Do You Always Believe What You Read?

I often am in awe of bloggers who have an infinite abundance of goodwill and optimism in their posts. I occasionally cross over from the food blogs and venture onto various home educating and parenting blogs. It’s like being a crack addict. Every time I cross over to the dark side, I return feeling unclean and almost defeated.

Strings of blogs exploring intensely the conscious decision-making that went into their parenting choices, which no doubt contributed to their decision to home educate. Discussions about allowing children to choose, do chores, not do chores, challenging status quo and abandoning social graces for the sake of personal growth and sense of emotional liberties.

I even occasionally end up wanting to dole out little medals to these individuals.

The truth is, we home educate because we simply couldn’t bear to do the school runs any longer. The thought of waking up early every morning to frog march little sproglettes to school on a cold Southern softie winter’s morning finally got to us. I abhorred the lovingly prepared packed lunches abandoned by the sproglettes because all their friends had jam sandwiches and Monster crisps – NOT fusilli with pesto, shavings of parmesan, pine nuts and cherry tomatoes. I hated having to spend the little time I had left with them after school trying desperately to help them complete their mundane homework.

Above and beyond all that, having a teacher tell me that I need to get my daughter (who had beautiful handwriting) to hold her pen in a different way because she simply wasn’t keeping up made me question just what exactly they were trying to achieve.

We have been home educating for 8 years now. The day after I withdrew my children (then only 3 of them), I was practically stopped from stepping foot into the school building. The secretary hurriedly handed me a letter from the head teacher and I was, beyond a doubt the school pariah mother who dared to think that their school wasn’t good enough. They grumbled about how inconvenient it was that I was withdrawing them at that particular time of the year as it meant that the school would effectively lose the funding for 3 pupils.

I might have been not welcome on the school premises but it didn’t stop them from accepting my offer that the children could stay on the register until the desired date as long as they are not obliged to attend classes.

Slaveboy and I have always maintained that the children are a part of the family and as family members of a large family we place a lot of importance on working together and compromise. There are ground rules, and they do need to do chores or all else will crumble around them.

On the whole, I think we do pretty well. We get the occasional person wondering just how do we manage to parent 7 children, which I suppose is a rather benign question. There isn’t really an answer to that question. We just have to. There isn’t an alternative.

I do admit, there are times when we are hit with that sudden realisation of, “Oh, shit, we have quadruple booked ourselves…..”, but on the whole, we get by. They occasionally begrudge the “Give in to the younger” mantra, and Lalla refers to the 7th Wonder as an evil child once in a blue moon – normally when she is punishing Lalla for having been away overnight and insisting on poking her in the eye, but on the whole, I reckon they are pretty tight.

Earlier on in my parenting adventure, I remember a rather wise and formidable Scottish midwife tell me that ‘a childhood without stresses is neither possible nor desirable’, and I have often pondered upon this, especially during times when I feel that I am being less than fair in my parenting or when I have well and truly lost the plot.

In no way am I saying that nothing you could do would harm a child’s emotional development, but I think a very sincere, humble-pie eating “I am very sorry” can go a long way in rectifying your error. That is all.

So my blog post title asks you if you always believe what you read, especially on parenting blogs, some of which suffer from the proverbial navel gazing that makes me want to hurl chunks. I don’t want to read about what the experts say is best for my children. They don’t know my children. Neither do I want to read rose-tinted accounts of child rearing – the sort which is afforded by a hefty salary, a nanny and a house in the country and the sort of bank balance that doesn’t necessitate daily checking to make sure you haven’t gone woefully overdrawn.

What I want to read about is some mother’s account on how she soldiers on, in spite of her barely contained post natal depression and how she gets up and carries on in the light of the various slip ups she has made. Maybe an entry about how angry you get when you discover that your child has been deceitful and conniving. All these would go a long way is dispelling the myth that the majority of us are coping very well. Parenthood can be a lonely experience. We all sing about our successes, we rarely discuss the setbacks.

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