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.