An apology letter to all the parents.

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Dear parents,

Remember when I was homeschooling my kids? I loved it. And what I loved even more was posting about it. I posted pictures of amazing art projects we were working on. I posted blurbs about how much they were learning at such a young age. I blogged about how well homeschooling was working for our family, and how much I enjoyed it. I felt so strongly about homeschooling that I wondered if I’d ever feel comfortable sending my children to public school. I wanted them to be the best versions of themselves, and I was determined to make that happen.

Then, I got divorced. I moved halfway around the world, had to put my kids in public school, and had to get a job (my first since college). The first day that I dropped them off at school, I walked out of the building feeling confused about how I was supposed to spend my time for the next seven hours. It had been years since I had a full day to myself.

Fast-forward to a year later, and my kids love going to school. I honestly don’t know how I had the patience and energy to homeschool them. I love dropping them off at school and going to work. I like having time for myself that allows me to work on my career, and the person I want to be. This life that is so different from what I thought I’d have, is a life that makes me really happy.

So, last night, when I found myself feeling like a bad mother after scrolling through Instagram and Facebook, I had an epiphany. In my attempt to prove to myself, my ex-husband, and the world, that being a stay-at-home-mother was not a waste of time or talent, I professionalized motherhood. I blogged about it. I posted pictures of how good I was at it. I clung to the idea that I was doing it right because if that was true, I might not feel so unfulfilled at times about being at home 24/7. I poured myself into my children so that I’d have something to pour myself into.

I wouldn’t take back those years. I intimately knew my children, profoundly influenced what they learned and how they learned it, and made a lot of memories that I’ll cherish my entire life. What I would take back, however, is how I might have made other parents feel. I needed recognition for what I was doing; I needed someone to tell me that I was doing a good job, that I was making the “right” decisions, and that I had a purpose. So I posted. And posted. And posted. “Look at what amazing children these are” was the theme of the posts, “and I have made them this way” was the unspoken sentiment.

I now know how other parents might have felt, because I felt the same way last night. I felt guilt that I enjoy spending time away from my children. I felt guilt that I don’t know every moment of their day. I felt guilt that I have my own personal goals that I’m working toward, which don’t involve my children in any way. I felt that pang of “I’m not doing it right.” Going back to the theme that the more I learn, the less I know, I’ve realized that there isn’t a “right” way. My kids appear just as happy and healthy as they were two years ago, when their parents were married and they spent all day at home with mom.

So I offer an apology to all the parents who weren’t able to stay at home with their kids, who couldn’t imagine homeschooling, or frankly, enjoyed having their kids in school. If I made you feel less of a parent, I realize now that it was because I needed to feel better about my own decisions. Doing things the right way isn’t dependent on following a prescribed path. It’s dependent on following your heart. We all do the best we can, and for our kids, I think that’s enough.

Sincerely,

Kimberly

4 thoughts on “An apology letter to all the parents.

  1. Joan says:

    Kimberly, I think this is very insightful and honest, thanks for writing it. When thinking about the push and pull between work/independent interests vs. being a good mom, I think about this: when my kids are grown and are parents themselves, would I want them to pack away all their own interests and needs and focus just on their kids? And of course, the answer is ‘no.’ I spend a lot of resources to ensure they get to try new things and practice things that they love. Because it’s good for kids to push their boundaries and gain skills and make progress, right? If I expect them to do that, why do I get let off the hook? So, while I’m sitting safely on the sidelines at swim practice and skating lessons, I only watch them part of the time–and use the rest of their practice time to work on my novel–something scary I want to get better at.

    • kimberlyrmathis@gmail.com says:

      Thank you so much for this comment, Joan. I feel the same way. I don’t want my children to pack away parts of themselves and focus solely on their kids, so if I’d give that advice to them, I should listen to it as well.

  2. NIkki says:

    You do have amazing children, and you did and do amazing things with them. You blogged because that was where you were and what you, and your friends and extended family wanted to keep in touch half way around the world.

    As a parent who read it all, please do not apologize to me for doing what your family needed you to do during that season. My family is different and needs different things during our season of young children, and I get that.

    “Doing things the right way isn’t dependent on following a prescribed path. It’s dependent on following your heart. We all do the best we can, and for our kids, I think that’s enough.” – YES!!! A thousand times Yes!

    • kimberlyrmathis@gmail.com says:

      Nikki,

      I didn’t feel the need to apologize for homeschooling, or being a stay-at-home-mom, but I did feel the need to apologize for all the posts which I know were done with a sense of “tell me how good a job I’m doing.” I can’t help but think there were some moms who felt guilty or “not good enough” as a result.

      Thanks for the comment!

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