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Long Day’s Journey Into Sleep.

I can’t believe I’m using the title of a play written by one of the greatest American playwrites ever, but it’s been a long day, and now it’s night, and I’m too tired to come up with anything else. Sorry Eugene. Here, I’ll change ‘into night’ to ‘into sleep’ so you don’t haunt me for using your very autobiographical play for my own pithy blog.

Now that all the neighbor kids have started school, all the comments and questions from strangers about why my kids aren’t there are starting up again. I know all you people homeschooling and unschooling know what I’m talking about. I believe it’s called “Being Under the Microscope” and it makes me realize how powerful the status quo is in our society.

It might be me being tired and sensitive, or me being in the throes of PMS, or a combination of both; but I was doing fine until the ghost of Christmas Self Doubt came by today and made me wonder what the heck I’m doing with all this unschooling business. Not question if it was right for us or not…that’s an undisputed yes. But just whether I am being the best unschooling mom as possible for my kids. It’s at these moments that I love reading other blogs by other unschoolers to get a little glimpse into other families and a reality check that unschooling really comes down to my kids, not to me. “Trust them”, I hear the ghost of John Holt telling my ghost of Christmas Self doubt.

All I am saying in this book can be summed up in two words: Trust Children. Nothing could be more simple, or more difficult. Difficult because to trust children we must first learn to trust ourselves, and most of us were taught as children that we could not be trusted.
John Holt
How Children Learn (1967)

And that’s just it, isn’t it. I don’t trust myself. Not yet, anyways. I believe in myself…but trust is a place I haven’t gotten to. I came across a blog at Life Align tonight (because when one has 68768768 million things to do, what is more sensible than searching under ‘unschooling’ at technorati?) and she really hit the nail on the head.

Waiting to be told what to ‘learn’ left me feeling incapable of finding my own way, searching for external validation, rather than finding it within. Being graded, categorized, labeled and judged, in my opinion, is no way to prepare our youth to rise above judging, categorizing and labelling others.

But wait, it gets better!

Like my children, I don’t wait to be shown what to do. I do what feels right in my heart. I don’t look for happiness or validation from outside of myself. It resides and radiates from within. My life is my own, as are theirs, to direct and create on our own terms, and no one elses.

So what I’m realizing is that I’ve spent the past 9 months deschooling my kids, when really I need to deschool myself.

And so I leave the ghost of Christmas Self Doubt to battle it out with the ghost of John Holt while I drift into a (hopefully) restful night’s sleep while thinking of my favorite moments along this journey.

7 Responses

  1. Your insight and inner wisdom speak volumes, and I want to Thank You for including my blog in your writings. I can say from personal experience that it does get easier as time passes. My oldest spent two years sitting in front of the TV and on the internet…deschooling. Yes, we worry. Yes, we wonder if we should be doing more. Yes, we wonder “How much longer do they need? When will they start doing something!” Yes, we allow societal pressures to impose upon what we feel in our hearts is true. But once our children really begin to express themselves through their interests, their passions…we whatever we can to facilitate that spark and let it burn for as long as they choose to allow it. Magic happens in the eyes and hearts of free children. I applaud you for giving your children the gift of a truly authentic education.

  2. So well said, as usual.

    Any curriculum I introduce is for my own sake, I’m aware of this. It helps ME make the psychological transition from my own school experience to homeschooling.

    In the 8 months we’ve been homeschooling, the only thing my daughter has really ASKED to do is go on field trips and do projects involving arts and crafts.

    The rest of the stuff (like language and math) is purely to appease my doubt.

  3. I got haunted by the same ghost last fall.
    This year it appears that the ghost of Christmas Future has tied him up and gagged him.
    We’re sailing along freely and joyfully this year.

  4. That quote by John Holt is pretty powerful. The part about how we were taught not to trust ourselves as children really hit home for me. I, too, have been going through these doubts and have caught myself driving by websites that sell curriculum. Makes me feel like a junkie or an alcoholic driving by the ABC store after I’ve just been to an AA meeting. Dirty or something like that. Anyway, you have written an eloquent post to which I can totally relate. I am still deschooling myself.

    You know what’s funny? Not ha ha funny but ironic funny. Most of the stress centers around my oldest son who’s 8. I don’t worry about my youngest (5) at all. Why is that? Because the older one will be judged more harshly by outsiders? I don’t know, but it’s not fair to him so I have to try and get those thoughts out of my head.

    Thank you for this post!


  5. I think that’s exactly right Evie, I worry so much more about my 10 year old than I do about the 5 year old. I think it comes down to my concerns about what society will think.

    I love this post because it very much describes with absolute certainty how I, as a mother, feel about myself. Am I doing the right thing? Am I making the best choice for our children? No matter what I do that doubt is there. I suppose in a way, it will be until they’re grown. Thanks for the post Tiff. It encapsulates exactly what I feel on a daily/weekly basis.

  6. “Being graded, categorized, labeled and judged, in my opinion, is no way to prepare our youth to rise above judging, categorizing and labeling others.”

    Wow! That’s amazing. I’ll be thinking about this all week!

    I always assume when I see kids during the day that they are probably homeschooled. Especially in our crunchy (in a good way) Boulder County – hopefully you find more like-minded people than the judgemental type.

  7. Angie…thanks for writing your blog in the first place! It was a great thing to put everything in perspective.

    Sheri…I have a whole drawerful workbooks to ‘appease my doubts’. I haven’t given them to the kids, but I take them out and fondle them every so often.

    Steph…when you’re done with the ghost of christmas future, send him my way! lol

    Evie…I notice I get more stressed the higher the ‘grade’ my daughter would correspond to. Kind of like, “What if we forget to learn something and then we run out of time!”

    Sheri…as the person who shared the whole homeschooling world with me and helped me start this, I don’t think you have anything to be doubtful about! You are amazing with your kids and yourself!

    Jodi…I seem to go in streaks. Sometimes people are great, and then sometimes I get a whole slew who are nasty.

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