Many years ago, a seasoned homeschool friend told me about homeschooling humps that everyone hits in November and February and how, instead of making drastic decisions because nothing feels like it's working, there might be sense in waiting it out, giving it a go, and not assuming that something is terribly wrong. I really valued that advice because, like clockwork, I hit those humps. They felt terrible. I felt terrible as a teacher, as a mother, as a person. Moreover, I was not even sure that my kids would not have been better off in school somewhere, under someone else's care. I would be working, plugging in nine to five and be a productive member of the society. And the torture and drudgery would cease. Usually, when I waited just long enough, and reset enough, I would overcome those humps and would go back to star-eyed homeschool devotee, trying to convince others to give it a try.
Around the time that I had my youngest, I hit a major hump. With child number five, I thought I was an old pro at this whole parenting and homeschooling and getting balance thing. I gave it time. I waited. I schemed and arranged. I sent this one to school, these ones to preschool, this one out. I demanded support and cleaning help in the house. I searched for babysitters and nannies. I tried online school. I even tried moving into a different community, hoping that being within walking distance from the park and JCC and other frum homeschoolers will make a difference. Yet the hump kept on not getting smaller. I just could not go over it.
I was desperate.
I was depressed.
I was so miserable that I made a decision to send all the children to school, including the youngest, in the middle of the year just so I could get a reset. I sent them all out, but I did not recapture that feeling of peace that I was after. I breathed, but it was shallow panting.
Then, the following year, I kept my second child home and sent everyone else to school. It was clear by this point that whatever issues my child was having had nothing to do with my educational approach and that he needed homeschooling/unschooling to function. In fact, I started out again in the place of desperation: there was no good school to send him to. It was a year of hell, for many private and personal reasons. I felt like I was still climbing over the hump, out of breath, and miserable.
This year I have two at home. It is not perfect. But it is significantly better. They get along really well. They are content, for the most part. My daughter picked up reading. My son is (finally!) expressing interest in trying out things that he never would have attempted before. I am slowly, slowly rebuilding myself. I do not doubt myself anymore, not today, at least. When the kids are happy, momma is happy. They are also older, can be left at home alone, can work independently. I can get out, take a walk, run errands, make it to appointments on my own.
It only took me good three years, but I think I am getting over this hump.
I am glad that we live at a time with long life expectancy. I can afford the luxury of spending this part of my life on homeschooling, and then still feel like there will be plenty of time to work, develop interests, get involved in projects.