There used to be a t-shirt on the UU bookstore website that I loved. It was a dark shirt with light lettering that read:
Oh great, another effing life lesson.
I found it hilarious in it’s simplicity. And I agree with the sentiment. Whether you believe that everything happens for a reason or that it’s all random chance I think we can all agree that sometimes we’re weary of learning these lessons. But, even if we don’t want them, ready or not life lessons will present themselves.
It’s been a little over a week since the GED program I was working for closed (sorry if you’re tired of hearing about this, it is interconnected with so much else in my life right now). In this short amount of time it became quickly apparent that I had been working too many hours. Jace, at fourteen, still needs me at home much more than I realized.
He is capable of feeding himself in my absence but he eats healthier foods when I’m here to prepare them. He’s certainly found plenty of things to keep himself busy but while I’m here he emerges from him room several times a day just to talk for a bit. Sometimes it’s just to say hi, sometimes to tell me about a project, and sometimes to have discussions and ask questions about the things on his mind. If I’m working on or watching something that catches his interest he’ll often join me. He’s expressed that he likes having me home more. That it’s fun hanging out with me. How long will this be true? Am I wasting this last bit of time that he’ll both need and want to spend a lot of time with me?*
This is not to say that I’m not going back to work; I am. But I’ll be rethinking how many hours I’m willing to take on and how many days of the week I need to be home with no plans . My old job didn’t seem overly demanding, only 18 hours a week plus commuting, but those hours were spread out over four days. And I have other responsibilities that take me away from home; activities with Kya, grocery shopping, errands for our small business, etc. With somewhere to be every week day, even if only for a few hours, it was nearly impossible to develop a rhythm to the time I had at home. I look at it now and see how glaringly obvious it is that this schedule conflicted with what I know about his needs.
I can also see that this newly established schedule, with so much time at home, isn’t good for Kya or myself. We’re both bored. We both want more time out in the world, doing things, interacting with people. This is why I laugh when people think we choose radical unschooling because it’s easy. At times it’s the polar opposite of easy and meeting everyone’s needs (mine included) feels like a juggling act that I haven’t trained properly for.
No, we definitely don’t choose this path because it’s easy, but it is forgiving. When I see that we’ve traveled a bit off course it isn’t too difficult to steer us back on track. And because I’ve always tried to be up front about it my kids are generally accepting of my human imperfection at this point. This time is no exception.
Jace tells me that he didn’t really realize how much he missed having me around either, we were both a bit blind to it while we were in it. We were able to talk about it and think about how best we can make sure everyone’s needs are being served as I go forward and look for a new job. Who knows if our plans will actually be balanced when put into practice but, as it turns out, I really am grateful for this lesson and will hopefully be more mindful of any pitfalls ahead.