What Led a Career Woman to Chicken IN and Homeschool?
Fall of 2015 and six weeks into my daughter’s first grade year I took the first leap of faith on my Chickening IN journey. I became a homeschool mom. If you had asked me six weeks earlier about homeschooling I would have responded, “no way!” Due to a lack of knowledge, I thought homeschooling was for “those moms.” You know them, those who are more patient, smarter and a lot like Little House on the Prairie. Nothing like me. I am a career mom with two daughter’s who have already graduated from high school. My oldest from public school and my middle child from private Christian school. In public school, my oldest struggled with bullies. That is why my middle daughter went to private school for 10th-12th grade. There was no other option but for my youngest daughter, Hope, to attend private Christian school too. Homeschool never entered my mind.
Career Mom Must Go Back to Work
After a 5 month maternity leave my husband and I hired a nanny to come to our home. That’s what most career moms with infants do. It was the second best option…of course to me! Mostly working from home, I had the opportunity to oversee the nanny and visit with Hope. It seemed like the perfect scenario but it still came with deep emotional challenges as Hope and I longed to be together. At age 3, Hope entered preschool and separation anxiety started to grow…in fact the older she got the worse the separation anxiety got.
Guilt Ridden, Always Feeling Like I Had Choose
Personally for me, my God given desire to be the primary caretaker of my daughter was being ignored and shoved down deep. Trying to balance work and family was overwhelming. I felt like I was compromising my values by daily choosing either to be a good employee or be a good mom. Hope would get sick every other week. So you can imagine the phone calls to my boss…”My daughter is sick again, I can’t make the meeting.” Feeling constantly defeated, I soldiered on trying to make it all work. Smiling on the outside but unsettled and anxious on the inside.
Not All Kids Thrive in Traditional School
Hope had a need to be with me too, and no matter how sweet the teacher, she demanded her mom (although there is debate about her 1st grade teacher’s not-so-warm and fuzzy demeanor). She didn’t want to learn the traditional way by going to school. She didn’t enjoy the school environment like most kids. Hope thrived in the home with her family. The constant tension was wearing both of us down. We managed through preschool and even kindergarten but come first grade life exploded into utter chaos. I assumed as Hope got older the separation anxiety would get better thinking most kids out grow this. I couldn’t have been more wrong.
The First 6 weeks of 1st Grade Were Awful!
Hope cried, begged and pleaded not to go. Believing it would take her two weeks to adjust, I kept taking her to school. However, it never got better; it got worse. Hope refused to go into the classroom (mind you she is a complaint child). She did what I call the “Spider Man” by hoisting her arms and legs out and holding onto the classroom door. Literally, I had to push and her teacher had to pull to get Hope in the door of the class. It continued to escalate from there. Hope would throw up on the way to school, have nightmares, and she broke out in hives (which required a visit to the ER!). Never…ever…had I seen this kind of anxiety in a six year old child.
With Due Diligence, I Investigated
Wondering if there was any abuse and/or bullying taking place, I investigated the teacher, the classroom and the students. I talked with teachers, parents and a psychologist. Other then discovering Hope’s teacher lacked a “warm and fuzzy side” I couldn’t find a glaring reason for Hope’s severe reaction to school. We could not continue like this….life in utter chaos. What was the solution to this problem? I considered changing her classroom but my intuition told me that would not solve the problem. Public school…not an option! If a loving christian school wasn’t working, public school would take us 10 steps backwards. The next logical solution was homeschool…did I just say that? Seriously…me a career mom homeschooling??
Could Homeschooling Be the Solution?
Unsure of the details and logistics of homeschooling, I saw value in having her at home. This would reconcile the tension and the longing both of us had in our hearts. Seeking God for wisdom, answers came in unsolicited ways. I learned of a homeschool network nearby and I met other moms that mentored me through the decision making process. I read and learned about homeschooling. But, ultimately the decision to jump into homeschooling came down to a gut feeling. So six weeks from the start of first grade, my husband and I made the bold choice to withdraw Hope from private school.
It was a Surreal Moment, Leaving Campus After Talking with the Principle and Withdrawing Hope
Empowerment and fear both flooded my body. This was a Chickening IN moment! Following my gut instinct. Grabbing fear by the hand, marching forward with courage. Not knowing all the answers but honoring what was best for Hope and what was best for me. Hope is now in second grade and I have never looked back. Never in a million years would I have believed I would be a homeschool mom! I don’t know if I am all that patient, or even smart. I am certainly not Little House on the Prairie (nothing against Little House on the Prairie; I love that show!) but I am happy. Hope is happy. Chickening IN changed our lives!