Six months ago I was with a homeschooling mom friend of mine. She said something that really got me thinking and I have been thinking of this on and off since then.
She said that in spring 2007 she went to a homeschool support group meeting and met a mother who had just pulled her child out of school to homeschool the child. The mom was looking for homeschool support and to find a network of new friends in the homeschooling community. Later my friend ran into this person again somewhere else.
(For the record I have never met this person.)
Anyhow my friend bumped into her again in the late summer, and the mom said she was putting her child back into school in the fall. The reason she said was that she had met a bunch of homeschool moms and felt she did not want to be like them. She felt all the moms were overly involved in their children’s lives to a point of obsession, that it was unhealthy. She felt the moms were very unbalanced (out of balance with their own selves) and were self-sacrificing in a bad way and that she felt it was unhealthy. She wanted no part of that kind of life for herself. She felt the family lifestyles of the families she met were suffering and were negative in some ways due to this imbalance. I am not speaking of overly busy families, the criticism was made about individual women, the homeschooling mothers and their own lives and personas.
My friend and I spoke about our own lives and if we felt we were unbalanced. I shared that at times I have felt over-scheduled and overly busy and that I didn’t like that kind of pace of life. However I feel that I am not obsessed with my children. I also have many areas of interest and so not all of my energy goes to homeschooling. I have friends and extended family on both sides who we see regularly and who compete for our family’s time and energy.
I thought for a moment and we talked about how we pay for lessons and activities for our kids which are way above and beyond what we ourselves experienced in our childhood. Back at that time I was considering martial arts lessons for my younger son as he was asking for them. That friend of mine also wanted them for one of her son’s and the boy expressed that he wanted to be in a class with a friend. So we were looking for a karate class they could take together.
Later on after investigation local options I realized the place with a schedule that worked for me was $210 per month (2 group classes per week and a choice to take a third optional group class). The one she liked was $240 per month which covered 2 group classes per week and a Saturday private lesson. I decided for our family that it was too much money compared to our budget. I also compared it to the fact that I wanted to join a health club but was not due to the expense yet the cost of my own gym membership was a fraction of that martial arts cost for ONE child. Yet how many parents would pay for the martial arts class while they are themselves overweight and not in shape and their own bodies needed some physical exercise? So there is an example of how I do not put my child’s desires above my own sometimes. Instead the family budget was an issue and the family budget won. When the budget is increased the first thing that is happening is I am buying myself a gym membership.
I wonder if what the mother was trying to adjust to was the “homeschooling lifestyle” being so different than what she had experienced as the mother of a schooled child. I have no idea.
I still think about this idea from time to time and have been wondering what other people think of the life of the homeschooling mother and if it is unbalanced ? Is it common to obsess over the children in the family to the expense of the mother’s health and/or happiness? Do people take what I consider to be a family-centered lifestyle as abnormal, unnatural or unhealthy, is that the issue?
I think sometimes I’m using this as a self-check of sorts when I am thinking about balance in life and making plans and schedules. I ask myself if I am putting the child above the family as a whole. I ask myself if I can commit to one more thing when I’m already feeling stressed about something else not getting done. I figure out if I need to do something for my own self instead of adding on one more task or long-term commitment for one of the children.
Note: To clear up confusion, I edited the title to 'out of balance' instead of 'unbalanced'. I am sorry that some think that unbalanced is a synonym for insanity or mental illness, that was never my intention.
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