Life with children rarely goes as planned. What matters, though, is the way we honor our children while we raise them. Here’s how to love your children again.
Change and runny noses are the only constants in parenting.
Runny noses I can handle. Change? Not so much.
I thrive on sameness. Routine makes me happy. I like to plan for everything, and I prefer everything to have a plan.
I might be in the wrong profession.
Truthfully, consistency in motherhood isn’t a bad thing. My favored mode provides a steady base, a firm foundation where my children can thrive. The problem occurs when my expectations for sameness get in the way of their personalities.
Because I know how I would react in certain situations, I expect the same from them.
As I’m sure you know, neither life nor motherhood works that way.
The incongruity between expectation and reality has become strikingly evident this school year. I’ve created a pattern where we are doing the same things we’ve always done, just because we’ve always done them.
Some things flourish under the auspices of tradition. Like my Catholic faith. The British Empire. The original Star Wars Trilogy.
Homeschooling twice exceptional gifted kids?
Not so much.
We’ve been fighting a lot. School has lacked luster. And for the most part, the girls are pretty unhappy.
It feels like I’ve forgotten how to love them, and in truth, I probably have.
Learning to Love My Children (Again)
When I pulled our oldest out of school five years ago, it was because the school environment didn’t love her.
I could accommodate her needs, encourage her gifts, and minimize her struggles in a way traditional schooling could not.
We carefully reviewed curriculum options and settled on a classical hybrid program. It worked beautifully until it didn’t.
That “didn’t” is now.
The girls have made it very clear they are no longer interested in attending. I have fought this desire long and hard:
- we paid for the program
- they need to learn to stick things out
Those are indeed valid reasons. But I’ve also resisted making any sort of change because of my own bullheadedness.
I don’t like to change things midcourse. It gives me a huge dose of the heebie-jeebies.
But my children are not me, and no amount of forcing the issue will make it so. They dread doing their schoolwork, and I find myself once again fielding the sort of emails I used to dread when my oldest was in school:
- Mrs. Kochis, she ran from the classroom today.
- Mrs. Kochis, your daughter is refusing to participate in her afternoon classes.
- Mrs. Kochis, please talk to the girls about respect, responsibility, and restraint
I have. I am. I will.
But what I need to do first is honor my children – their personalities, their temperaments, and their excitabilities.
While I have always loved my children without question, I am re-learning how to love them.
How do they learn best?
What do they need from me?
Where does our home life need to go?
As such, I’ve started to do more of the following:
I actually ask their opinion
What do they think about the choices we’re making? They are involved in this effort, too, and I owe it to them to know how they feel.
I listen to what they have to say, even when they don’t say a word
Of course, I listen to them all the time, but how often am I really taking in what they are telling me? Is a sassy attitude just a sassy attitude? Or is it an indication that she needs more time with me?
I reduce the amount of pressure
We homeschool so we have the freedom to do things the way we want to do them. If the kids aren’t up for completing their co-op workbooks, they don’t have to complete them. What matters is whether or not they are learning. The most authentic learning comes from experience, not filling in the blanks.
I spend time being present
We go to the park. We read books. We write together. I make sure we are actively engaging one another, not just rushing from one task to the next. That’s kind of why I started homeschooling in the first place.
I know I said earlier that change and runny noses are the only constants in parenting. But there’s definitely one more, and that’s love. Learning how to love them is the smartest thing I’ve ever done.
That’s the kind of change I can get behind.