Thursday, 3 January 2013

Are you brave enough?


I need to write this. I need to say it. It's been bothering me for a while.

This year I need to express myself more clearly, bad shit and all.

Not that it's been terrible in any way, I don't mean that, for a second. No, no, no!

But I have this niggling feeling that I have been slightly sugar-coating my writing when it comes to how I have really felt about parenting and home ed this last year.

To make it more palatable.

To keep giving other home edders more of what they so like to hear - to soothe and placate and be politically correct.

So you won't all think I'm a bad mummy.

It's partly my fault, weaving a story to make everything alright, for my own sanity as much as anything.

The truth is I'm batshit bored as fuck with being a full-time home edder.

Good mummys are not supposed to say such things of course.

Good mummys don't get tired or bored of being with their children from morning till gone midnight.

Did you read that correctly? Yes. From morning till gone midnight. Because this is what my litle firecracker kids have fallen into doing - and not wanting to be all oppressive and authoritarian, I have tried to be a good unschooler and say hey, no problem guys!

This is the story I have been telling myself, re-inforced by hours of reading unschooling blogs where children are the biggest blessing ever and mummys should focus everything, EVERYTHING, every last ounce of her energy, on them, and do it all sweetly, without any bitchin' about it.

They are right - children are of course a blessing, but never being able to say they are a massive pain in the arse as well?

I get the feeling in the home ed world that there is an unwritten rule of sensorship.

I know where it comes from.

Home ed often is misunderstood, and so morons who have no idea about it write some stupid thoughtless article. Home edders get up in arms, vitriolically defending the cause on threads and filling up comments boxes, spitting feathers about their misportrayal, about how they have misjudged home ed as it really is. I have done it myself.

We get such a hard time having the very idea of home ed accepted in the media and in some circles. Some parents get so much flack for doing it from their own parents and peers, neigbours and perfect strangers. Some parents can't even agree between themselves whether to home ed their children or not.

So we fortify ourselves with reassuring books, success stories and all the happy happy wonderful stuff, We document the sweet bits. We show off the glorious moments, photographing it all, like one long happy photo album.

And it can all become rather over simplified. The world becomes split into two camps - those that school and those that don't. George Orwell's 'Two legs bad, four legs good' in Animal Farm...becomes 'School is bad, home is good.'

Some blogs, websites and articles in the home ed world literally do not ever stray into that twighlighty reality zone where we mothers feel racked with doubt, fear or a quiet, secret, sense of hopelessness about our children's frailties or about our own. It's almost as if there is a quiet agreement:

We will not say anything negative about home ed because it will make us look bad, incompetent, inadequate.

Singularly and as a community.

We musn't say anything that might damage the carefully edited side of home ed.

We must only report, showcase and document the gloriousness of it, creating a kind of positive-only, self-protecting, rose-tinted version of home ed.

We must only promote it as a positive option in every last case, for every moment of the day.

Rightly or wrongly, I have felt that there is an invisible gagging order on me, if I want to be liked and respected as a home ed writer.

No-one has ever told me to say only nice things, to report on the sweetness of it all. But I feel it as a silent agreement, across the whole home ed world.

Like we musn't give anyone ammunition to throw against us, because there's enough already.

This year I will be exploring many options for my children which may include some flexi-schooling.

I have devoted myself to my children for the last ten years giving them more than every ounce of my patience and energy. I am so proud of what I have done for them. The time I have given them.

But this year, I am recognising some basic truths. I do not have infinite patience, energy,and  imagination.

Parenting all day and late into the night is more than I can cope with, for seven days of every week.

It is an honour and a priviledge to be a mother to my boys, and I feel I have given them so much.

I love them absolutely, with all my heart.

I am utterly utterly grateful that we live in a free country where home ed exists, and believe passionately in it as a (mostly positive) alternative to school.

I can see the many benefits of home ed manifested in my own kids and in those who make up the lovely home ed community of which we are a part.

But this mama is tired.

And my kids need more Daddy energy this year. More outdoors energy. More out-in-the-big-wide world-without-mama energy. Different energy than the kind I'm putting out.

By respecting myself, my limitations, and by taking the time to nurture my other babies too- my writing and doula dreams, I hope to become a better mother this year.

A more generous and loving one.

A less tired one.

A more balanced one.

A happier one!

I hope you will step up and join me this year in writing more honestly and bravely about the rounded experience of parenting, of home ed, of living life to the full! I want to read all about the dark moments of your days, the murky bits, as well as the glorious ones.

Let's be more honest, more open, have more courage to break our moulds!

The word 'courage' is really speaking to me for 2013.

It literally means to be brave-hearted.

This is my pledge, my intention, out loud.

But I need your help to do it my dear readers. Give me the odd word, the odd comment on here. I don't want this blog to be a voyeuristic place of one-sided openness, where you can come and read about my fuck-ups and go back to your lives feeling smug.

If I write for you, you can give me some tiny words of your own.

It's a two-way thang my lovelies.

I need to hear your thoughts too.

It helps me to grow, to change, to learn.

I write to have a dialogue with you all, to get answers to questions I am not able to answer for myself.

If this blog becomes a one-way gig then I'm a quittin'!!!

So my dears, I hope you will join me in being brave and adding your own comments here. I hope you will feel safe to do so. I hope you will be brave enough to join in and be a part of this blog as I so need you all to be.

I have absolutely no interest in giving up my time for this blog, for a silent audience.

So if you value this space, if it moves you, if you need it in your life, chip in sometimes my lovelies.

I would love some guest posts on here this year - do you have something to say? Never been brave enough to speak out about your parenting? I'd love to hear from you!

Let's make 2013 a year of saying it like it is, speaking up, movin' on up, and living bigger and brighter lives, with more courage. I'll help you to do that if you do the same for me :-)

Big love to you all dearest readers, here's to a year of crapping our panties about our dreams but stepping up and doing it anyway.



  1. Great post! Loved it. I think it does get easier though - I am enjoying home-edding much more now that the children are older and more independent (and able to have intelligent conversations!). I don't feel I have to 'entertain' them all time, if you know what I mean.
    As to this :
    "where you can come and read about my fuck-ups and go back to your lives feeling smug."
    I think it would be more of a going back to our own lives feeling relieved! I am sure there must be some people who manage to do everything perfectly, and ENJOY reading 'Zoe and the Zebra' for the 8 millionth time - but most of us just muddle though and hope nobody notices how rubbish we are at everything!

  2. Thanks Julie. I think the feeling smug comment was aimed more at my non-home ed readers, not those of us living and breathing it day-to-day! But it's actually irrelevant because most parents don't get everything perfect all the time. I've just been reading too much Sandra Dodd and striving for a level of parenting perfection which is so much harder to do in real life than it says on the tin ;-)

  3. Iam so with you here! One of my goals for this year is to start my blog, to speak out, I have spent a lot of the last 1,5 years feeling really inadequate, and sometimes really messing things up with my kids, being a bad mum, but in a way that apparently most of my friends are being "bad mums" at times. I started to talk to people about my mistakes, and they got really relieved that there was a space to talk about the non perfection. We read about all these perfect lives, and when ours are not, it is so easy to want to quit.
    And funilly enough, as I completed my year for myeself the other day, I also got to really admit to myself that I am bored! But mostly bored of not being brave enough to speak my truth and to explore the world as I really secretly dream of, and to include my girls in this. So watch this space, might be some changes on the way. Also, I was giving my self such a hard time, until I realised that I could either give up, or accept my self and commit to being happy, so I chose the last, and it is changing my life every day. Thanks for speaking up. There is definitely a subconscious censorship happening when it comes to writing about home ed! hugs to you. Tine

  4. Thank you dear Tine. Lots of mama love and acceptance back atcha, its good to hear your voice here! May 2013 be your year to shine Tine! xx

  5. As usual Motherfunker your always writing what I'm thinking! I am really in awe of your ability to write the things that I sometimes feel so eloquently. I think it's so hard to write truthfully about the bad days because sometimes home educating feels like I've stood on a large box and declared my number one parental status above everyone else and I feel like I can't complain. But f**k some days are tough!!! Four children & the majority of time just me-no grandparents or babysitters to give me a break. I LOVE LOVE my kids but that doesn't always been I like them, of course there's days where I'd like to sit in a very quiet room by myself with a cup of tea. Then I feel guilty for ever thinking that way.
    I have to admit that I'm not feeling like home educating blogs are sustaining or reassuring me in the same way they were a year or two ago, I kind of feel like their making me feel a bit shitty and uninspired but in the same breath I don't feel like I'm being sustaining or inspiring with my blog because I don't always write so truthfully out of fear. Plus a lot of the time it feels like you put yourself out there and nobody can even be arsed to comment!! Then I wonder why I blog-is it for a record of HE, memories for the peeps or because its the closest I get to actual being a writer???

    I Zoe promise to try and write more truthfully on my blog this yearand channel the "Paula"
    Much love Paula xx

  6. Ah Zoe! Lovely to hear your thoughts on this and a big fat 'me too!'. Just by being absolutely yourself, 100%, you are going to rock in 2013 Zoe, I just know it :-) much love back atcha X

  7. I tell you what Motherfunker, I fuckin love you xxx
    Yep, there is defo an unwritten rule that we must not talk about the downsides to home ed & in some ways, I have stopped blogging much about home ed cos I don't want to present it always in that light, but am not brave enough to do otherwise...and anyway, who wants to read about the kids when they can read about ME hahaha
    So yay for courage, let's get it all out in the open.
    Sometimes it sucks. For me, not quite as much as working in an office sucks, but some days it's not far off ;-)

    1. You have had mega balls this last year madam, so don't knock yourself Viv! Thanks for saying that sometimes it sucks too. Publically! By the way I fuckin' love you too X

  8. I guess, what I often miss when I read about other peoples experiences is how their learning takes place, how they get fra A to J or whatever. Yes, we "should" create a safe place for our kids, we shouldn't yell, we should always be inspiring bla bla bla, but the learning curve to get there is what I would really like to read about sometimes :)

  9. Paula my love, this post makes me feel so much better about my choices. I just know I couldn't HE for all the reasons you say. Go well with your choices.

    And as for commenting,
    I just never find writing comments v easy, like small talk. I'm better at monologues! Xxxxx

  10. Ah my lovely, I wish it were that simple to say one option is better than the other..... I wouldn't not have children just because I find them annoying sometimes any more than I would send them to school just because I don't enjoy their company every second of every day.... but there are happy trade offs for all to be had in mixing things up and changing the day-to-day scenery around, and flexi-schooling feels like an option that *could* work.... I believe the universe will work itself out and this year we will strike a better balance all round ;-) xxx

  11. I hear you Paula! I am struggling with three children under 6 and often feeling bored. But I feel like I can't complain as i will be criticised for my choices. I have still made the right choices for us but that doesn't mean it's not sometimes bloody hard work! Am remedying the boredom by moving as you know to be closer to friends and family and a thriving home ed community. So I'm excited about it all again now. I can't say we will always unschool but it is definitely what suits us now. I love our choices! Actually I did just blog something along these lines on a new blog but might just add the posts to my original blog and be done with it! Claim it as mine!
    Oh and I fucking love you too! xxx

  12. Oh Laura - if only we didn't live so flippin' far from each other! Would love to have seen more of you and now you're moving'! Be great if we can catch up in person before you move on otherwise I shall have to content myself with being your online sista - it will happen tho! I need to meet your little blondie-cakes! Loadsa love Xxx

  13. I am one of your silent readers who does not home ed. Instead as a mum of 4 (1-8yrs), I come to learn and grow in my parenting skills because I believe that children learn most of all at home - with family - even when in full-time education (and with 2 parents working full time :(). I never ever feel smug. My sister home ed's 4000 miles away from where we are, and I only wish I had half the balls you and she have to be able to do it my own way. I tell you, it is not easy leaving my babies to work in an office fulfilling other people's dreams, but I have not got the balance right yet, so do not ever stop striving to balance all the important things in your life - and that includes you and your doula aspirations. I wish you all the best in 2013.
    Vicky x

  14. 'You cannot be a light others if you're not switched on' is a mantra I say over and over to myself. It's one of the hardest things of all to balance - time. Family time, couple time, individual sibling time, home time, meal time, fun time, learning time, sleep time and most importantly some days 'ME' time.

    Trying to convey every second of our lives in blogs is a hard task to fulfil. Much goes on that is unseen, unspoken and therefore unwritten. We all get bored of our daily grind, scenery and life options. How we choose to change that is what defines us I think. Whether we sit and moan about it to a good friend, bend our partners ears, voice it on cyber paper or silence the inner me - all depends on how we cope....but you cannot bottle things up forever. My biggest bug bear about home ed is the fear factor of the 'what if's?'. I carry that encased fearling around in a small fragile glass bottle, keeping it close and hardly ever letting it out. In those posts that I do write about it - I can hear myself rambling like Mr Rochester's lost hidden half mad wife. Yet once it's out there - in the written word - I feel better, I've been able to loosen my grip a little on the glass bottle and I've reminded myself that 'Life is a game of chance, if you're not in it you can't win it'!

    Change is often good. Explore your options and choose them for you and yours alone. Don't worry about what others will think - they do not live your life with you. I do hope that 2013 brings you everything you desire and more. x

  15. I think the most important part of reading other peoples blogs, is to remember that we ALL blog the best bits. The pictures of the children looking bored/tired/miserable/cross, just don't get air space, because frankly, who wants to look back and remember all the hard times. Although I will also say, that if I am already feeling down, blogs can quite often make me feel totally useless and a complete failure!
    Home educating is a lonely and tough existence, it can be very difficult to motivate yourself to get up in the morning and supply the children with something stimulating and exciting, especially when you are dead tired, and feel like you (and they) have only just gone to bed! (Mine are also staying up way too late at the moment, and I am forcibly ejecting them from bed at 8am to try to change it!)
    It is also January, which is probably the toughest month of the year. Christmas is over, and with it went the "working towards something" feeling. The children have got into late nights and even later mornings, the days are gloomy and dark, and night arrives ridiculously quickly! Cooking meals has become as dull as ditch water after all that fun Christmassey food, and the thought of trying to return to the books fills you with horror!
    It will pass, probably if your anything like me, sometime later in February, when Spring is a whisker away, and there's something to look forward to/work towards again.
    I also find that it takes other people to remind me that I am doing enough, when I often feel like I am scraping by, acheiving sod all!
    At times like these its important to remember the reasons why you have chosen this path, (and I know they are very different between home educators), but a good reminder for me, is to sit and watch the teenagers coming out of school. I do not ever want my children to be like that.
    Looking at all the comments, it looks like you're definitely not alone anyway! Hope you feel better soon x


    I found this post really thought provoking - When I suggested a while back that i would stop mentioning on the blog that I had cried / screamed etc several people contacted me and said that my honesty was the thing they actually liked.

    Sandra Dodd made me think about though and asked me to consider if there was a pattern to bad days - I have and there was and that has been really helpful -There are lot of links on the post above - simple things like staying hydrated can be really helpful.

    For my part I think that there is a balance between blogging the bad bits and allowing yourself to be suckered ito a negative spiral.

    Totally echo the seasonal comments - january is the wrong time to resolve to do anything!

  17. This has been really helpful to me on the path to peaceful parenting

  18. Thank you all so much for your comments, links and encouragement. It means the world to me. Weirdly, my blog has had a phenomenal amount of hits in the last 24 hours, so I must be saying something that strikes a chord with lots of others. I've had a lovely lovely day today - will tell all in my next post! Thanks again dear readers for putting in a bit of yourselves here too Xxx

  19. Nah, tell it as it is :) But I'd heartily recommend reframing the worst of it with a large helping of (slightly insane) humour. When I look back at my blog I can always tell when things were really bad, because those posts are darkly comic lol. Oh, and yes it does get easier as they get older. I went through quite a long period of tedious frustration before it felt like we came out the other side. Hang in there :)

  20. Heya,
    I'm a 19 year old alternative-minded student from Europe who has no experience at all with home-schooling (but likes the idea) or the online community surrounding it... but I came to this article via a blogroll and I would just like to chip in and applaud your intent! It's never easy to recognise the ugly truth and get it out in the open, but it is so much more honest and appreciative, and can only benefit everybody in the long haul!
    What is so scary about it, after all? What is the worst that could happen? ;) Giving the so-called critics fuel to bring you (general you) down? Well, firstly, there will always be people not agreeing with your lifestyle -- that's something which cannot be avoided, unfortunately. And secondly, from the perspective of an outsider looking in, I think that you yourself would be the best qualified to point out the less-than-stellar aspects of your lifestyle. Take that chance and don't let the outside critics run away with it. If you do it yourself, you can be nuanced and honest and show them what the reality is. Because the critics could have a point. (Please keep in mind that I've never read anything about this debate before, just this blog post.) If you consistently portray your lifestyle as unicorns and rainbows, then certainly someone is going to get suspicious, because nobody's life is perfect, right? :) However if you give a realistic image, the critics will be less compelled to "set you right" and all will be happy because the reality can be accepted and openly talked about :)

    Long story short (sorry for getting a little carried away in my philosophising!), I think it's great that you endeavour to do this, and by the way I love the name of your blog, and you sound like a wonderful mother!
    This movement to clarity, honesty and truthfulness can be applied to any subject and I'm glad I found your post :)

    All the best!

  21. Wowza, thank you for taking the time to leave such a thought-provoking and lovely comment. Big cyber kiss from me to you! X