We started the 2015-2016 school year this week. With Austin's graduation this past spring, the Black Pearl Academy has now become an exclusive All-Girls' School! It was so weird to take the First Day of School pictures and not include Austin. But he has worked hard these last 13 years and he has completed his journey! Now he moves on to the world of adulthood, and his sisters are quickly following in his footsteps.
We took Monday off because it was the first day of public school and that is "Not Back to School Day" for us and has been since that very first day in 2002! Tuesday we began our lessons, and Riley started back to her dance classes. We had a few appointments to fit in for everyone this week but we worked Tuesday-Friday and then we were done for the week. With a few exceptions, everything that I wanted to get done this week we were able to get done.
Friday afternoon rolled around and I realized something: I had not cried one time this whole week!
Does that surprise you? Have I ever mentioned that I have cried at least once during the first week of school every single year? We are up to 14 "first weeks of school" and for the first time ever I didn't cry!
I simply had NO IDEA how hard it's been on me to homeschool Austin all these years. It wasn't his fault! Please do not get me wrong! It's the nature of his cognitive disorder and the seizures that affect his frontal lobe and the autism. Austin has always worked very hard and done his very, very best! I am very blessed that he is the kind of kid that he is - and very fortunate. I can only imagine how many more tears would have been shed if he had also been resistant to learning.
But what I am realizing for myself is how much stress I have been living under all these years. For the first few years, until he was diagnosed, I assumed the problem orginated in my teaching or the curriculum I was using. After that, I fretted over his future job and college prospects. And in more recent years, I lamented that he had to deal with this frustration, especially when his baby sister would ask if she could give Austin the answer to the question I was asking him. :(
So many tears. So much anxiety and so much stress. No wonder I haven't enjoyed homeschooling.
And it didn't stop there. All the time I had to spend one-on-one with Austin meant there was less time to work with the girls in the same way. I was always rushing around trying to give everyone time and I never had enough of it. I was always having to tell Reece to "wait just a minute" until I was done with Austin. Most of the time I was able to get everything done. But it took a toll that I'm not sure I realized until this week when I no longer had to do it. After all, it has always been this way... I didn't know any different!
This week, I not only didn't cry once - but I also had mental and emotional energy left to make dinner (the one night I was home at dinner time LOL) and to do my housework! I can't tell you the last time I didn't feel utterly drained and completely spent at the end of a day of homeschooling.
I think I'm finally seeing why people actually LIKE homeschooling and why they would WANT to do it! I have been feeling like I HAD to because God called me to do it and my special needs kids needed it.
I guess my point in sharing this is to let you know that if you're teaching a child with special needs and you're feeling stressed out and like it's not very much fun - you're right! You ARE stressed out and it's NOT very much fun. I encourage you to try to find the joy and happiness in what you're doing and not cause yourself so much stress. With all of the mistakes I have made with Austin, he has turned out to be a really kind, responsible, and mature young adult. Will he go to college? No. Will he live independently? If he can make enough money in a job, he has the ability to live on his own for sure. Does it matter? Only as much as he's wants to be like everyone else and be independent. Did putting myself under so much stress all the time change anything? No.
Was it worth it? Yes. I just wish I had not worked myself up so much. I wish I had allowed myself to enjoy it more. I'm going to make a point to do that for the remaining 5 years I have left to homeschool my girls! :)