This was sent to me, for sharing, by someone who understands unschooling well. She wrote it carefully so as not to be identified, so it's not about who it is. There are ideas to help anyone, at any level of unschooling, and the writing is nice.
The kids (ages 12 and 14) and I have been watching “The Goldbergs”. We all love the show and as someone who grew up in the 80’s (the show is set in the 80’s) it’s been so fun and nostalgic.
My dad has generously been doing work on our house for the last 9 days. He’s about half way done. He prefers to work without our help.
This afternoon the kids and I were watching The Goldbergs in front of the fire on the couch (that we so carefully picked out for the ultimate coziness and snugliness. It’s a corner sectional with a chaise.) We have lots of blankets and pillows and our gas fireplace throws the coziest light. I was crocheting. We had popcorn and fruit and cookies and seltzer. This is a very typical at home day for us.
Yesterday we were out all day with friends, as we will be tomorrow. This is the rhythm of our life.
When my dad came down from upstairs earlier, to the scene of pure connection and peacefulness it occurred to me he’d probably never seen a family live this way before. Not just a life without school—but a family who is so calm and loves being together so much. A dad who doesn’t need or want a man cave, but instead pops out of his home office any chance he gets to hang out with his family.
My childhood was harmful, chaotic, and dysfunctional. In all honesty it was abusive. I’m not mad at my parents anymore. I now understand that they really were doing the best they could. My parents divorced when I was in my late twenties.
The cool thing about my dad is that even though he’ll surely judge some of what he saw today as laziness and other negativity, I know he was grateful to see how much peace has come to our family. That the only lineage he knew has ended with me.
He doesn’t understand it. But I know his gratitude comes from his very core.
It occurred to me today, after he’d gone back upstairs, while I watched the clothes, furniture, music, and toys from my childhood on the screen in front of me—just how powerful learning to unschool well really is. How worthy all the work I put in is. How we have literally changed the world by starting with my own family.
I’m getting all choked up writing this.
I could go on with specifics about how it’s improved with my relationship with my parents and friends (because I’ve changed how I interact), but really, what’s amazing me in this moment is how healing this is. We talk about that often and it is so true.
I think it felt profound today because I was watching a show set in the era of the heart of my own lousy childhood, with my dad upstairs working, while I was living so peacefully and beautifully with my own family on a Wednesday afternoon.
I could be wrong about my dad appreciating the peaceful life we live. He comes from a generation and family belief system that worth only comes from working ourselves to the literal bone. Not because we need the money, but because it’s the only honorable way to live a life. He very well could be thinking that I’m raising lazy, privileged people.
And you know what? It’s okay with me if he does. I’ve done enough work to know what he thinks of me and my family has nothing to do with me and my family. It’s better for me to believe he’s deeply grateful. So I do. Because it’s more peaceful.
For anyone reading who is just starting out, you have choices. You can yell and scream that what you are doing “IS UNSCHOOLING”. You can yell and scream that “THERE IS NO ONE RIGHT WAY TO UNSCHOOL”. You can yell and scream all you want. It won’t bring you peace.
It won’t get you the cozy, beautiful life you might’ve caught a glimpse of. That takes work. Reading, watching, trying, waiting. Little by little. Over time. An ever present and arching-over-everything commitment to doing the work you need to do to get here.
Know what I love more, though? This gorgeous, beautiful, spectacular, happy world I live in.
I didn’t have it when I was a kid—though I always wanted it with my whole self—but I have it now. Even better, my kids have it now. There’s nothing in this world I’d ever want more.
If you read through this quickly, consider reading it again, slowly. Maybe aloud, even if only to yourself. Maybe tomorrow. It has jewels.
I can't thank and credit the mom in public, but I will do so on the side for all of you. :-)