Monday, May 7, 2012

when your best just isn't good enough for other people

In a perfect world listening to my mother-in-law speak about how home schooling two kids is hard, standing alone while the rest of the family is seated at my kitchen table leaving no room for me to join them, eating & questioning the breakfast I had made, talking to one child about his school & life (all his answers 'I don't know' & 'nothing') but never addressing the other, yes, in a perfect world I won't have felt like killing someone with a fork. 
It could all be just my perception of the moment.  Perhaps they didn't realize it was Boo who was studying the Transcontinental railroad so telling her step-brother (who just shrugged at the suggestion) he should go see it and not mentioning it to her was a simple mistake.  And perhaps She didn't mean to imply home schooling one child is easy & therefore what I am doing isn't as important as what others are doing or that the puffed pancake was lumpy, which in all fairness it was.  The grandparents didn't mean to only make plans with us when the step-son is in town or ignore Boo's art she was trying to show them.  Boo's Papa doesn't mean to work late when it is just us and get off early when her brother is here or work all weekend on a project with him but forget when she has gymnastics & when she doesn't... Blended families aren't easy on any one.  I will be the first to admit the child being shorted on this arrangement is not Boo; she lives with both her parents.  But home schooling as a blended family is that much more complex, especial when one is in school and one is not.  Don't worry I got it covered. I am the one who deals with the fall out from the uneven events & the 'but why's' my oldest sister has said: there simply is no prize for being capable. 
I'm still very sick but today we started school at 7:30 am & finished at 3:30.  We watched Stick It, a movie about gymnastics, worked in 2 different English workbooks, did 3 pages of math, played an hour of math bowl (2 & 3-digit carrying), 2 rounds of Bean Bag Toss math, I taught an 8 yr old to how to make a pie crust from scratch for tonight's dinner (meat hand pies in the fridge and ready to go) & we worked on fractions, read three chapters of Superfudge, completed an art project, studied Death Valley, loaded the dishwasher 2x, did three loads of laundry, cleaned 1 bathroom, watered the garden, feed the chickens, and cleaned up half a dozen mystery messes around the house.  Yet after all that I can't shake the feeling that it isn't enough.  It isn't enough that Boo is bright and safe and well cared for.  That the house is mostly clean, I am dressed & tidy, and despite the oversight on his part of leaving me money to go to the market we will be nicely feed, no mention of the error, no nagging, no phone call to complain. 
No, it isn't enough, the house could be made perfect, the grass trimmed, Boo could memorizing facts, speaking three languages, we could have been in the mountains hiking, or a pool working on the butterfly, or...there are a thousand ideals of others we could chase. 
I honestly believe I am a good mom and that I am good at home schooling.  I two older magnificent children and little Boo is not so shabby herself as the undefeated 2 yr in a row State gymnastics champ in her levels! A little voice inside my heart says 'look at us don't we make you happy just as we are?' and the voice inside my head tells me 'it's not enough.'  becasue it isn't really the mean things people say to you that tear you down, it is the nice things they don't say that break your heart.
It has just been such a long time since someone over the age of 8 has told me I was doing a good a job.


  1. You're doing a great job. And there's only one person you have to answer to each day, and that's the one looking back at you in the mirror.

    Now, where's my manuscript to edit?

  2. I know this feeling exactly.
    I have made the list of a day's accomplishments and asked myself, "What more do you expect?"
    Usually I end up crying at the end of this cycle, calling my mother, and getting reminded of all I do in another person's voice.
    It helps. It doesn't take away the nagging completely.
    I don't think this ambition has to be negative...this question of what more could I do?
    Cognitive dissonance. a useful pest.
    I think you are an outstanding individual. You pay attention enough to write something worth reading, and to take pictures worth looking at. And you do it everyday. That is a dedicated and beautiful practice. One I appreciate very much.