August of 2011. Billy was working at a church in Denver (a 55 minute commute) whose leaders were, shall we say, more than a little annoyed by the fact that after several months of being there, we were STILL living in the Springs. Weighing back and forth the cost of moving to a new city or losing our job, we reluctantly did the most responsible thing - we pulled all of our kids from the Charter School we loved, and prepared to move. Even then, we weren't "sure" about the move per say (not even an ounce of sure), but this was our way of saying to ourselves that we WOULD indeed -- even though we were dragging our feet, refusing to put a For Sale sign in our actual yard, really didn't want too, and might burst into tears at any moment over the very thought of it --
2 months later, the insanity of committing to this particular ministry team became crystal clear and after the move fell through we regretted our decision to pull our kids and, well, we wanted back into The Classical Academy. We had been attending the school for 10 years and by this time it had grown famous for the shear length of the wait list. 5,000 and counting.
Thanks to our newly acquired "priority status", our highschooler and kindergartner made it right back in. Our middle schoolers however did not. They are currently #4 and #12 on the TCA Full-Time Waiting List respectively. So, what to do with them in the meantime?
Last school year, we participated in TCA's Cottage School - which means, Ben and Victoria met with a TCA teacher for initial instruction and then homeschooled for the remainder of the week. No, it wasn't the rich educational experience I imagined, but we learned a lot about parenting Ben and Victoria -- we were close as a family, everyone pointed in the right trajectory -- so I deemed it a SuCcEsS.
As summer came, and my music business grew more demanding, I started to sense that we probably needed to make a change -- how was I going to do MORE and keep my head from exploding? When I looked at our 2012 - 2013 schedule, well, let's just say, it made my knees buckle.
I didn't feel any sense of direction and my "Lord, help! Wisdom, please!" prayers were growing more desperate - daily. Not knowing what to do, I did what any good homeschooling mom would do -- I ordered more curriculum.
As the 2012 school year began, and our business REALLY began to grow, I found myself crawling out of the starting gate. NEWS FLASH: YOU CAN'T HOMESCHOOL WHEN YOU WORK A FULL-TIME JOB. There, I said it. And that's because, HOMESCHOOLING IS A FULL TIME JOB.
As business grew, and the bickering between Ben and Victoria grew -- so did my angst. August and September unfolded, and I found I could hardly catch my breath. I'm an introverted person. I need moments of alone time to process my thoughts. At this point, I'd gone 13 months without such a moment. Literally I felt like my crazy brain was spinning out of control in my head and about to melt and run out my ears. I was forgetting things, not sleeping and certainly didn't have even an hour to put towards ANY meaningful relationship.
Constantly torn. If I was dedicating my brain at the moment to Ben and Victoria -- it could just be a moment -- because the next lesson to teach would arrive any second. If I was teaching a piano lesson, you better believe I felt guilty that I had left Victoria to figure out her math lesson all by herself. See the NEWS FLASH above.
I organized, and reorganized. Planned and rePlanned. For work alone, I was teaching 35 DIFFERENT lesson plans a month, not counting private lessons, teacher training, parent times training, and communication with parents and prospective clients. Lest you think that's a lot, I was also teaching LATIN, LOGIC, MATH, LITERATURE, GRAMMAR, and doing HISTORY AND SCIENCE with Ben and Victoria. It exhausted me and I couldn't catch up.
As Billy and I talked through this past month, we knew we had to make a change. But what? Really, we knew what...we just didn't like that option. The neighborhood school.
Colorado public schools rank high in the nation. Still. I just didn't want too. Do. That. At. All.
I launched an email campaign to beg, bribe and bully TCA to do what I wanted them to. But, they. Didn't. Budge. Insanity on their part.
Finally -- after I felt there was NO OTHER CHOICE -- AND after one SOLID week of crying my eyeballs out -- I called the school district...who promptly passed the buck and told me to call my neighborhood school's guidance counselor. I did need some guidance, that was for darn certain!?!?!?
She answered. I sighed. Loudly...figuring she might as well get to know my annoyed side right off the bat. "Hi Jessica, I am interested in the possibility of my 6th and 7th graders going to DCC. The district told me that there were some nuances involved in the timing. They named you as the expert (insert a slight sarcastic tone for which I could not help myself) for me to talk to." You could almost hear the smile on her face, "Mrs. Ramsdell, the timing is up to you. Just do what you think is in the best interest of your family -- because in actuality -- YOU are the expert on that". I liked her right away.
Yesterday, the kids went in and TESTED for math and language arts placements...at my request.
Monday, we all meet with the counselor to get there schedules, lockers, etc.
In the middle, somewhere between 2 basketball practices, 3 basketball games, buying groceries and going to church (all with one car) -- we have to engage in "school supply shopping trip ROUND TWO for 2012" and well -- because my kids have worn khaki pants and collared shirts to school since...Kindergarten...I suppose they are going to need some new digs. Fair enough.
Tuesday -- along with our Titans hoodies, we will pull on our "THUNDERware" and join the drop off at DCC.
Ben and Victoria are in high spirits. They've moved on and don't seem to require any "closure". I, however, thought I was gonna cry all day. I almost did. Then, I reminded myself that on Tuesday, I would get 2 entire hours of quiet time in the house to myself. Delicious.
Yes, that thought is followed by a pang of mommy guilt...and a one sided, guilt ridden negative conversation in my head. It goes something like...there are many emotionally sturdy, quality time/acts of service loving women pulling off homeschooling large families...and seemingly doing it with joy, deep contentment and satisfaction! (Insert feelings of envy). They work harder than you do. They are rich. They don't need to send ALL THOSE KIDS to college. They save money because they can sew their own clothes. Why don't you sew? You'd have more hours in your day if you'd only get up at 4am. Why do you require sleep? They are more organized. More savings savy. More. More. More.
Lest you feel I need therapy, my other side usually answers, "Whatever".
Our decision to put Ben and Victoria in a public school this week was still, for us, monumental and, of course, not without consequence for our family -- and mixed with a hopeful disappointment. Our decision was also wrought with consequence and inconvenience for some others -- classes I'd have to cancel, lessons I'd have to reschedule. I thought long and hard, LONG AND HARD, about the people I would disappoint. I don't like to quit. Certainly, I don't like to burden others. But, you don't say,"Hey! Person who is drowning! I can see the water splashing up over your head, you're choking really loud and all -- looking quiet exasperated and blue, but could you possibly wait it out 6 more weeks until Christmas break before you make any sort of change"? No. You toss'em a line, pull'em up, and let'em off the hook -- you let them catch their breath! In this case, we just had that amount of grace on ourselves.
It's all still up in the air of course...and we'll see how it goes. I'm not married to DCC. Not attached - Yet.
But, after 17 years of parenting, our decision was...necessary. Ultimately, still in the best interest of our children. Billy recently said, "We need to recharge inorder to make it through the second 1/2 of the parenting years!" The second half. Half time. Another 17 years to go...after all Eli's just in Kindergarten!
Blessings my friends!