"In the long run, we shape our lives, and we shape ourselves. The process never ends until we die. And the choices we make are ultimately our own responsibility.”
We all have choices to make in this world. When I first got pregnant and held my first daughter, schooling was the farthest thing from my mind. I read a bunch of books about ways to parent, took a breast-feeding class and a baby basics class. I thought back to all the kids I baby-sat and how they were parented and how I was raised. But when it came down to it, I followed my gut.
I've always felt like I had pretty good intuition. I tend to rely on my instincts more than my intellect. So we co-slept, I nursed long term. I let my children self-wean instead of relying on someone else's standard of when my child should start and/or stop doing something. I never wanted to go the traditional school route, so I found Montessori which I loved. Then I learned about homeschooling. I liked having my girls around, I was never one of those parents who couldn't wait to get their kids into school, or who dread summer vacation and can't wait until fall so they can be rid of their kids again. (Don't get me started on the parents who say those things in front of their kids! That's another post!)
When we started homeschooling and using curriculum, we were miserable and it felt 'wrong". So I went back to my gut and got rid of the curriculum and read all about unschooling and knew that was the way for us. Some people don't understand it, some people don't get it. Whatever.
Now my girls are getting older and it's time for them to start listening to themselves. My oldest wants to go to high school. I think she's old enough to make this decision for herself. Some people I know think I shouldn't let her go. That's not what my heart is telling me. My heart is telling me it's time to trust and let go. It's time to loosen the apron strings a bit and allow her this opportunity. She might hate it and want to come running home. That's ok, I'll welcome her with open arms. Or she might love it and pull a little further away. That's ok too, she needs to figure out who she is and who she wants to be. It's not my job as her mother to protect her from living her own life.
Life is a wonderful gift, and I think too many people (I hate to lay the blame on Christians again, but here goes) Christians in particular, are so afraid of the world. They are so afraid to let their children meet or hang out with non-Christians, to let their children date or listen to certain music, etc., etc. How on earth are these kids going to survive as adults? Unless one lives in a commune, one has to engage in the world. I suppose families like the Duggars who keep their daughters in the closet until their husbands come calling would say no, one doesn't always need to engage in the world, but I disagree. I think it is far worse to shelter our children and leave them completely unprepared than it is to allow them into the world and let them make their own choices.
Of course I don't agree a six year old can make the same choices as a teen. It's all relative. And I admit I was a bit sheltering of my girls when they were younger. But now that they are entering those teen years, I have to hope that the things they have learned thus far will fare them well in the future. I remember when I was 14 (like my eldest). My mom was such a control freak, so I lied and snuck around. It would have been so much better if she could've listened to me and understood me and had an open relationship with me. My 14 year old daughters opinions are valid. Her concerns about her life are real. I think we have a relationship built on mutual repsect and trust. And I know she is wise and able to make smart decisions. I hear some of her friends talk and it saddens me. They are all mostly homeschoolers and a lot of them wish they had the opportunity to go to school. Their parents will never let them. Even as teens, they are not allowed to make any decisions regarding their own lives. Then there's the other camp of kids who dread even running into "public" school kids, lest they somehow become contaminated with their "worldliness". These kids parents have them paranoid about anyone who is not doing things just like them. One girl was talking about going to Community College next year. She said she visited and was "frightened" by the people there. You know, those "real world" people we all have to encounter everyday! Geez! Her parents have done her no favors.
I'm not trying to sing my own praises and act like I am mom of the year. But I do think my kids like me, and they often tell me I am a way better mom than any of their friends. I never would have said that about my own mom. I just want my girls to grow up confident in themselves and their abilities. To be able to go into the world and view it with wonder not fear. Of course not everyone "out there" is like us, and how boring it would be if they all were.
"A human being is a part of the whole that we call the universe, a part limited in time and space. He experiences himself, his thoughts and feelings, as something separated from the rest -- a kind of optical illusion of his consciousness. This illusion is a prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for only the few people nearest us. Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living beings and all of nature."