the Zealot phase

When I first discovered Attachment Parenting I was so excited about finding something that meshed with my general view of Life, the Universe, and Everything. I was thrilled to find I could be passionate about the subject of parenting (I was pregnant with my first), since it was something I was going to be involved in for some time. Anyways, as a “new Disciple” I was rather fervent about it all and, looking back, I admit I probably had moments where I sounded extreme and judgemental.

And I recall one day reading a thread that spoke about the “judgementalness” (I’m sure that’s a madeup word!) and competitiveness that some felt the board was plagued with, and a woman wrote a very eloquent post about the Zealot phase, and how exciting it can be to find something that is just so powerful you want to share it with everybody. I shuddered to hear this feeling compared to Jesus Freaks (aka: rabid christians) but I’d known enough of the “newly converted” to recognize the big, fat grain of truth in her words. Seems whether it’s salvation for your soul, or your baby, the zeal of the new Disciple is universal.

Now that I’m on board with homelearning, I’m finding myself feeling the same energy and passion and drive. Right now on my MDC forum there is (yet another) discussion about homelearning. Most of us on the board are doing it. One mom of 3 who battles depression wrote about how she wants to do it, how she feels it would be best for her eldest son (school age), but she is afraid it will be too much for her. She said there is this thing in the “Depression community” where being with your kids is considered to be a huge contributing factor to depresssion. In that context, homelearning is looked upon as some kind of psychological death wish. It really irks me that the parent-child bond is treated as some sort of pathology, but at the same time I’m not surprised since that attitude still permeates our society in subtle and sometimes not-so-subtle ways. I’m guessing that what is really meant by it is that stress brings on depression and looking after children is a bloody tough job that you are usually on for 24/7. The answer isn’t “send your kids away”, but anyways, I digress…

So this mama is getting lots of sage advice from the other homelearning mamas, and of course I couldn’t help but pipe in. Frankly, schools are really little more than daycare in disguise, given that the kids really don’t learn shit, or at least nothing they couldn’t have learned faster, and with more enthusiasm, on their own given access to the right resources. Whenever there is a strike around here what is the number one complaint? Parents who don’t know what to do with their kids. Not “they aren’t learning anything!”. And the kids? They are almost universally thrilled to be out of school, unless of course they are in Grade 12 and worried about jumping through the hoops of graduation and university requirements. So let’s just be honest and admit that we, as a society, need somewhere to put our kids so we can get mama back to work, and so we have school.

The point of my rambling is this: if mama wants a break, instead of school, why not just hire a babysitter once a week, or a Mother’s Helper? And let’s not forget that the kids grow up pretty quickly. Once they are five or six many are ready to go off to the planetarium with another homelearning family, or attend a program without mama there. And voila, free time!

There was talk on the boards of moving the homelearning discussions to a separate thread, lest we make the few schooling families “feel bad”. The schooling families all said no, we love the discussion. And we are a pretty great group (I think the fact that we all meet up IRL is a bit part of that). And I realized that I had been in danger of viewing the schooling mamas as being either “unenlightened”, or just unfortunate because for whatever reason (jobs, etc) it just wasn’t an option they could make work. Or at least, of coming across that way in my posts. Luckily, I have caught myself from falling into that trap again. Because being excited and passionate about something is great, but not if it means making other people feel as though you don’t respect their choices, too.

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