Friday, November 12, 2010

To Blog, Perchance to Dream

I was thinking about why I blog here. In spending all this time and effort trying to catch up on what we did since July simply by posting the photos and offering brief explanations, it occurs to me often that others may not be too terribly interested in all that. A photo blog of my children being children with no context is really not that fascinating. Why would anyone read it? Why would I write (post) it?

Naturally, there are lots of possible reasons. I use the blog as an ongoing record of what we've done. For our end-of-year assessments, I need to have some evidence that we did anything at all for the certified teacher evaluating the children's work. My step-father does those assessments and generally has a good working knowledge of Aleksander's abilities, interests, and activities, but I refer him to the blog in case he wants to skim and get a quick overview in visuals.

In a similar vein, the blog additionally serves as a bit of a scrapbook, both for our own record and for our relatives and friends far away to take a peek at our daily lives, to see how we live, to create an ambient awareness of our day-to-day.

But surely there's more to it than that? Indeed. I write this blog to tell myself a story. I post the photos to prove to myself that we do more than sit around the house, that there is learning and a life happening here. One would think that this might be obvious to me. I live this life after all. Surely I'm aware of its ins-and-outs and its highlights and downturns. And I am. I do know this in some capacity. And yet, in many ways, I must remind myself. I must remind myself for all those inevitable moments when I am plagued with self-doubt.

Being that this choice is so bizarre in America - despite its growing popularity - I must remind myself that the life looks like this, the children learn these things, do these things, inhabit and become unique little versions of themselves. Perhaps this last factor is the most fabulously apparent: that my children are truly themselves, free from an institutionalized modality that restricts, stifles, and limits their creativity.

Certainly, there are things here out in the world that help to socialize them to a way of being, that are restricting and conforming and which help them to become zombified little consumers like everyone else. We live in this world and we participate. We have computers and internet and DVDs and video games. We have the accouterments of modern life that help best program the youth for a proper American existence and economy. We buy things. We buy name-brand things. We participate quite effectively in this capitalist culture. Oh well.

Initially, I think I tried to avoid putting our participation in that culture on display, but I have since relaxed my grip a bit. I have a fear in me that it exposes my failures as a homeschooler/mother/person. I have not learned how to let it go - either the video games or the fear and belief in my own failure.

That fear in my failure is the prime motivator for having to convince myself. I do not believe it when it sits in my own head. There is a process to it. There is the slow unfolding of rewiring myself to let go of the norm - wherever it lies, be it the crunchy mama norm of restricting gaming, the APA norm of restricting screen time, the mainstream acculturated norm of using screen time to babysit or the radical unschooler norm of letting go of involvement in the matter (use this metaphor to apply equally to the timeliness of learning to read, the restrictions on what arbitrary academic skills are basic necessities, learning to ride a bike, or interest in creative projects).

So I tell the story. Some nights I look back at the blog as proof that I've done something in the last eight years (or three, rather) that benefits the children and that benefits the world. I'm beginning to think that this may not be the best use of my time and effort, however. Comparing myself to myself be it at my best or at my worst, is likely just as damaging as comparing myself to other unschooling families or other crunchy mamas or other writers or other artists or other people at all. I cannot ever measure up. My thinking always affects my perspective, my longing for the reassurance that I am an utter failure or the reassurance that I am awesome. It's like Schrodinger's Cat. I have an ache in me to prove me wrong or right. I must find a way, for me, for my children, to undo the history that says what I must be and undo the agony of being forever not good enough. I hope to tell myself with the story that it is good enough. Not perfect. Just good and whole.


mel said...


well, i've got this love-hate thing with blogging so i'm not the best judge of these things - i sway violently between loving the act of blogging and wanting to hit the delete button in some sort of existentialist fugue of 'who really gives a rat's ass'....

but what i *have* finally understood is that my/our version of unschooling is never going to look like anyone else's and even though i am plagued with many the same doubts as you....i cling desperately to the belief that i'm doing the right thing whether or not I have the photographic evidence or charming descriptors to prove it.

and because that entire comment is probably completely irrelevant, i shall end by saying that i hope you continue to post your adventures, because i find your realism in the midst of so much one-up-manship (whether intentional or not) to be highly refreshing.

*fist bump*

beedie said...

You can't give up on blogging. I've only just gotten off the bus and begun to explore blogland.

<3 Yr friend, the luddite.

PS I understand the perpetual self-doubt, and the need to find ways to vanquish it.

anna kiss said...

I'm not quitting! I'm just re-framing my thoughts. Thanks for the love and commiseration, though.

Julie said...

Very well said. I myself go back and forth and back and forth with blogging in the realm of homeschooling. Wondering wether to unpublish or not or even do it at all. I started the whole thing as sort of an online scrapbook, since I don't scrapbook physically. I always question whether or not to post certain things and wonder whether certain things belong somewhere else.

For now I've just taken a different turn and am still trying to find my footing, but for now it's working.

I like reading your blog, I think we're fairly likeminded and I relate a lot to what you post, which of course makes me feel not so alone in this radical choice of unschooling:)

Kate said...

I haven't "read" your life in a while, but noticed you posted on FB. I really connected with your statement about life is a process. I'm grateful you let your guard down with your readers and allow us to take a look at our own external/internal life expectations and feel like we are not alone :)