Monday, October 09, 2006

A fragile day

You know those days when everything feels as though it is going against you? When life catches up on you and grabs you by the ankles. When perspective and reason go out of the window. Fragile days when your coping mechanisms fail. Today was one of those.

I posted before about trying to declutter my mother's house so that she can move nearer to us. Her mobility is getting worse so I am doing it single handed (with baby attached). Her arthritic hip has deteriorated badly and she is now waiting for hip replacement surgery. Unfortunately this may take some time as the National Health Service has a waiting list, and there is no way we can afford to pay for a non-NHS private operation. I can cope with the decluttering and packing up by taking it one step at a time and not thinking about the scale of the task. I can cope with helping her through the surgery. Just.

My mother phoned at the weekend to say that my brother has been diagnosed with testicular cancer. The doctor is optimistic that surgery will fix it, and it is one of the most curable cancers. It sounds as though he will have surgery sometime over the next couple of weeks. However, my brother tends to be uncommunicative when things are not going well, and has gone to ground (switched off his phone) so I haven't been able to find out more. I can cope with this extra worry. Just.

Homeschooling Star can be a struggle because her attention span and concentration are terrible. (I've been pondering a post on the "habit of inattention".) Usually I can cope with this, though I yell more than I would like. (Sometimes yelling is the only way to get Star to notice something. Sometimes she is just plain exasperating.)

Homeschooling Angel has its ups and downs, but so far this term has been pretty good. Until today when she went into a major sulk over her maths. Yes, that's right. The maths I just said was going so well. Usually I can cope with Angel's sulks, which mercifully happen much less often than they used to, but today it was just the final straw. Everyone ended in tears. The temptation to simply give up and send her to school - tomorrow if possible - was almost overwhelming. Unlike many families we have never homeschooled because we have an issue with the local schools, but because we feel home education has advantages that outweigh school. These include the ability to spend time together as a family, and to spend more time on things that interest the girls. Ending up with tears and damaged relationships over maths was never meant to be part of the deal. Angel has recently begun to talk about going to school to be with her friends. We think school is likely to be part of her future but when we reach that stage we want it to be a positive choice, not an opt-out clause because home education has become a burden or a cause of resentment.

We quit. We turned the TV on and watched part of a zoo programme. We ate lunch. Equilibrium was restored. We spent the afternoon playing Anatomix, a human body quiz game, and making Little Cherub giggle.

Time for a reality check, I think. My plans for the year looked ambitious but manageably so. But I reckoned without the other factors. Reality is ...

  • I have a sick mother who is going to need a lot of help over the next few months.
  • I have a sick brother who may also need help.
  • I have a four month old nursing baby.
  • I am still recovering from a tough pregnancy.
  • I want my daughters to enjoy being at home.
  • I want to enjoy time with my daughters.
I know from experience that without a plan we will do little or nothing, but I also know I can make a plan flexible enough to work for me. Time to lighten up on the plan and use it as a springboard and not fall into the trap of letting it be a straightjacket. Also time to read Elizabeth Foss's article on burnout in Real Learning. I may not be there yet, but I can see we could be heading that way.


Elizabeth said...

Much, much sympathy from a fellow UK home edder. I'm just at the start of the journey and with little wisdom to share. I've also had my moments (many) of thinking of chucking in the towel but I'm sure that, for us at least, the home ed package is better, even with all the stressful extras. (A wry Dominican friend calls it 'Jesus with his baseball bat'!!)

Anyway, be assured of my prayers.

Alice said...

Many prayers for you, your mother, your brother, and your domestic church.

We all have those exceedingly rough days when everything seems to weigh against us. Things will get better.

Many prayers being said for you now.

The Bookworm said...

Thank you Elizabeth and Alice. The prayers are much appreciated! God willing, today will be a better day.

Faith R said...

Hi Kathryn,

I'll pray for your brother and mom. You sound like your head is clearing and you are getting more realistic. Be gentle with yourself, you really do have a lot on your plate.



Cay said...

You are all in my prayers, Kathryn.