Homeschooling & Dad- (book blog)

I am a fiercely dedicated homeschool facilitator. I see no limits in my quest to show my children the world and strive to place them in the path of learning. The job pretty much consumes me. Todd often does not accompany us on field trips and only travels with us when it is an extended trip of a month or longer, or if it involves physical exertion as in a cycling, paddling or a hiking trip. But when the children and I went to the Finger Lakes region of New York state to learn about women’s suffrage and the underground railroad, for example, Todd was more interested in his projects at home, and I let him be.

Todd makes a living multiple ways. He is a house painter, a carpenter, a blacksmith artist, and a chainsaw carver. The children and I need his income to help us create the lifestyle we have come to know and love- that of using the whole world to learn. I spend everything I make on travel and experiential learning.

Todd also manages our organic garden, extensive berry patch, orchard, and cares for the animals. We figured out long ago that we could either work to make money to buy food or consider food production as part of our job and grow and put up our own healthy organic food.

Todd is the one who grinds the cooked apples into sauce, makes the sauerkraut, pickles, and salsa, and cans and freezes much of the harvest. He has raised chickens for eggs and turkeys and grass-fed beef cows for meat. He nourishes our bodies while I nourish the children’s minds.

Todd does not view work in negative terms, compared to many individuals. He actually enjoys hard work, being of German/Swiss descent, and takes great pride and pleasure in doing it. He thrives when he works.

I used to be right by his side contributing to the gardening and homestead jobs until we became serious about home schooling. There is only so much time and energy. As I invested energy into my children’s education, it had to be taken away from someplace else.

Anyone who is married for any length of time knows about the division of labor laws in a relationship and a household. We each take on certain tasks according to our skills, gifts, interests and our time. If anyone in the couple feels the other is not pulling their weight, the mental level in your head begins to lean towards one end and the balance bubble rolls to the side. If nothing is done about it, even just talking, let alone shifting, resentment builds up.

When Todd and I have had issues, it wasn’t because someone was slacking but maybe one of us had an excess of work which resulted in feeling overwhelmed; or maybe they just missed the other’s company and wished they didn’t have to do the job alone. After all, in the early years of our marriage, we did nearly all the jobs together.

When I feel overwhelmed with home-schooling, I ask Todd, “Just math. Can’t you just help with math?” because my brain functions differently than his analytical one. He would try, but he would have to start at the beginning of the text and relearn everything he once knew many years ago before he could even begin to help them. During these times, I resorted to finding a tutor at their public school and hired them for an hour, which was enough to get them unstuck.  And likewise, when the strawberry patch is consumed by chickweed and threatens our entire harvest, I carve out time for weeding. But we have to ask for help and not assume the other can read minds.

When we first decided to home school, I assumed the bulk of the work would fall onto my shoulders, but not 95% of it. Part of the reason is my choice, because I use home schooling to provide content for magazine stories. Nearly every field trip we go on, finds its way into a story. From features like “Eight Ways to Catch Air”- where my children got to experience flying in a by-plane, glider, helicopter, ultra-light, hot air balloon etc., in the name of learning and work.

But when I got a contract with Houseboat Magazine to take a 45 foot houseboat down the Mississippi River, Todd was the one who had to learn how to steer the monster, negotiate the locks, communicate with the barge captains, avoid wing dams, read a nautical chart and keep his family safe. The responsibility kept him up at night as he reviewed instructions in his head, while the kids and I read Mark Twain’s Life on the Mississippi,” and wrote about it.

Todd is not typically visible on the home-schooling stage but plays more of a behind-the-scenes role. A role he has always played- unassuming, quiet, but extremely necessary. Todd’s added income makes it possible for the kids and I to home school, travel the world, have this amazing lifestyle. He also opens the windows and the doors and sets us free, just like he has always done in our relationship. This permission and freedom to do what you need to do in life makes all the difference in the world, in terms of success.

So although you do not see Todd’s presence on many of these pages as we negotiate through a childhood of home-schooling, it is not that he is not there. He is very much there, but usually invisible, like wind beneath our wings, he holds us up and makes it all possible.

I, on the other hand, take great pride and pleasure in dealing directly with my children. I happily take on all their challenges and emotional jobs that come with raising kids. There is always a lot of talking, explaining, sharing, in order to do the job well. Home schooling  increases these encounters two-fold. This kind of emotional work, however, makes my husband feel paralyzed. We both have our roles, we both have our skills, and we both live in different universes.

I realized how polarized we sometimes are on the eve before Bryce moved away to college his freshman year. Sierra was going into her junior year and was concerned over a health issue she was having. I was up in her bed for hours, listening, discussing, reassuring, drying her tears, and rubbing her back. Once I got her calm and ready for sleep, and ready for her move back to college the next day, I moved down to Bryce’s room.

I found him obsessively folding clothing as he readied to pack. He was nervous and scared about moving away from home tomorrow. He said he was not ready for this big step in life. I sat down on his bed and he asked me, “Mom, do you think I’ll make friends? Do you think anyone will like me?”

“Oh, sweet boy, of course.” I made him climb into bed and gave him a back rub and put him to sleep. So many of life’s moments I have gone through with my kids. I have walked right by their side through every step of their development from infants to adulthood. I have felt and experienced it all.

So after a few hours of emotional sharing with my children, on this eve of becoming an empty nester, I climb into our bed and am feeling weepy myself. I disturb my husband who has been sleeping soundlessly for hours and he announces , “You can rub my dick if you want.”

I am speechless. I have had enough rubbing for one night. Although my husband is sweet and helpful and contributes greatly, he is still a guy.  He and I function on a different plane of living. We are two different planets on our individual orbits, raising children together.

I believe this to be pretty typical behavior for any married couple. It just takes more energy and work to raise home schooled children, requiring us facilitators to invest an even larger part of ourselves -a part which may have gone into our husbands before we began home schooling.  It is a sacrifice we both must make, whether we are the primary facilitator or the support system and it calls for understanding  and humor.

20 thoughts on “Homeschooling & Dad- (book blog) Leave a comment

  1. You totally crack me up, girl. Believe me, I’m laughing, and totally without prejudice, when I say, rub the dude’s dick. I’m sure you will both enjoy it. Love you!

      1. I think it was the wine talking. I hear what you were saying, and at the same time, you had me laughing at the absurdity of the situation, which made an absurd remark seem appropriate. I’m inspired by how you meet such absurdities and remain devoted, understanding that they are just moments that should not discolor the bigger picture.

      2. a colleague (older woman) told me I should not write that comment. She said, “Say your husband wanted to make love.” I said, “No, that’s not how it was.” Todd is not an ignorant jerk- he’s a typical male. Altho it sounds absurd, it is not far from the truth for ALL women at one time or another. We love you boys, but you are boys. As the saying goes, “All men are animals. Some just make better pets.”

      3. can you hear the chuckling from Puerto Varas? Ernie makes a good point. It would take a very securely self-assured man ( which I’m guessing Todd is ), who also trusts his wife’s love and respect for him, to not become offended by your disclosure of his obviously private comment. But I’m even more amused by your reference to a true statement that you share that I definitely believe should not be released to the public – “We love you boys, but you are boys. As the saying goes, “All men are animals. Some just make better pets.” 🙂 This kind of honesty to could lead to all kinds of traumatic reality checks flying back forth across the sex barriers. Careful not to open Pandora’s box, eh? I would not have been this honest even though no one reads my stuff anyhow. But that is the “you” that I am learning to appreciate through your books, articles and blog. Still, it would be my sense that an author needs to walk with sensitive caution along the high wire strung between inspiration and over exposure related to actual people ( especially friends and family). Falling to the wrong side could create harmful collateral damage.

        Thanks for the blog. I gather that, like John Muir, it’s hard for you to stay in one place long enough to write these pieces.

  2. Cindy, this blog reminded a bit of Molly Bloom’s soliloquy from the mind of James Joyce. I loved it and was driven to finish reading it by the engaging content, pace, style and frankness that is typical of your written voice. Cool. Then again, I’m a multif-faceted Sicilian guy. I get the rubbing question but also have a strong notion of being a mother hen after being very involved with the emotional and educational side of child rearing for my two sons. I guess the most insightful line for me as a happily married man comes with the guidance on behavior adjustment in a marriage (after living through an unsuccessful one). “We each take on certain tasks according to our skills, gifts, interests and our time.” To which I would add, “and, to love each other in a way that is thankful to God for the blessing of every day to share, come rain or come shine as part of His eternal dance.” I am looking forward to meeting Todd some day and going for a walk with all of you in the forest with Teri.

    1. I can’t wait to have you both here too- it will be wonderful to reconnect again- and connect for the first time, some of us! Thank you for the comment- nothing like a guy who can GET both sides- you are a renaissance man, my boy and very rare! Tell Teri she is lucky!

  3. You belittle your husband’s sexuality on Facebook……. astounding! On FACEBOOK. Then nothing but kudos from everyone who comments…..amazing! We need friends to support us it’s true but they should also tell us when we’re being condescending. Just sayin’ …. Ernie

    1. wow- thanks Ernie for your reply- I did not mean to be condescending- i thought it was amusing actually- when it happened and now- the difference between moms and dads is a reality- no one is belittling you guys, just calling a spade a spade- we women have our stuff too- and we ought to be able to be big girls and laugh at ourselves too- life does not need to be that serious.

  4. This is such a great piece, and a classic!

    I’ve enjoyed reading your work for over 25 years and this piece is an example of why I LOVE your writing. Your writing voice is true-to-yourself, honest, forthright– sometimes with an unpredictable jolt! 🙂

    I think this is a beautiful tribute to Todd . “He also opens the windows and the doors and sets us free, just like he has always done in our relationship. ….like wind beneath our wings, he holds us up and makes it all possible.”
    Yet, you are honest about the emotional exhaustion that takes a toll on yourself and most of us wives/mothers.

    I think you said it best…
    “He and I function on a different plane of living. We are two different planets on our individual orbits, raising children together. …it calls for understanding and humor.”

    As a wife and mother coming up on my 30th year of marriage, this piece truly resonates with me. ( And I am sure, with many other women!)

    1. oh thank you- what a big difference than what the men have been sharing here- sometimes i wonder if i am way off in my thinking- but regardless, it is still how i really feel- i think they need to know- we need to know how they feel- we should all stop pretending we have it figured out because we don’t, esp if we don’t talk and we don’t share. i don’t know why everyone wants it to be all pretty and orderly- humanity is not- it is chaotic and gorgeous at the same time and thank God for it.

      1. Cindy, I have never found your writing, you, to be “way off” in your thinking. Actually, I have found you are one of the few writers who has always, and especially now in your book blog, speaks “my language”.
        Thank you for sharing your writing on this blog. Your reflections and observations are beautiful and honest.

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