We’re doing it, I said to my husband as soon as I hung up my weekly Worldschooling call last Friday.
We had been toeing the line with unschooling for months. It sounded so perfect in theory, but breaking myself from hardwired conventions was proving more challenging than I could have imagined. I was a relaxed mom. Or so I thought. But the more I tried to let go of control. The more I realized how much of a control freak I actually was.
Trust in the process.
My first thought on Saturday morning.
I took it as a good sign.
It’s Monday now. My son is watching Wild Kratts. I am standing on a yoga mat in my room writing while the rain gently falls. My daughter – who was rather unceremoniously awoken from sleep after her brother busted in the room to show us a drawing he did on his Etch-A-Sketch – is playing with a t-shirt.
We are all doing exactly what we want to do.
Not being yelled at for waking up a baby.
Or angry because it happened.
Moving on and accepting the present as it is.
And that’s what I’m learning.
Because it’s not enough to say to my son, we’re going to let you make your own decisions. We have to accept whatever those decisions are – when they are aligned with what we think is right. And when they encroach on our space. We are all equal and valuable in this household, which means being allowed to make mistakes and act on our own accord.
Because age ain’t nothing but a number.
And who is to say that I know better for him than he does.
So I stepped back. Which became a weekend full of me biting my tongue. Keeping quiet when I wanted to insert my opinion or instruction. Observing without reacting. Which as a mom is hard as shit. We are bred to think that the only way to create good human beings is by enforcing rules upon rules, that if followed will equal a responsible human being. Not realizing that within that very narrow conception, we are crippling our kids from making mistakes and taking away valuable opportunities for growth and learning. Any variance from the well-defined path of normal seen as a threat to their success. Striking fear in the heart of every parent that we are failing our children.
It’s the stuff that keeps me up at night.
And somewhere inside, I knew whatever I was doing wasn’t working.
But I didn’t know how to get there.
So the question became if A + B no longer = C then how do we raise capable humans without explicit instruction and adherence. Without me relentlessly dropping helpful tidbits of knowledge in my quest to teach my son the most right way to be.
Trust in the process.
Which somewhere along the line became, trust in myself.
Who I am as a person and what I put out into the Universe. And that just by being me, he will absorb everything he needs to be him. Because what it really comes down to are the values we hold as people and how that translates to family culture. And that energy needs to be cultivated in the world we create around our kids, not commanded from up above.
So I let go.
Not just of screen time and sugar limits. But of my attachment to the emotion that comes with releasing those parameters for my son. Enjoying watching him munch on candy while cuddling into his favorite TV show. Not chastising myself for whatever perceived damage it might be doing to him. Holding onto meaningless expectations, while secretly hoping he turns to me and asks me to read a book.
To my surprise, the world has not ended.
In fact, so much of the tension and conflict that’s been building has dissipated.
I can feel the energy flowing between all of us. With each of us being encouraged to do what we want, while checking in with each other to make sure everyones needs are being met. It’s a scheduling thing. And I get it now. It becomes, what does everyone want to do and how to achieve it rather than a clusterfuck of needs and wants being imposed from every direction with no one really feeling heard.
Dad wanted to go out to eat for breakfast. Darwin wanted to go fishing in a kayak. And me – I wanted new laundry soap and time to do a bunch of loads. We squeezed in a picnic at the splash pad and watched Phantom Menace together.
So that was our Sunday.
And today has been great. Climbing trees a little higher than I would have preferred. But perfectly amicable when I asked him to come down. A healthy breakfast. Noodles for lunch. And some candy on the couch. But who’s counting.
Obviously me, still.
But one day, maybe not.