It's been one heck of a year for me. I've learned so much about myself through my running (and now biking and swimming as well). I posted a couple of weeks ago about learning lessons about myself in my running, and today I posted about an identity crisis I've been experiencing. As I experience both of these situations, attack them, make my way through them - whatever is the best description - I'm finding that I have parallel issues in my parenting/homeschooling journey.
One of the reasons I loved running so much when I started was the control I was able to have. If my schedule said that I was going to run 20 minutes in a row, I did it. The only thing that could stop me was myself. I didn't allow outside circumstances to hinder me... not rain, sleet, snow, bitterly cold weather (for GA LOL), nasty hot weather. It didn't matter! I ran. I made my goals and I met my goals. It felt great. Home educating children on the autism spectrum - or rather, home educating MY children on the autism spectrum was not that simple. I would make goals, and I wasn't able to meet them. It wasn't up to me. The outside circumstances - autism and its related issues, epilepsy and its related issues, puberty and its related issues - were beyond my control. It was horrible for a goal-oriented box-checker such as me.
But lately in running, I've been comparing myself to others around me. And it's not been a good thing. It has resulted in that same feeling that I have had with home education: yet again, I fail to measure up.
As I reflect on this problem, I find the key factor is that I'm comparing myself to others, both in home education and now in running. (I recognize this is a big problem for me in home education because I have to avoid reading certain message boards because they make me feel inadequate.) I remember reading in one of the books by my favorite running author, John "The Penguin" Bingham, that you have to accept the runner there are certain things (like your genetics) that are beyond your control.
Perhaps if I can learn this lesson in running - to accept that I am doing the best that I can do with what I have, no matter what someone else's "best" looks like - then I can apply this lesson to home education. Austin got a shirt for Christmas that says, "Whatever your 100% looks like, give it." Our 100% at the Black Pearl Academy isn't going to look like someone else's 100%, even compared to other families dealing with autism and/or epilepsy and/or puberty. We all have different stuff we're dealing with. And this is especially true when I try to compare us with folks who have NT kids, which is where I get the most discouraged.
I need to get this under control within myself, so I can help Austin get it under control. He told us on Thursday that he has no future. His words. I told him that wasn't true, that the Bible promises him a future, and a good one (Jeremiah 29:11 For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope. NLT). We were on our way to the unveiling of the art exhibit that I mentioned in this post, and Riley and Reece were talking about what they wanted to be when they grew up. They asked Austin and he replied that it didn't matter since he doesn't have a future anyway. It absolutely breaks my heart to hear him talking this way. He's comparing himself to others, to Riley for sure. Academics are incredibly hard for him. It's not his fault, and I know for a fact that he gives me his 100%! He is such a hard-working guy, and if he will keep that up, it will serve him so well in his adult life. I think that will be my biggest goal for him next year - to help him identify his own strengths, and to help him start to figure out how he can use those strengths to accomplish the future that God as in store for him.
If I'm going to be able to continue to home educate my children, I've got to stop comparing us to everyone else. The resulting feelings of inadequacy are more than I can handle. I do not think it's God trying to call us away from home education, either, though that has crossed my mind on more than one occasion. Instead, I think it's a combination of my spiritual immaturity (so frustrating after 12 years of being a Christian) that makes it hard to TRUST in the Lord like I'm supposed to, and my difficulty in properly reflecting on situations (assessing things as they truly are, not as they seem or feel).
As I begin to plan for our next school year, I hope I can keep this in the front of my mind!