Because most philosophies that frown on reproduction don't survive.

Wednesday, September 06, 2023

How It's Going

We are slipping. For about two and a half weeks, we went to bed very punctually, every school child tucked in early so we'd be ready to get up sharp. Every morning felt like the morning of a big road trip, a bit of shock and awe and hitting the ground running.

But our family culture has been shaped by 22 years of late nights, and our best conversations and problem solving and inside jokes happen after the rest of the world is in bed. That culture cannot just be shifted on the whim of trying out the school lifestyle, even though the school lifestyle is predicated on getting up early. The question now becomes: do we really want to shift that culture? 

And we still have eight months left in the school year.

Most people who make the shift from homeschooling to institutional schooling do it because in some way, homeschooling has failed them. There's no judgment in that. Everyone's family culture is different and requires different trade-offs, and sometimes school offers a stability or an accountability that serves a family in the way that it needs. But we are not failed homeschoolers. We love homeschooling, and miss it, with a visceral, breathless ache. Our marriage, our family from the very start, our intellectual development, our way of interacting with the world, has been shaped by the freedom and flexibility that homeschooling offers. Our friendships, the way we serve our parish and our neighbors and our families, all of these were strengthened by our easy, gracious way of living and learning, remote from bureaucracy and management techniques. A family is not run like an institution.

Our family culture has also been shaped by having an adult on the ground, able to pivot to meet the day's challenges and pick up the slack. Household maintenance, doctor's visits, emergencies, and the freedom to be gentle with a small human who may not be incapacitated, but may need an easier day than the regimentation of a school day spent out of the home can provide. The freedom to be in house as dinner simmers all day. The freedom to pick up and drive to visit family out of town. The freedom to start something while one is fresh.

I am in awe of my friends who are long-term teachers. They do amazing, necessary work. I also do amazing, necessary work. But I did long-term amazing, necessary work before this year, at home. And that work is still necessary, and I still want to do it.

And there are still eight months left in the school year.


Anonymous said...

A similar struggle here, perhaps (though I may be projecting)… I am in the bookstore 8-9 hours a day, 5 days a week, and half of the time I love being there and am so happy to be there, love the work, love the people, but the other half I am desperately wishing I could be at home. I do not consider myself a homemaker or even someone who aspires to be a homemaker; I have always wanted to work at something in some capacity and not just be a stay at home mom or wife. But I do wish I had just a little more time, a little more freedom even, to be at home working on something… homey. No children in the mix yet, but I can only imagine what that will look like eventually… I hope all goes well for you and that you find a rhythm within the next eight months. We really admire all that you do and wish you the very best ❤️

mandamum said...

I will be praying for you, Mrs. Darwin! Periodically I wonder what I want to do "when I grow up" (or in 13 yrs when the last kid graduates) but for now I love doing THIS. At least when no one is screaming....


Dear Anonymous, I want to (very gently) suggest that when you say that you have never wanted to "just be a stay at home mom or wife," it may strike some as a slur. From the general content of your comments, I imagine that you don't intend to denigrate SAHMs, so I just point this out to be helpful.

Aria said...

Hello! I apologize, I meant to post under my own name (blogger ate it, as usual), and I did not mean to use any phrase in a derogatory manner. I have enormous respect for stay at home moms; my mother is one, and so is her mother. However, I have a complex relationship with the role because of things I was taught growing up, and have never been comfortable with adopting it for myself. I know for many people it is a freeing and totally fulfilling role that they wouldn’t give up for the world; for myself, to try to conform myself into such a role (as I understand it) is a very emotionally distressing prospect. However, I still have the desire to spend some of my time at home doing homemaking tasks. My intention was to express the tension between these two desires. I apologize if I offended anyone with my comment. I do not often comment on blog posts anymore and perhaps I could use brushing up on my internet etiquette (or simply refrain from sticking my oar in, as the case may be :)

MrsDarwin said...


I didn't read any disrespect into your comment! Indeed, I know exactly what you mean about "homey". I don't know why the words "homey" or "homely" have traditionally been used in a slightly derogatory way -- what could be more comforting than something that reminds you of home?

I once read that the economy is simply people making choices about what they can produce for themselves in the home, and what they need to outsource because they can't or don't want to produce it for themselves in the home. Various kinds of work can bring various kinds of fulfillment, but we know that in the beginning it was not so. The family (and the perfect home) is the original unit of creation, and all work comes afterward. Work isn't bad! But it has to serve the purpose of supporting the home. And I don't think there's anything wrong with feeling the draw of home.

Aria said...

Mrs Darwin,

I would actually (gently!!!) disagree; in Eden, Adam and Eve worked to tend and keep the Garden, and their work was good from the beginning. I know you come from a Catholic perspective, and I was raised Protestant, so perhaps the teachings differ somewhat. But I was always taught that work was created good and did not come as a result of the Fall; work was made toilsome by the Fall, but it did not start out that way. We would say that work (all kinds of legitimate work, including housework) is emphatically good! I think we would agree that it should serve the purpose of supporting a household, and not just be work for work’s own sake (or for the sake of gaining money selfishly or something), but work in and of itself is good. That is why I feel that there is a legitimate tension between me wanting to work and wanting to be at home sometimes; they are both good, and I do not think that I would be very happy with doing only one or the other. So I somewhat understand the struggle with you wanting to a) do the good work of teaching in school and b) do the good work of being home with your family. I think that they are both good things, and that is where the tension lies.

I hope you will forgive my waffling; I miss having friendly discussions online, and this seemed like a nice forum for that, so I thought I would try my hand 🙈

Michelle Alspaugh said...

Thank you for referring to what we do as amazing, necessary work. These past three years have worn on my soul down to the smallest nub and I fantasize about walking away and doing different work that does not pierce at my entire being.
Yet, I will stay the course. I don't know what this next year brings for your family. But whoever is in your care is lucky to be in your orbit, with you to steady them.

Emily J. said...

Feeling very similar feelings about teaching and schedules. It's 12:41! I should be in bed! I don't feel called to return to homeschooling since we only have one left at home in that age range, but I miss the freedom and time to do family things. I'm enjoying the kids and the teaching, but the documentation/paperwork side of the job is SO MUCH work. I think things will ease up when I have a rhythm, but on the other hand, people walk away at different times from all kinds of jobs for all kinds of reasons.

mandamum said...

(Thinking of you Darwins - we now have only 7 more months in the year!!)