The other day, I posted the following words on my Facebook page:
Do you ever have times when you fall apart? You just can’t cope? You question everything you’re doing? I felt like this last week. You see, we’re not a perfect family. In particular, I’m far from the perfect mother I’d like to be. I’ve wondered if I’m on the wrong pathway. What if I’m leading others astray by sharing my stories?
Yes, I’ve had a difficult time recently. There have been too many problems for my soft mother’s heart to deal with. I’ve wondered: Why do my kids have problems? Have I failed in my parenting? Or is it unschooling that has let them down? Perhaps I’m just not a good unschooling mother?
Whatever the reason, I decided I could no longer write about unschooling. How can I expect other parents to follow my poor unschooling example? I felt like an unschooling imposter. And so I wanted to delete everything I’ve ever created. Remove all evidence of me, my family and my unschooling stories from the Internet.
But when the time arrived to press ‘delete blog’, I couldn’t quite bring myself to do it. Instead, I found a plugin that would allow me to make my blog private. But even then, I hesitated. I didn’t end up activating it. I decided to think about things for a while.
While I was thinking, a number of unschooling blog articles appeared in my email inbox. They were articles written by younger mothers who seem to have things all worked out. Proper unschooling mothers, not imposters like me. They’re doing a fantastic job of both unschooling their kids and also spreading the unschooling message. Perhaps they’re doing things far, far better than me. Yes, that might be true.
But I also wondered: Does anyone have everything worked out perfectly? Or do we all have times when we feel like we’re failing? Maybe some people never share their low times. But does this mean they never have them?
Low times don’t mean we aren’t unschooling properly. They don’t indicate that unschooling doesn’t work. Low times, when we struggle to get through our days as we deal with various problems, are a natural part of life.
When life isn’t going as well as we’d like, we might be tempted to look around at what other people are doing. Maybe it’s time to leave unschooling. The critics are probably right. Moving on is the sensible thing to do. Except I know I could never do this.
I am an unschooler for life. Nothing will change that. Why? Because I know it’s right to respect kids, to accept them as they are, to love them unconditionally, to forgive their mistakes, to trust them. It would be wrong to grab hold of control, insist my children do what I tell them, try and turn them into the people I think they should be, withdraw my love when they make a mistake so that they learn a lesson. Even if I did all these things for a good reason – because I care and love and want only the best for my kids – it would still be wrong. I’m absolutely sure about this.
My Facebook post continued:
Yes, I’ve had a low week. But this morning, I woke up and one of the first things I thought about was how, the other day, when I wasn’t coping, when I no longer wanted to be a mother, my girls wrapped their arms around me and held me tight. They didn’t criticise and condemn me. They just loved me as I was. All the pain and hurt came flooding out with my tears. It was okay. Unconditional love. That’s what it’s all about. We don’t have to be perfect. As long as we love and forgive and help each other. And that’s what I’d like to share with you today.
It’s all very well loving each other when our days are perfect. That’s easy. But when things aren’t so good, can we continue loving each other? Can we choose not to take offence when someone treats us unfairly but instead try to understand and be forgiving? Can we pull each other up again when we fall? Can we help each other become the people we are meant to be? If we can then, even if everything is not looking and feeling as we’d like, we’ll be unschooling perfectly.
So even though I’m far from perfect, I don’t think I’m an unschooling imposter. There really isn’t any reason for me to pack up my blog and disappear. For now, I’m not going to do that. But I do feel the need to disappear from other places, prune back on what I’m doing, lighten the burden, reduce the commitment, and give myself more breathing space.
I’ll tell you more about that next time.
Images: Sometimes I feel like this burnt-out wreck of a car.
What about you? Do you ever fall apart and wonder if you’re doing something wrong? And are you grateful for the gift of unconditional love?