We were scheduled to start homeschooling this week, but over the weekend Martin took a cold, sober look at our finances and said, basically, “No. Sorry, but you have to be focused on increasing your income, not taking on a project that will soak up all your time and cost a fair amount of money.”
Hard to argue with the numbers on that one. The truth is I make a lot less money writing now than I did two years ago, due to my own health issues and the market changing. I need to either get a full-time job or find new freelance clients or both to replace that income. We’ve cut our expenses back a lot but that only goes so far.
I was aware of our grim financial situation of course. I just thought I would homeschool Rio and maintain my current workload, while looking for other work. In the event that I was offered a job, I thought we could renegotiate the whole situation at that point. But I totally hear Martin’s concerns, and the need for me to really focus on getting more work quickly.
So instead of curriculum planning and browsing Ayun Halliday’s awesome round-up of educational graphic novels, I’m dusting off my resume and holding my kid while she cries. It hasn’t been an awesome couple of days. I feel really sad to be closing this door, and like it’s the first time in my life as a parent I’ve said no to a deeply held need/desire from one of my kids.
I’m not really sure how we’ll move forward.
Rio’s actually doing very well in school. She still says she doesn’t like it and wants to homeschool; she’s been eagerly awaiting the start of homeschooling. But she also talks about kids in her class by name, and about long-term projects she’s excited about at school. I think she’s started to put down roots there even if she’s not fully aware of what she’s doing. She’ll be fine.
But I think we’ll both be a little scarred by this; we were so excited to do it. I feel deeply fucked up about not having been more Responsible Adult in my decision-making earlier in the process, and just blithely deciding to homeschool and trusting that the money would work itself out. That’s unlike me in some ways and exactly like me in others, and it resulted in my kid getting jerked around about something really big. Zero mom points on this one.
I don’t really know what else to say about this. I was scared of homeschooling, worried about carrying the sole responsibility for my daughter’s education. But I was also excited about the possibilities that homeschooling would open up to her, and about being part of the tiny amazing community at Parts & Crafts. Now that we’ve decided not to do it, my legitimate worries about the process have taken a back seat to an overwhelming sense of loss. Presumably this too will fade.
I know we’ll find ways to have a good experience with the school Rio is at, and we have the option to send her to a different one next year if she chooses. There’s always the possibility that I’ll find enough freelance work I can do at home that we can start homeschooling in the future. For now, though, it’s into the job-searching mines with me.
On the plus side, I love what I do for work, and I like working. I’m excited to buff up my resume and while the thought of job hunting is a little demoralizing, the thought of having a job with new projects to sink my teeth into is pretty spiffy.
In the meantime I’m looking for ways to keep the spirit of what we’d begun going. I signed Rio up for a cooking class this winter, and bought her a historical graphic novel. We went for a bike ride together; this weekend I’m looking forward to trying out some new recipes. I wish we could spend even more of our time together, but I’m focusing on investing more creativity, energy and attention into the hours we do have. Hopefully what I can’t give her in time and alternative education right now I can make up for with love and a radical life around the edges.