I have often wondered why almost everyone who does not homeschool their children seem to think two things about me. One, that I must be saintly to want to spend all day, every day with my children, and two, that I need a break from them as often as possible in order to maintain my sanity. People worry about me, and enquire with concerned looks as to how often I am able to get away for a break from my children. I do enjoy time on my own, but it is not a pressing need that must be met on a weekly basis! People often exclaim that they could never do what I do, and often say that being with their children all day would drive them crazy! But do they react in the same way to women who work full time?
I know from experience that what I do day in and day out, is a walk in the park compared to going out to work full time. I no longer rush around packing lunches, arranging child care, making sure the washing is out before 7am, rush in the door in the evening to put on dinner and to find that by the children's bed time I haven't spent so much as ten minutes with my children. I do not need to sit up into the small hours marking exams, writing reports or planning lessons as I did when I worked as a high school English and History teacher.
Back then no one ever insisted that I needed to get away, despite the fact that as a teacher I spent most of my day with children, exactly as I do now! No one looked at me with pity or incredulity because they couldn't imagine how I could possibly manage! After six years of astounded looks, and concern for my lack of "me time" I feel for women who work full time. Do people continually question their ability to cope with the obvious demands of a forty hour week, and caring for their home and family? Do people genuinely believe that what I do as a homeschooler is so much more challenging than full time employment that it warrants all the concern and worry? Why wasn't I overwhelmed with concerns for my welfare when I was teaching other people's children all day?
There simply can be no comparison between what I do all day, and what women who work full time do during their days. I do not need to rush in the morning, I have no deadlines except for arriving at archery on time one morning a week, and Mass on a Sunday. I am able to leisurely learn with my children, enjoy their company (yes it is possible!) and keep house at the same time, whilst in my pyjamas if I feel like it!
I have lived both realities, and I know which is easier. We may have less money, but we certainly have more than enough despite one modest income. We do not go without, and excepting a small mortgage, we have no debt. So where is the need for concern? I lead a blessed life which I wish more women could share in.
The only conclusion I can come to is that many dislike children so much that the thought that someone would gladly choose to teach their children at home is incomprehensible to them. One only has to reflect on how many people put off having children so that they can "have a life" as if a full life is impossible once one is "burdened" with children.
I find it indescribably sad that people would think that choosing to be with my children each day could be anything other than what it is. An incredibly privileged and joyful experience. My children are not a burden, and I most certainly do not need a break from them!