18 February 2013
unschool monday :: sunshine & lollipops
It's not, you know. All sunshine and lollipops. Some days in this unschooling life are downright difficult. Like they are for any family working, learning, playing and just getting on with life. Some days, some weeks, some months, some years are just hard. Sometimes there's no clear reason why. Sometimes it's because we're trying to do something outside of the norm and there's not much support for that. Sometimes it's because the only support you have is each other and that's not always enough... Sometimes it's because no-one slept or someone's sick or we're all a bit more fragile than normal... maybe it's the moon? Let's call it that.
But it's something that is hard to talk about here. Perhaps because it seems we've chosen a different path to the norm in a society that doesn't generally support the notion of kids at home all day and five people individually doing what they need in order to be happy and learn cool stuff. There's a certain need to keep our chins up to defend the choices we've made. So as not to be encouraged away from them and towards a mainstream path which didn't seem right in the first instance... It's not that it isn't perfectly right for others, it just isn't for us. The hardest part is trying to find support to make that balance happen and to lessen the expectation society has that we are all self-reliant beings all of the time.
We expect lots from the time we have and the freedom that we have and we strive for it... We keep a modest home in a lovely place and fill it with quirky second-hand finds and things that bring us colour and joy. We run a business and Huz holds down a full-time job and we provide all the tools our children need to learn. We think about what our children are interested in and research opportunities for it, which we love doing, truly. And we squeeze every last spare minute of the day for a quiet moment to exercise, rest or ponder... But we do it all without the benefit of the childcare or financial support that school provides, or the second income many families are afforded. Extended family are living full and wonderful lives in far off places, as are we, so we learn to become self-sufficient. Sometimes it carries us through beautifully... Other times we just need a breather. There are as many sacrifices as there are benefits in this unschooling life.
Community can provide support, but establishing solid community around you takes time and patience. The community around you when you choose something outside the mainstream becomes somewhat smaller, which can be a lovely thing... but it can also mean that you are actively involved in your children's social lives, as they are yours. You have to make things happen with and for them. Which can complicate things somewhat, as we've found in recent years. Your time is family time. And true, solid, dependable friendships can be few and far between.
In the scheme of things, in a lifetime, the difficult days, the hard stuff... The needing to clear your head and breathe, and be alone... it is merely a blip. As the years roll on by, the time we spend in this family zone, learning together and watching our owlets grow... Supporting them to find what makes their hearts sing their loudest... That's the most important work; the most rewarding thing we can do. And that is why we choose this. Because in the end, like the blog posts I feel happiest recording here, or the photo albums I look back over, those are the ones we want to remember. And thankfully, those sunshine and lollipop days make up the majority of our time and make it all worthwhile.
There was a blog post last year that was doing the rounds of my facebook feed recently and sparked a huge, rather venomous backlash against unschooling mama and blogger, Soulemama, recently. She tends not to blog the hard stuff, leaning more towards the sunshine and lollipops. She doesn't do it to hurt readers, or provide judgement on their lives. She does it, I suspect, as many of us have done, in order to look back and see that it was worthwhile. There were more sunshine and lollipops than dull, dark cabbage soup days after-all. That choice they made, the sacrifices and compromises that were made in order to make other days brighter... it was worth it.
When I look over all the photos we've taken of our outings or activities done at home... of our creations and general day-to-day stuff, I often think "Wow, I want that life! I wish we could fit that much awesome into our days!" Have you ever thought that when looking over family photos? When you read a blog, you are getting a snippet of a life. When you read about someone saying how happy and wonderful everything is, you are reading a snippet of someone expressing their joy. This doesn't equate to a judgement on you and your chosen lifestyle. It is just their life, as they choose to see it. Sometimes they choose to see the sunshine and lollipops. We do, for the most part. But there's always, always room for a helping hand, a supportive ear, lots of compassion, and and understanding that we are all human, all doing our best, and all hoping for sunshine and lollipops each day.
I'm of two minds whether to continue along with unschool mondays... maybe it's a this time of year thing... maybe it's because I forget that we're unschooling most days, because we just don't really think of school much anymore. It's hard to be un-something if it doesn't really fit into your life at all. Perhaps unschool monday's time has passed? Let me know what you think and if you feel like leaving an unschool monday link, please do in the comments below. xx