My classical quest has truly come to feel like a physical quest to me -- you know the storybook kind with lots of hills, valleys and dark forests. This summer, I've struggled to stay on the path. There have been more than a few obstacles to overcome.
Last winter, two weeks before my fifth baby was born, we put our oldest two kids in public school. Before this event, public school was never an option. I really thought we would homeschool until all our chicks left the nest. Long after it stopped working for us, I kept chanting, "I will work HARDER!" over and over. (Have you ever read Animal Farm, by George Orwell? There was an old work horse who always said, "I will work HARDER!" whenever things went awry. Eventually he was sent to the glue factory. I've always related to this character for some disconcerting reason.)
To be perfectly honest, when my kids were home they weren't always being schooled. My long, rough bout with morning sickness caused everyone to fall far behind. At eight months pregnant, I often fell asleep during their lessons. My pre-school aged kids watched too much Netflix. I felt guilty for taking any rest during the day. It seemed the whole future of civilization depended on whether or not I could hold things together! (Indeed, a lot of homeschool moms feel this way; I've known some to crack under the pressure.) My husband came home to a frazzled wife every day. On days when we got a good bit of school work done, the house was a wreck and dinner was frozen pizza. On days when there was a nice home-cooked meal and a reasonably clean house, school didn't happen.
I'm very grateful to the homeschool movement for bringing classical self-education back into vogue. I wonder if I would be on this quest now if it were not for my homeschool connections. Part of me will always be a homeschool mom at heart. My husband and I talk frequently about the possibility of bringing our older children home in the future -- but for now we are simply taking it a year at at time.
One thing is for certain, my children's public school teachers rescued us last year. I have immense appreciation for them now. When (and if) we homeschool again, I will not do it out of fear. ("I must protect my kids from the system.") And hopefully I won't do it in a spirit of pride. ("I can do a better job than my local school teachers can.") I feel sorry for the judgmental feelings I used to have about anything public school related and I feel sad that I have been guilty of showing disappointment toward families who "gave up" and put their kids into the system in the past.
What is your life-quest teaching you?