with Mir Kamin
I'm a freelance writer and mother of two working from home, which theoretically means I can set my own schedule so as to best accommodate my family. In reality, "flexible hours" often equals "working too much." Yes, I'm my own boss; no, that doesn't mean life is easy. It's hard to leave the office when you live there. But I love what I do and feel very lucky. And not just because I get paid to work in my pajamas.
To learn more about Mir, check out her profile on Work It, Mom! or visit her blog at http://www.wouldashoulda.com/
About four years ago I decided it was time to make a go of freelancing full-time, and I have worked hard since then to make my dream a reality. In just about every respect—if I do say so myself, heh—I think mine is a success story. At this point I enjoy a steady income, fulfilling work, a flexible schedule, and the satisfaction of knowing I made it all happen.
Which is why I am really struggling right now.
I am a product of public schools. I believe in public schools; not just because they’re the route I took, but because I think the principles behind them are good ones and that there are laws in place which should, theoretically, make them a viable path to success for everyone. My children attend public school. But I am currently somewhere I never expected to be: I am considering homeschooling.
I don’t want to homeschool. I don’t think I’m a particularly good teacher. It requires a time commitment I’m not sure how I’d make, and I think good teaching brings a passion to the table which I simply don’t have.
But my son is struggling and the school is, I feel, talking out of both sides of its mouth. On the one hand, they give me all of the paperwork designed to assure me that my son is entitled to help, that it is actually against the law for them to do quite a bit of what they’re doing, and that it is incumbent upon them to make things better for him. On the other hand, they’re on a budget, and what he needs is expensive. So we’ve already been told that there will be excuses as to why that’s not really what he needs, and he’ll be fine without it.
So I’m gearing up to take on the school, but I’m not stupid. There are two options here: Get what we need from the school, or homeschool. The former may require lawyers, and money, and a lot of time. Time during which things are hard for my kid. Time during which I fear for his safety, not to mention his emotional well-being. The latter option… well, it keeps him safe. And may be easier in the long run.
My preference is for accommodations at school, obviously. Because I believe in public school, and because—despite the problems he’s having—my son loves school. He loves being with his friends and he loves his teachers and he loves what they do there. I don’t want to homeschool and take that away from him.
And then down in the very bottom of good and logical reasons about what he needs from his education, as part of this decision, is the small, selfish voice that says, “What about me?”
I will do whatever my children need; that’s a given. I consider it my privilege and honor, as their mom.
But if we start homeschooling, can I really continue working full-time? Because that’s what I’m doing, right now. I work full-time or more than full-time. And can I really expect to maintain that and take full responsibility for my child’s education?
I don’t think I can. And that scares me, badly. What will it mean for our family finances? What will it mean for my clients—how would I pick and choose where to cut back? What will it mean for my career trajectory? What will it mean for my sense of self, built so heavily, now, on my work?
I am preoccupied with options, these days. If we homeschool, there are lots of great online curricula where he could do a lot of his work on the computer (while I work on mine). If we homeschool, we have a local university where I could likely find students in education who could be hired to come do tutoring sessions. If we homeschool, there are umbrella schools and enrichment programs and various other ways we can connect with others and take some of the burden off of me.
And there are people who homeschool and work; I know this. Some balance can likely be struck. I just don’t see it happening with my current workload, and so some reorganization would be imperative.
I am worried about my kid. Constantly. But if I’m being honest, I’m also worried about me. I don’t know if I can do this, except that if I have to, I will.
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