Wednesday, February 3, 2010


Warning: This post contains raw snarkiness. Read at your own risk.

I am a stay-at-home Mom...the female equivalent of Paleolithic Man. I am also a "homeschool" Mom...the quintessential modern geek-o-rilla. This means I belong to a rare species, one little known to the general public. Folks, I've decided it's about time to blow my cover...time for a news leak, just to let people know what we geek-o-rillas do with all that time we're spending at home.

I have five students - four high-schoolers and one 5th-grader. Here is a brief sketch of my typical school day: Shower, dress, fix breakfast. While I'm cleaning up breakfast dishes, the kids tackle morning chores - feed the horses, walk the dogs, tend the chickens, bring in wood and build up the fire (in winter), gather laundry, etc. Then, we plunge into schoolwork. My older students may do independent reading for their history or literature while I go over a math lesson with the youngest and get her started on a problem set. Then, time for math for the each of the older kids. The 5th-grader is now finished with her "homework" (ha!ha!), so we do a science lesson together while the olders work on their algebra and trigonometry. Then 5th grade grammar, and I assign a writing topic that will occupy my youngest student while I discuss Ralph Waldo Emerson or principles of the U.S. Constitution with her siblings. You're beginning to get the picture, right? This is sort of like playing "Tag - your turn!" Only Mom is always IT.

Mixed in with science and civics, we have pauses to switch over a load of laundry or to help Dad unload sacks of feed from the Farmers' Co-op. Noonish, we break long enough for lunch - I'm usually cooking while the kids are finishing up morning assignments, and I do clean-up while they fold laundry, walk the dogs again, etc. Then, back to school. Afternoons, we cover Spanish and American History. While my kids practice musical instruments, make huge creative messes, or hike back on the farm, I do any paperwork, filing, phone-calling, and household chores that need attention. Then, if I have been a very good girl, I play on the computer - Yay! That means I get to write for my blog, or work on this week's newspaper column for the Messenger, or catch up on e-mails, or maybe just doodle around on Facebook. If everyone works hard and stays focused, I get to "play" for about an hour before it's time to start supper and begin the evening routine.

Why, Dear Reader, do I feel compelled to describe my typical, not-hugely-exciting day? Because today, my phone has been ringing off the hook and it has just about driven me nuts. Do all these people think I have nothing else to do besides answer phone calls?! Of course they don't think that...I'm just being crabby. I love my job. I don't have any desire to "escape" out of my house into another world. But every job comes with its own peculiar frustrations. For me, one of the greatest frustrations is when it feels like others think....I don't have a job!

I've actually had folks ask me, "What do you DO all day? I'd be so bored if I just sat at home!" Well, if I just sat at home all day, I'd be bored, too. But I think you can tell from the above description that my work day doesn't usually involve much idle sitting! So when I have to interrupt a Spanish lesson to answer another sales call - or to tell a neighbor "No, we still aren't finished with school...please, don't call back for at least an hour" - or to instrutct a 10-year-old friend to STOP playing with her new cell phone, for the third time today - well, let's just say I get a little snarky! In conclusion, I thought I'd share a few things to consider, if you have friends who homeschool....

1.) If you have a quick message that needs to be relayed, by all means - call the house. If you want to brainstorm craft ideas for Bible school, which is still three months away - please wait until after noon to call, preferrably after 3:00. If you know you are the type who can't be on the phone for less than an hour - wait until the weekend to call. And if you have e-mail - USE IT! A good guideline is - would you be willing to call your friend Mary at work about this, or should it wait?

2.) If school is cancelled due to weather, or if your toddler can't attend daycare because of an ear infection, and you ask your homeschool friend to watch your children for you, be aware that what you are actually asking is for your friend to miss a day of her work so that you won't have to miss a day of yours. I've gladly cared for the children of friends in just such circumstances, so I'm not saying - Don't Ask! I am saying, be thoughtful. Consider the implications of what you are asking. Do circumstances truly prevent you from taking a day off to mother your own children? Would you be willing to call into the office and miss a day of work when your homeschool friend needs the favor reciprocated? Beware the attitude, "Since you don't have to work, would you mind keeping my kids today?"

3.) And please, please be patient with your homeschool friends when momentary job frustrations drive them to snarkiness.

Okay, play time is over - time to go start supper!


emily said...

You forgot to mention dropping everything for an hour every other week to listen to your daughter fall apart on the cell phone AGAIN :)

Thank you for everything.

Mary said...

I like this! I used to get frustrated by certain people assuming I didn't have anything else better to do since I was a stay-at-home mom, and I didn't even homeschool! There is always work to be done at home, and I admire you homeschool moms so much for the discipline and order you have to bring to each day (not to mention understanding calculus and trigonometry). Love you!

Camille said...

EMILY can call me WHENEVER SHE WANTS and it will never be an interruption!
Love you muchos, muchos, muchos!