Don't get me wrong. I'm still Catholic. I still believe in all those teachings of our Church. And obviously, I'm still a mom. And sometimes I'm still a blogger.
|Me. Catholic. Mom. Sometimes Blogger.|
Which I guess makes me a Catholic Mom Blogger, and that in the past gave me an amazing sense of community.
But by the end of 2016 I found that I felt out of place. Many of the topics that I'd blogged outspokenly (and even obnoxiously) about in the past I had (have) done a 180 on.
I have "I'm very disappointed in your wearing pants" messages to prove it.
And often I feel like I'm moving in the opposite direction, on non-Church matters, of most of my friends.
Now I'm going to take a deep breath and start typing and trust you guys. And I'm going to trust that for some of us, we can believe radically different things and still be friends. And I'm going to try to tone down the defensiveness that have developed about some of these subjects (especially the ones relating to autism) and if that seeps through I hope you'll understand.
Here we go:
I am not the same mom I was when I began this blog, know everything and wanting to share all of my advice with the world. I have happily discovered that my kids are okay eating gluten and casein. And non-organic food and sometimes hot dogs and macaroni and cheese.
I have discovered that topamax helped Maggie and I with our migraines more than any essential oil ever could.
I am politically homeless and while I'm prolife I'm also pretty passionate about the good that I believe social programs do in our nation.
I've opened a hundred blog drafts on my computer and started posts about the problems of racism and sexism that I've felt compelled to speak out about that are probably the last thing many readers want to see here, before chickening out and closing the window. Someday soon I want to be brave enough to not do that.
I don't wear a veil anymore in Mass because there were too many hands yanking it off and no matter how cleverly I sewed in the combs or selected my fabrics, they could get it off. I still think it's a lovely practice, but with a sigh I have set it aside as something that is not for me at this time in my life.
And perhaps most shocking in these parts, I'm excited when my kids are up to date on their vaccines (yes I've done my "research," no not really because talking to doctors and specialists and googling and reading other peoples studies isn't really research, at least not when we're talking about "medical research," which we usually are when vaccines are mentioned, but I have educated myself on the topic and reached the conclusion on what is best for my family), and I also enthusiastically hauled five kids in to get flu shots this year, which is something that can get you an equal number of angry and (sarcastically?) laughing faces on Facebook if you admit it these days in certain Catholic moms' groups.
Okay, I should probably apologize a tiny bit for that last part. And not just for the run on sentence, right? When you have kids with different medical needs, including kids on the spectrum you get a wide variety of people with helpful suggestions about alternative medicine and comments like "don't you wish you hadn't vaccinated now?" in your inbox and in real life and after a while it can make you a little bit... snarky... about the whole subject (For the record, no, I don't believe that's why we have a bit of neurologically diversity in our family. As I'm sure our doctors would enthusiastically tell anyone our genes play a big, big role).
|The reaction we all wish we had. Some might be wishing they can use this one after the last few paragraphs, am I right? Hang in there though.|
And now we're getting to the point of this post, that I've been warming up to. The part that some of you may even have guessed at if you follow me on Instagram, or that you know about if we're friends on Facebook. If you've hung in here this far, thanks.
If you've been a long time reader of this blog you know that from the time it began, really from the time I was pregnant with Sadie, I was adamant that I was going to homeschool, and there was never ever going to be a reason that I wasn't going to homeschool because it was always and ever going to be the Only Best Thing.
I mean, sure, I might have allowed, that there might have been other best things for other families, but not for us.
And then reality arrived, and hit me like a Mac truck and I admitted that perhaps I needed a little bit of extra help and that perhaps Maggie needed in home therapy. And she thrived. And after a few years of in home therapy she began attending a therapy center, where she made friends and had a blast.
And then Sadie asked to go to school.
So it happened that Sadie and Patch went to our parish school, and Maggie was placed in a special class room at a local public school.
For a little over a year we gave parochial school a try. And academically it was fantastic.
Academically I do not have a single complaint.
But unfortunately the school experience is not entirely based on academics. There were bullies. And one day the phone rang and I jumped when I saw that it was the school, my heart in my throat.
A list of possibilities ran through my head. My child had been shoved to the ground, in the mud and spit on. My child had been hit in the head twice (and it was repeatedly called "teasing" like "flirting"). And there was just the day in day out bullying that wouldn't stop. Sometimes it was physical, sometimes it wasn't. The days when it wasn't were nearly as bad as the days when it was.
Sometimes it was witnessed and taken seriously and sometimes it was dismissed.
The child in question loved school. They were learning and flourishing academically.
But when the phone rang that day I was so afraid of what had happened, what the call was going to say, my heart was racing and my hands trembled as I fumbled to press the button to answer the call.
It was nothing. The voice was automated. The schools phone system would be down for an hour. If we needed anything we could call the parish office. But in that moment I knew. We needed to take them out.
I called Paul. This had to stop. We couldn't go on like this. Because sooner or later it wouldn't just be an automated voice.
The next day I went to our public school and picked up applications. And a few days later the bus arrived at our house.
The kids are happier. I'm happier. We spend less time driving, less time in the car, more time as a family. We're getting to know more people in our community.
It's been a month now, a glorious month and my greatest regret is that we didn't do this sooner.
Years ago. Really I regret that it took me so long to figure out that this was what was best for our family and for our kids.
Now if the last years have taught me anything it's that best isn't static. It's that right now best is public school and that something else could be best later. That while that might feel impossible now the one thing the last decade has taught me is that in schooling choices at least to never say never, because the best thing this year for this kid may not be the best thing in five years for that kid.
We shall see.
Things used to be a lot harder.
I believed that they were harder because they were making me holier.
And sometimes suffering is the path to holiness.
But sometimes hard is just hard.
Sometimes something is hard because it isn't the right path, and you aren't meant to be miserable, and your children could actually be learning from loving, caring adults, even if those loving caring adults aren't their parents.
Sometimes the extrovert that was bored at home, no matter the program or curriculum, will come home chattering and excited and reading chapter books and with the highest math grade in the class from public school and when you mention to their teacher in passing that a year ago they could hardly read, despite the fifty seven curriculums the two of your poured over every day, she will be absolutely stunned.
Labels used to matter so much when I was writing here.
In the blogging world it seems like they still do. I mean I guess that's what that whole first section of this blog was, me figuring out who I am not compared to who I used to be, in a way that probably made some people uncomfortable, or even angry.
I guess if I was writing a blurb I would say that I'm a Catholic mom, with a gaggle of kids in public school, and a couple still at home, who likes to knit and write. But doesn't that sound silly and awkward?
I'm not about to begin to pretend that I can write something that can tear down all the divisions that we create and throw up between ourselves and others. But I'm writing this in case there's someone out there reading it who doesn't see a reflection of themselves in the other blogs that they usually read, who might see it here.
I've probably offended half of my readers with my first few paragraphs about who I'm not, which wasn't my intent. It's just that sometimes it can feel like there's a box in this little corner of the blogging world that some of us have called home and if you don't fit in that box and meet certain criteria you don't really belong.
I was just about to stop writing here when I realized that maybe, just maybe there were other people who felt the same way.
I mean you don't have to be the same, that's the whole point. Or part of the point.
And that is where I am beginning again with writing here, for now, knowing far less than I did when I started out, knowing everything.
If you're still here, welcome.