Giving Up

Maybe it is time for me to give up on writing a book.

I can relate to my great-great-grandmother-in-law, in how she must have felt before she kicked the stool out of the way and hung herself.

She had been asked to do the arrangements for a wedding – a big task, yes, but by itself not death-worthy. It was, however, the final rock to send her over the edge of a stress mountain.

I often think of that scenario when I find myself in positions of having too much to do and too little time to do it efficiently and effectively. There are demands being made of me by others who COULD be helping, compounded by the frustration I feel from the expectations of others who don’t really know me but who think I SHOULD be doing more.

The thing about people expecting me to do more is particularly irksome, but I can control it, to some degree, by avoiding contact with them.

What I am talking about is the writing of my supposed book.

I say “supposed”, because although it has been looming over my head for the past few years, it still has not materialized. I have pages of notes and a few chapter drafts, but no complete manuscript.

I am at a point where I am wondering if I should just give it up.

“You have such a talent for writing and an important story to tell,” they say.

That sounds like a compliment on the surface, but the way it lands on my ears is more like a sledge-hammer to the side of my head.

Really? More? I am supposed to do MORE?

I have seven children. That is not common or easy. Few people can I consult for advice and even fewer are willing to help.

I never set out to have a large family, but that is what happened. Whether people can accept it or not, my kids are my number one priority.

Even sitting here on my couch writing this blog entry on my laptop is a luxury, but the kids are all occupied at the moment, none of them asking me questions, none of them asking me for help, none of them trying to tell me something, and so I am taking this quiet time to write out the thoughts that have been bouncing around in my head for the past few days.

(No sooner did I finish that paragraph than one of my kids ran up to me to remind me that they left their iPad charger at someone’s house a 25 minute drive away. So I sent a text to find out if the road is decent enough to drive there to pick it up. Yeah, this time of year, where I live, snow and ice can make roads dangerous.)

And I can see someone saying I should have taken this time to work on my book instead of venting on WordPress.

No, this here is quick and mindless.

Like sudden vomiting.

Working on my book, however, requires deep thought, more akin to preparing a gourmet meal on a wood cook stove. Ingredients must be bought and measured. Careful attention must be given to the fire. And nobody can interrupt me, lest I miscalculate a measure, miss an important ingredient, or burn the results.

I deactivated my Facebook account. That thing depresses me. A huge pile of potential communicators who are supposedly friends, but most of them just want a quick fix. I can understand that, to a degree, because I myself am usually too busy to get into much depth, but still it discourages me to post a question or a thought and have very little feedback. Like, why bother? Might as well write on WordPress, where it is more to be expected that there will be little to no intercommunication.

And that leads me back to the topic of writing my supposed book. How satisfying will it be to complete a book, and not know what others are thinking or feeling when they read it?

But how can I write that book if my focus is on my children’s needs?

And with my own ability to concentrate being poor at best (two of my kids have ADHD, and two are diagnosed as being in the Autism Spectrum – surely they got some of that from me, though I have no such official diagnoses – and, yes, I did undergo testing), I can only work on a book when everyone is asleep or out.

I even built a shed in hopes I could write in it, but my kids interrupt me in there, too. The thing is, though: they need me more than the book needs to be written.

Oh yeah, and I failed to mention that my youngest three children are almost always home. We homeschool. It’s more in the direction of unschooling, but still, my point is that they aren’t away for several hours a day. And don’t try to convince me otherwise. I have long been against public schooling and so this is my choice.

And I haven’t even touched on the chronic pain with which I live. There is no cure. All I can do is suffer through it. Some days are better than others, and on those days, I get a lot more physical tasks done.

I don’t really want to hang myself, because I think of how it would affect my children. But the pressure sure becomes a lot sometimes, and where can I go to escape it?

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Unschooling Answers

I read and enjoyed this, which was written by someone I don’t think I know because I can’t even find their name on it.

http://unschoolrules.com/2013/06/how-we-deal-with-critics-of-our-radical-unschooling-lifestyle

We Are Unschoolers

We are unschoolers here.

With my older kids, we were relatively rigid, with textbooks, workbooks, lots of reading and writing, etc.

With my youngest three, it’s a whole different lifestyle. For one thing, I’m no longer with the abusive ex, who demanded that the kids get high “grades”, and if they didn’t, we all paid for it.

For another thing with my youngest three (currently aged 10, 7, and 6), I was working from home full time, getting very little sleep, and was constantly exhausted. There was no way I could squeeze in “book work”, so unschooling became very appealing as an option. (Public school isn’t something I’d ever consider. I have lots of reasons.) The more I looked into it, the more fascinating it became to me, and pretty soon I realized that was what we were doing. It was and remains a lifestyle of learning, even though I can no longer work due to fibromyalgia and other health concerns landing me on Canada Pension Disability.

As for what a typical day looks like around here…

My kids usually get up before me, around 7-8 a.m. I’ve got their computers set to come on at 9:00 a.m., so prior to then, they eat (they’re all capable of getting their own food now, yaaaay! In prior years, I fed them breakfast, of course, but I was up earlier for work, too.) They can watch TV (we don’t have cable) or movies, or just hang out together and hopefully not fight, because if they fight, Mom gets mad, and they don’t like that.

It’s hard for me to get up, as I wake up stiff and in pain most days. The kids know that, and if they need me, they’ll come up and talk to me, often just coming in for a hug, a kiss, a smile, and to share some sweet words. I’m usually out of bed between 9 and 10, and then it’s cleaning, cooking, bill-paying, phone calls, and the rest of the business of a household. If there’s a lot of mess, I get the kids involved in helping.

Once the computers come on, they’re all over Roblox, Club Penguin, Minecraft, and a few other games they enjoy. I’ve had some programs for them that are particularly education-oriented, and they’ve enjoyed them, but the games are good learning for them, too. They communicate with other players, and they extend their reading and spelling efforts in order to do so. Many times a day, I’m asked how to spell one thing or another. If it’s too many letters, I’ll write it for them in a notebook they each have.

In good weather, the kids play outside in the yard. We live sort of out in the country-ish with an acre of yard. They play on the trampoline any time of year, even sometimes when there’s snow everywhere.

My 10-year-old and 7-year-old sons are diagnosed as being in the autism spectrum. It’s not that big of a deal, as they’re high functioning, but with the diagnosis, we get some funding, so for a few hours a week, we have a behavior interventionist who comes to take them out to do things in a program designed by a behavior consultant. The boys usually go one at a time with her, but occasionally they go together.

The only “schoolish” thing we do is reading lessons, and even that is something I have not pushed too hard. With my 10-year-old, he wasn’t getting the hang of reading by the age of 8, and so I took him to get assessed because his daddy has dyslexia and we were concerned he might have it, too. The tester said that yes my son had dyslexia and that she could help him with a special reading program, and the costs would be covered by the place where we are enrolled for home-school (here in BC, Canada, that’s the rules – you just have to be enrolled somewhere, and depending on where you enroll, there is a bit of reporting to do, but not much.)

So, we did that reading program via Skype for an hour a day, and within three months, that son was fully reading. Maybe he didn’t have dyslexia after all? I don’t know, but he has no trouble sounding out even unfamiliar words now, and figuring them out by the context of what he is reading.

The reading program we did via Skype is something I can now use on my other kids, as we have the materials and the teacher’s outline. I have done a bit of it with them, plus some other reading lessons, and I’d like to do more, but my health is up and down. If I can’t get myself to work on it more, I’ll use some of the homeschool funding next year to do it the Skype way with the teacher.

I’ve read about some unschoolers not even wanting to teach their kids how to read, but as for me, I don’t feel comfortable leaving it up to them to figure it out.

Oh, and there’s math. We have a set of books called “Life Of Fred”, which are stories I read out loud, usually while snuggled up on my bed, with my kids. The stories have math lessons woven into them, but they are so entertaining, the kids don’t even consider them to be “school”. Because we usually do Life Of Fred as a bedtime story, it is another excuse for the kids to get to stay up a bit later, so I suspect they also enjoy it because of that.

Our days always end with “tucking in”. Usually, I go to each child’s bedside, but when I’m too worn out, they’ll come to my bed and tuck me in. We giggle over our inside jokes. We do some hugs, some kisses, sometimes some prayers, and we always finish with “I love you”.