Sosi started going to kinder last year.
Casi was the most challenging child and he/we had a year of meltdowns.
I was badly depressed last year.
I see these 3 facts as intertwined...
Here's the tough thing about wanting to homeschool your children: the status quo. People aren't used to it, it's not a common thing, I think with the way the western world is changing (I mean the wealth of knowledge that can be easily accessed technologically) we will see more homeschooling families than we have in the past. But, at present, I still feel that most people's first thought at the mention of homeschooling is "hippy freaks" or "religious nutjobs". I am not saying that people are dismissive of homeschooling, I am just saying that this is a perception that we are still carrying from the past, I do think that (unless previously exposed to homeschooling) this would be the common man's first reaction.
So when you present the idea to your partner, and father of your children, that you feel that homeschooling would be a great viable option for the kids' education, and when you also have a long string of teachers on his side of the family, of course you do not get an immediate convert.
And for family peace, and because it's the two of you parenting and not you alone, you make some compromises, more on the lines of "let's see how we go with this and then we will reassess".
So that's how Sosi started kinder. She was going 2 days a week in a Steiner kinder, with lots of natural materials and respect for nature's rhythms and creations, lots of unorganised play (which fits in quite well with my child-led learning ideas), organic meals cooked on site (which the children would help prepare), and a wonderful respectful atmosphere throughout the whole kinder. So it wasn't all bad nor against my views, still had plenty of time at home to do her own thing.
Sosi loved it. And we started understanding her sensorial "quirks" a bit better and we started noticing new "quirks".
Remember her hearing "issues"? (here's a refresher). Well, after she passed a hearing test with flying colours, I was essentially told by the GP "she's young, it's a phase, she'll outgrow it". Well, guess what? It morphed. From simply covering her ears and freaking out with certain noises, we started noticing that auditory stimulation was causing her to find relief in overstimulating another sense, usually the sense of touch. So when too many things were happening around her (lots of kids playing, lots of noise, too many interesting things at once), she would start biting her knuckle as a stress release measure, usually to the point of making the knuckle bleed (at the end of the year she had a big callous on it). We also realised that she couldn't bear certain feelings on her skin (damp clothes, sticky hands, little things like that), and making bizarre sounds and motions when she's in her own little world and imagining stories (I really don't know how to describe it, it has to be seen...) . Which really wasn't a big deal, she had a fantastic kinder teacher and all these quirks were quite manageable.
But, on the other hand, Casi did not cope well with kinder. Despite it being only 2 days a week, he struggled with the separation from his much idolised big sister. And of course there's parent duty. I was often at kinder helping out, the program it was meant that parents were asked to chip in with cooking and washing dishes etc, since morning tea and lunch were cooked on site. And every time I helped out, and Casi was with me, he would soon meltdown: until just a few months ago, if things didn't happen in the order he was expecting or if he misinterpreted people's intentions (he often thought that people told him off), I was looking down the barrel of at least one hour of screaming and throwing himself to the ground unless I figured out what he wanted or the order in which he expected things to go. I was always so torn between my duties towards my high needs youngest child and the expectations to help out at kinder.
And then the year progresses and everyone keeps asking about school. And again, for family peace and because everybody expects us to be normal, we enrolled her in the nearby Steiner primary school which is closely affiliated with the kinder Sosi attended. Which meant many of the kids she knew from kinder (sixteen) would be attending that school.
Again, I did feel my role as an educator taken away from me, just for the convenience of not stirring the waters too much.
Then one day we were late for a friend's birthday party, and I cried and cried and cried and realised I was not ok and hadn't been in a while and I was not coping. But you push it down, deep down, trying to function and do what the world expects you to do. Until one day you wake up crying, because really you didn't want to wake up alive. You try to do stuff with the kids, but all there is is apathy. Nothing is fun any more. You stopped eating because you don't feel hunger any more. And you wake up crying the day after. And the day after that. And the one after. Waiting for bedtime. And one day you sit in an armchair and you have no will to get up. Your body is weighed down by your soul and you can't remember the last time you smiled, the last time you were really happy. Maybe it was before your friend's funeral.
After months in survival mode, and months of apathy and pretending, you realise it can't go on. The kids know things aren't good. They start pleading you to be happy. That's when you know you're in a downward spiral and you need help. But everything seems so overwhelming and you don't know where to start, who to call, what to say, what to do.
So this is what I did. On the 20th September, I stopped faking it. I got off the armchair, put a DVD on for the kids, and went to the computer to open up to my little world. And this was my fb status that day:
So, if anyone is wondering, I am not okay.
When you see me smiling, it doesn't necessarily mean I'm happy. Maybe you caught me on one of those high days when I feel invincible, or maybe you are seeing me on one of the downslope days just before I get to the dark tunnel, when I pretend nothing is wrong, and nobody hears from me in weeks, or months, until I'm back out. Sometimes I isolate myself, because I'm going through a moment where, when people ask how I am, all I'm thinking is "I want to die", but I don't tell them because I know that I'll probably be better the day after and I don't want people to know. Because I've got this thing, where I want to always seem so strong and "with it". It's got something to do with the stupid arm not having been born with me.
I am not a bad person, I just struggle with things that seem easy to others.
Some days the ugly sides of humanity and life bring me down so much that I find it difficult to pull myself out of the ditch.
I struggle with expressing my true self in a language that isn't totally my own.
I struggle sending messages because I fear being misinterpreted.
I struggle calling people because I get anxiety attacks when I pick up the phone.
I struggle answering the phone because of the same reason. And also because of my hearing.
I struggle with being in groups of people because I get frazzled and confused by all the noise.
I also struggle in groups because of my chemical sensitivity and the fact that strong smells make me either depressed or raging, and there's no easy way to tell people that their choice in chemically scented cosmetics is what is making me behave so aloofly.
I often struggle finding the right words to tell people because my brain is on a different wavelength and it takes me a few seconds to process what people really meant and by the time I get it, the moment is gone and people must think I'm dumb, and that depresses even more because I'm not stupid, I am simply wired a little differently.
I understand these things more about me now, that I have kids, when I realise that in a couple of things they are wired differently too.
Sometimes I don't know straightaway what people mean when they say something and sometimes my brain is thinking about something else and the wrong words come out, and more often than not I am not quite sure what I am meant to say.
I mean well, but dealing with other humans does not always come easy to me. Sorry if I've ever hurt you or upset you or bothered, please know I didn't mean to, and sorry if I'm not the best of friends nor the most reliable.
If you have an issue with me, be honest, let me know, I am trying to do my best at this being human business.
I don't know really why I'm writing this, I'm just tired of pretending that I'm tough. Because tomorrow I'll probably be out of it and the world will be rosy again. But really, I haven't been coping in a while, I think it's time to be honest to everybody and let you know what's going on. I'm probably just trying to reach out, I just want others to understand that things aren't always as easy as they appear.
And I posted it. I was so desperate.
So there. It was liberating. I was so tired of faking it. I learnt who the real friends were, I got some real open arms of people I could tell "I'm not doing well today". Now it's in the open, I don't have to feign happiness or fake life. And finding my inner self and my strength has been easier without the oppression of "saving face". You cop so much criticism as a mum. You get little support in this fragmented insular "modern" society. You are stigmatised if you show your mental frailty.
Last year is gone. The Mayan calendar was right. It's a new era. I'm still not 100%.
I spent months picking up the pieces. This has been a limbo year. I still have to make some choices. I know that my life will be much different in a couple of months. I'll keep you informed :)
Heaven is not a place, and it is not a time. Heaven is being perfect. -And that isn't flying a thousand miles an hour, or a million, or flying at the speed of light. Because any number is a limit, and perfection doesn't have limits. Perfect speed, my son, is being there.”― Richard Bach, Jonathan Livingston Seagull
See you soon Real Me, haven't seen you in a while...