually have a nonstop running commentary in my head rehearsing what I'd say and how I'd say it if given the opportunity and I usually end up dumping on my poor unsuspecting TiPSI Dad husband who has learned to let me dump and just step out of the way knowing that its not directed at him. (He's a wonderful sounding board, by the way.)

My latest bout of pissiness was one that didn't really have a justifiable cause. I just got an idea in my head and expected that other people would fall into line and carry on as I wanted without any actual explicit vocalization of my expectations. Of course disappointment follows!! People can't read my mind! My biggest challenge then is to not sabotage myself by wallowing in what I wanted to have happen and having a pity-party. My job is to let it go and get on with doing what I wanted to do in the first place even if it doesn't happen the way I thought it would. And I'm beginning to do just that. And there's great satisfaction in doing that, I'm finding. It really is liberating to realize that I am able to lift my own spirits with a little concentrated effort and not rely on an external "dump" to get things out of my system. I can move on and let go, and work on my own happiness. I think I'm growing up!

Thursday, 7 July 2011

The Journey to Home Schooling

This coming year in our life is going to be very different from any before. We are about to jump, both feet, into home schooling come September, schooling four of our seven children. We've given it a trial run, so to speak, with our daughter who was in grade five this past year, but now we've notified the school that we are going to take them all next year and school them ourselves. I'd never really heard of the phenomenon before 6 years ago, and at the time it seemed like an attractive idea, but not something that I was equipped to handle. Sometimes I still wonder! But one thing I've learned in the last few years is to let go of my hesitations before they stop me from doing something that I may end up loving.

I know that many people come to homeschooling as a result of poor experiences with a school, whether it be because of management problems in the school system itself or having a child whose needs were just not being met adequately in the school setting. We haven't had that experience. This is not a reaction against anything. This is us deciding to move to another model to see what benefits it may bring to our family. I have to say that all the homeschooling families we've met have great relationships with their kids. Not to say that there aren't problems, everyone has those, but on the whole the relationships are not as adversarial as I've seen in many other families. Their children are well-adjusted and get on well with people of all ages.

As I look into it more, I wonder whether the school model is really the best one for our children. To be kept in large groups of like-aged people is certainly not the way society functions, and yet we train children to only compete with - and learn among - their own peers. When I think of it this way it seems very limiting. Having looked somewhat into the history of the school system as an entity and seeing its roots in the Prussian model which was set up to train soldiers and then the industrial revolution where schools' main function was to train people to be factory workers, I didn't really want to subscribe wholeheartedly to either of those philosophies. Admittedly most people don't. But if the system was set up to be ideal for those circumstances, what did it leave out? Now that we have the implementation of the whole day kindergarten coming in our province, I see even more the hand of outside philosophies taking a formative role in our children's lives.

When we had our first child I took maternity leave from my job, figuring that I would most likely need to go back to work. As that time came my heart really ached at the thought of handing my child over to someone else every day. Someone else would see their firsts, fill their days and teach them so many things. We knew about the stats that simply having a parent in the home with the child brings down the risks of all sorts of problems, and contributes to better outcomes in school etc. So we decided at that time that I would stay home with our child(ren). We believed it was the best thing we could do for our kids.

As we came to make the decision about homeschooling, I felt conflicted. I didn't have problems with the school, and I felt like I needed to justify the decision to whoever might critique it. In talking it over with the TiPSI Dad, I realized that this was just what I had come to believe was best for our children. In so many ways I felt that the school schedule was interfering with a lot of the life lessons I wanted to give my kids. When was I to teach them all the things that I dearly wanted them to know? Mornings were devoted to the rush to get out to school on time. Afternoons were filled with homework and evenings with dinner preparation which finished with time to eat and then start the routine of getting little ones to bed!

So next year we're going to try doing it differently. To be honest I'm quite daunted by the amount of self-discipline this will require! I don't think I really have it! On the other hand I know there's no other way to get it than to require it of myself. You never gain muscle by just waiting for it to grow without working it. I'm not making any grand predictions, or claims that we'll do a perfect job, but I feel like if I don't try, I may miss out on the best parts of my kids' lives, and they won't have the opportunities that thinking outside the box can provide.