Sunday, October 12, 2014

Room to breath

Josh--5th grade
For the first time in a very, very long time, life feels good.

It's not perfect, but good.

My bedroom has been clean for more than a week. Nary a pile has been left on the floor in that entire time.

The basement, which is usually the pit of junk and despair, has maintained a rather neat appearance for almost two weeks.

I've had moments where I thought, huh, I have nothing immediate to do right now.

What has brought about this new, most wonderful state of mind?

Two things (and you bet I'm going to tell you about them):

Katie--4th grade
1) In my homeschool, the big three are mature enough learners to not need me to hold their hand as they work through their assignments. I don't need to look over their shoulder to watch every math problem or listen to anyone sound out each agonizing word. In general, I can give assignments and help as needed (and sometimes, not at all needed, which is a new feeling altogether). Having a 5th, 4th, and 2nd grader means that I am past the most intensive, hands-on times of learning and into much more interesting and fun discussions and connections and projects that don't make me want to pull my hair out.

Also, as we planned this year, we built in significant breaks for me. I love my kids, but need a bit of space. So, every Monday they go to 'school' with a bunch of other homeschool kids and do all the fun stuff that I totally ignored (let's be honest). They build friendships, are challenged in a school setting, and round out their education in one day! Last week, OG kept speaking in Spanish to me all afternoon. And J dismantled an object today to get at the electronics of it. Life without teaching phonics is wonderful!

Olivia--2nd Grade
2) The biggest improvement (Glory, hallelujah!) is that Mali is in preschool--EVERY SINGLE DAY--from 8 until noon. She is in a great classroom with a teacher who is willing to work with us to teach and parent Mali well. And in her classroom of 15 kids, she is not the only one with brown skin, which in itself is beautiful to me. So for these four hours every day, we all get a little space from each other.

I have to admit, that as a homeschool mom, I had beautiful but naive pictures of our family cuddling on the coach reading stories--and in this way our new daughter would assimilate into our family. But the truth of the matter is this: I have a daughter from a hard and traumatic place. It is hard work to be her mom, it requires patience, diligence, and a special set of parenting skills. She needs structure, and clear order and expectations. And while I can do that in some ways, our homeschool doesn't work that way. She needs structure and order and direct teaching in order to overcome her gaps and become the best Mali she can be. And I can't provide that for her. In this way, in a new way, I've learned, it really takes a village. Although no one is going to do the hard attachment work that we are in the midst of, Mali needs all kinds of love and support, from many people.

And don't be mistaken that just because everything is going well that we don't still struggle with sibling rivalry and attachment issues and bad attitudes and defiance, special learning challenges and anger.

But there is much more peace, calm, laughter and even, dare I say it, moments of Joy.

We have travelled a long journey in the past year and half.

And after tears, my own anger, questions, I can truly say this:

I am blessed woman.

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