family

Why I love the teenage years…so far.

I have been dreading the teen years for so long. Everyone told me I should. They pull away, they become defiant, they smell. Okay so they do smell a little but so far I am loving the teen years and let me tell you why:

1) He is so interesting to TALK to! I mean we can have real conversations about life, politics, relationships, the future, the past.

2) He still needs me but in a different way. Yes he is growing to be a man. Deeper voice, HUGE feet, big appetite. But he still wants to touch my hair, poke me, bump me. No longer will he hold my hand for more than a couple of minutes but he still will. He reaches out for physical contact still but in a different way. He doesn’t  think I notice, but I do.

3) He is independent. He doesn’t NEED me for everything. Maybe not every mother likes this part but I do…at least with my first born. Ask me again in 12 years when my youngest reaches the teen years. But right now I am maxed out with taking care of everyone so his independence is truly freeing.

4) I notice him watching…I mean really watching. He is watching how we parent his younger siblings, he’s noticing the “tricks” we use to make things fun and realizes that we did that with him too. He is starting to see what we do differently than others and what we do the same. He is questioning everything deeper. His questions are getting more thoughtful. He is really thinking and forming his own ideas and integrating all that he sees. It keeps us on our toes and we have to look deep within and make sure what WE are doing is in alignment with our values, dreams and hopes.

5) We are starting to see the man he will become. We are seeing his values evolve. We see what drives him and makes him unique. We see a young man that is inquisitive, sometimes stubborn, thoughtful and aware.

He still has much to learn, we all have much to learn. But we see this man evolving, and are happy to be his parents. We are looking forward to the challenges ahead in terms of expanding our understanding of each other and learning to be family but also be our own individual beings.

So so far…I am loving the teen years. Don’t let them worry you. Love them like you always have. Embrace this season of life and ENJOY!

 

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It takes a village.

I have to admit, I am very fortunate. I have an extended family that supports and encourages our family decisions. Well, maybe at times, my brothers think I am nuts but other than that I am extremely blessed.Image

First my mom. My mom is nothing short of awesome. She gets me, she gets us. She is completely supportive of our unschooling ways and is there for me whenever I need her. Thank you mom. I know that many families do not have this support. I feel for you. Doing things that are unconventional, things that are against the grain takes guts. It takes more guts if you do not have a great support system. Unfortunately, my mom lives far, far away. I miss her a lot. My sister, my friends and my husband are all great partners in this path as well.

Second, my father in law. Now this is a little shocker for me. Not only because he is ULTRA conservative but his son, my husband, is his only child. But he is awesome. His upbringing was the typical authoritative, children are to be seen and not heard brand of child rearing. Authority is to be respected and unquestioned and education is of utmost importance. So for him to be not only accepting but embracing of our “hippy”, nonconforming ways is a great relief and display of understanding. He had his own son in an ultra-strict catholic school as a Imagechild. Yes, nuns, rulers and all. So for him to support us in this lifestyle is amazing. He does ask questions, he does have concerns but he also listens. He sees the results. He sees the love and he sees the joy. He even googled unschooling, on his own, and watched the videos and came to the conclusion that this stuff is probably okay. But mainly, he is open and he is willing to learn. Even after 70 years.

Support and understanding is so helpful in this journey. It is possible to go against the grain on your own but it would be so, so, so much harder. I really just want to say thank you to those who are willing to take the ride with us. To take the road less traveled and to trust the journey and to trust the children. It is a scary adventure when you don’t follow the crowds. Out of an estimated 56 million school age children, about 1.5 million are homeschooled. Of that number, at least 100,000 are believed to be “unschooled”. That means that 2.6% of children in the US are homeschooled and only about 0.2% of children in the US are unschooled. That is not a lot. We also had our 3 babies at home and only 0.72% of babies are born at home in the US too, so I guess we start out against the grain. And we were supported in that decision as well. Image

We are VERY lucky and we realize that. I often hear stories of families who do not embrace this journey and who sabotage parents best intentions. They do it, mostly, out of love and concern and trying to remember that can be difficult. Some do it out of envy too. They see a life of less stress, more understanding, more fun and more joy. And they want that life but feel stuck and scared.

Taking the road less traveled is scary. It can be lonely and it can be risky. But it can also be amazing if you have the right people in your corner. So thank you to my support team. You know who you are and if I can help support you. I am more than happy to help.

Choose love. Choose joy.