Homeschool Angst

I wrote this after I attended my first ever homeschool support group meeting. Perhaps it was odd since I haven't started homeschooling quite yet—our first day will be next week. But I know I'll want a group of like-minded moms once I'm in the trenches. So tonight was the night.

I think I need a Support Group support group.

I took notes during the meeting, not many, but here they are:

And since it's hard to read my handwriting, this is what I wrote.

CM group

I am stupid.
panic attack feeling – sick in stomach
someone with 11 kids – oh god help
pink sun agnst. bldg outside – run
can I make it?
flashback of factory wk
pull-out chart – 6 pgs together
colored sticky notes
agonizing pain in seat
write in pencil so you can erase it
and it was never there

Those who were there (like the friend I had ice cream with later – our post-group support session) will know what that means. Anyone else will think I’ve lost my mind. But last night I wondered if I had.

I took a semester off from college to figure out what I wanted to do before I got more deeply in debt than I already was, and during that winter and spring I worked odd jobs. I worked in a coffee shop, I worked retail in the mall, I signed up through a temp agency and spent a few weeks in a floral-arrangement sweat shop (except it was very, very chilly). And once summer came I worked in a factory for one eternal day. My job was to load cardboard onto one end of a machine and watch it get sucked down to the other end where two girls (I assume – I never saw them) took the now-folded and -glued cardboard and packed it into boxes.

On the far side of the factory floor was a window, small and high in the metal-sheeted wall. A blue patch of sky, waving branches of an oak. I was supposed to hit a button if the machine jammed, but instead I stared out the window. A thousand times in each of those torturous hours I imagined crossing the factory floor, sprouting wings, escaping. The next day I got a job at McDonald’s and worked there until returning to school in the fall.

I think hell will have a window like that, into heaven.

And so last night, the back door to the classroom (where our meeting was held) stood open, and across the parking lot the setting sun glowed off a metal-sheeted building. I half-listened to homeschool veterans describe their typical days, show their hand-illustrated spiral-bound planning and record-keeping journals, discuss field trips to nature centers in other parts of the state. And I looked out the door in my panic-induced haze thinking if I bolted fast enough no one would even see me leave.

How can I teach even one child to read, let alone all three? How can I keep a (somewhat sanitary) house? How can I do any of that and write?

I didn’t run screaming out the door, because of one wise woman. In the discussion of planning, of to-do lists and assignments she said,

“Just write it in pencil, and if you don’t get it done you can erase it. Then it’s like it was never there.”

Words to live by.