reinventing myself

September 19, 2016

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It’s time for the obligatory “end of homeschooling” post.

I have to write it, right? After twenty years of homeschooling, my youngest has walked down the road to the high school bus stop, and I’m no longer a homeschooler.

I’m no longer a homeschooler, after eight years of writing a blog with a homeschooling bent.

The funny thing is, I started writing a different post here, about the new approach I’m taking with my writing project and then it suddenly occurred to me: I should probably write about the end of homeschooling.

 Oops.

There are a few reasons why this slipped my mind. For one, my upcoming column for home/school/life is about (spoiler alert) how my three kids have chosen to go to high school. So I already covered some of this moving-on territory, though not for this space.

But also, I suppose I’ve already moved on mentally.

Oh, I have my moments. When T and I rode our bikes to our last homeschool Park Day in August, the last after more than eighteen years and approximately eight hundred and fifty Thursdays, I started crying before I’d even kicked down my kickstand. I’ve had plans for every Thursday afternoon for almost two decades. You don’t end that without feeling something.

I went to that group’s Not Back to School Picnic a few weeks back and sold stacks of our homeschooling books. Made over $100 (for more books? or, oooh, to apply towards new fall boots?) But those books! Some dated all the way back to my early 90s teaching days. The sight of them splayed on a picnic table with price tags bruised my heart a little.

And the library! Going there now to get books for myself, skipping the children’s section altogether! After years of maxing out my card’s 50-book limit! The thought of not browsing there or in the teen section for some gem to tempt a kid: kills me.

And that Batman history I started reading to T in the spring. We didn’t finish it. Will we find time between school and homework to keep reading? Would he even want to?

Sigh.

I haven’t even started clearing out the “homeschooling cabinet” in our kitchen, the one my husband has been ogling ever since I claimed it when we built our house nineteen years ago. (For a wine fridge? Really?) It’s crammed with glitter, clay, glue sticks, fifty zillion pens, dozens of half-used journals, a Play-Doh fuzzy pumper that hasn’t been pumped in years, and stacks and stacks of Mr. T’s notes, drawings and ephemera that I really need to sort through and chronologize. How will I bring myself to do it?

(Good luck with that wine fridge, sweetie. The glitter is going to find its way in. Mark my words.)

But mostly I haven’t been sad. After twenty years, it feels like time to move on, you know? And the word elated is not quite strong enough to convey how excited I am to have so much time to write.

I’m reinventing myself.

I cleared off the inspiration board beside my desk, covered as it was with the same photos that had lived there for years. I’m trying a new approach with my first memoir chapter so I clipped up photos of the older two kids on our first day of homeschooling. I clipped up some exercises on theme and “writing your partner” suggested by the wonderful Kate Hopper during our River Teeth Nonfiction Conference meeting. I clipped up Rebecca Solnit’s gorgeous 10 tips for How to Be a Writer. It includes these lines:

“Listen to what makes your hair stand on end, your heart melt, and your eyes go wide, what stops you in your tracks and makes you want to live, wherever it comes from, and hope that your writing can do all those things for other people.”

Made my hair stand on end. Made my heart melt.

I realize that I need to reinvent this blog somewhat, too. I will never stop writing about homeschooling here—it’s my vocation, the one that Solnit urges us to find in tip #5. And if I’m writing a memoir on homeschooling, well, it would be nice to maintain an audience of homeschoolers. But I also need to build a writing community, so I’d like to expand the scope of this space.

I’ve done some reorganizing. Gave myself a new tagline. Got a kick out of tweaking my calling card page and dubbing myself a “homeschooling veteran.” (How else to summarize all that time in those glorious trenches?) Rewrote my about page to focus on my writing; redirected homeschoolers to a new homeschooling page, where I’ve attempted to organize eight years of posts for new folks who happen by. I hope that my work here might keep helping people. That bits of it might, every once in a while, make someone’s hair stand on end.

For several years on my blog’s birthday in July, I called readers out from lurkdom to say hello, to wish my blog a happy birthday. And, oh, how I loved hearing from everyone—longtime readers, new folks I’d never heard from, real-life friends. The last time I did it was in 2013, on Wonder Farm’s fifth birthday. The last few Julys have slipped by, and I’ve felt a little guilty about begging for comments, especially since I don’t write here as often as I used to.

But in this new place of reinventing myself, it sure would be good to hear from you. I wonder who you are: fellow homeschoolers? Fellow writers? Parents with progressive ideas about education; educators? New readers, old friends? Former classmates?

Are you my mother?

Won’t you say hello, and tell me how you found your way here? It would be good to know that I’m not alone as I clear the boards, empty the cabinets, shuffle things around and reinvent myself.

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I don’t like reading. This is what my 14-year-old says, just before he breaks my heart. But what he’s saying isn’t exactly accurate. For one, he’s saying it as a response to me bugging him about why he doesn’t read more. Which irritates him, and makes him want irritate me right back. And he knows […]

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