Growing Pains

When my child was little, seeing xem hit new milestones and gain more independence was bittersweet. It was a relief to have xem rely on me less and less, little by little. It brought me pride to see my little one growing up. It still does, but I’ve been feeling more sad about it lately. My “little” one doesn’t seem like the same child I once knew. It’s probably past time that I face it: My child is continuously becoming their own person. That’s part of growing up. As a parent, that is perhaps the best goal to aim for. Anything that puts strict expectations on a child to be a certain way ends up missing the mark. Too many children have grown up to feel the pain caused by their parents who tried to set limits on who they can be. Many of us have experienced that pain for ourselves. Why should we want to hurt our own kids in the same way? Isn’t it enough to raise a child with compassion for others and theirself?

I spent too much of my kid’s childhood influenced by the opinions of my in-laws. I let my mother-in-law tell me that my kid shouldn’t have colored hair or certain haircuts for too long, despite my internal disagreement with such restrictions. I was afraid to really raise my child as a Pagan, limiting myself only to telling stories until we moved an hour away. To be real, I regret some of the parenting choices that I made. Some of them were based on fear of judgement from people who I now realize don’t care as much about my family as I had thought. Once we failed to meet their expectations, the in-laws stopped trying to reach out. Go figure.

At the same time, despite my feeling like I didn’t make enough of my own decisions in my earlier years of parenting, I know that I got some things right. My wife and I stood our ground with our decision against spanking. I always gave my child a choice in what to believe in, spiritually. When he asked me if Loki or fairies are real, I told xem: “I believe they are. What about you?”. The same happened with Santa and the Tooth Fairy, although I never outright claimed to believe in those two. I even allowed my kid to go to church with my in-laws until he decided that he didn’t want to. (To be fair, that decision on their part may have been influenced by my informing xem of the flaws with that particular church’s harmful beliefs.) I always told xem that love is love and that transgender and nonbinary people are valid. When my kiddo came out as liking the same gender and then as exploring their gender identity, thank the gods I had already gotten away from the strong toxic influence of my in-laws, my wife and I embraced their identity.

I’d be lying if there wasn’t one part of my child’s current identity that I am struggling with, though. As a polytheist, knowing that my kid doesn’t share my spiritual beliefs kind of hurts. It feels almost like I did something wrong. Maybe I explained my beliefs too simplisticly. But the truth of the matter is that forcing my religion onto my child is what would be wrong. As much as I would love to have a Pagan kid, religion should always be a choice. Or, at least as much of a choice that I believe it can be. If the gods call to xem one day and he recognizes it, I will be happy and willing to offer whatever help I can. If not, that is just something that I will have to continue to accept.

These preteen years are an introduction to what I may expect the teenage years to be like. This is my only kid, though, so that statement is purely an assumption. My kid still comes to me for comfort and I hope that continues, but he also spends more time hidden away in the privacy of their room. This child is now more willing to speak their mind when he disagrees with something, but is also still learning how to regulate their emotions as all adolescents are. It’s not always easy to parent with all of that in mind, though I do try.

I don’t know yet what my kid will be like throughout their teen years or as an adult. I am expecting some stumbles and troubles – we all go through them and he won’t get to be an exception. I am also hoping for the best. Not necessarily that he be the best at anything in particular, mind you. I am hoping that my parenting allows my kid to continue to be a compassionate person, able to think for xemself, able to be self sufficient and yet unafraid to ask for help when needed.

I do miss the little one that my child used to be. But, it’s a fact of life that children can’t remain the same forever. Nor should we parents want them to.

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Learning Day By Day

When I first started thinking about homeschooling my preteen, I was under the impression that it would mean weeks (if not months) of pre-planned curriculum and hours of instruction time for my child each day. I was operating under the assumption that it would have to be a similar format as public school; which really would defeat some of the purpose of homeschool for many families. Once I actually started, it took some time, but I started to figure out what would work for us.

At the risk of sounding like a broken record, for any stumbling upon this post and interested in our background story: My child [he/ xem pronouns] was an Honor student throughout elementary in public school. During 4th and 5th grade, he began showing anxiety about going to school. It became a struggle getting xem to school, though my child continued making good grades. Meeting with the guidance counselor left us with no resolution to the problem. They were aware that my child was bored because much of the work was too easy, but never followed up on any of our discussions.

Then, everything went remote due to the pandemic. My child finished out 5th grade via distance learning with his public school teacher and graduated elementary school from home. The following school year was a disaster. We tried the self-paced virtual school option, but the (out of state) teachers offered little to no support for the work they assigned. After a few months, my child began falling behind. Then, we switched to the distance learning option with local teachers and a set schedule. All I will say now about that option, is that it ended up being an even worse experience. My child lost nearly a year of education time before I realized that public school was failing xem. He had previously requested to be homeschooled a few times and I had wished that I could. It simply didn’t feel like a realistic option. I needed that push. Thus, after some discussion with friends who homeschool and looking into the laws for my state, I decided to take the plunge and withdrew my child from the public school system.

One of my first attempts when we started homeschooling in February was with a paid online curriculum. While the concept sounds nice, I learned that it wasn’t for us. My child does not do well with self guided work and I’m simply not a fan of pre-planned curriculum. Perhaps my problem was that I was relying on it more than I should have, but I decided that I would be better off saving my money in the long run. Besides, there was a (relatively minor) issue of the curriculum’s grammar unit teaching prescriptivist ideas that left us with a sour feeling toward it. This is a progressive household and we will not stand for outdated teachings. Unschooling, while it would have likely been wonderful for my child at a younger age, was not fruitful enough to continue after an initial de-stressing period. My child needed a break, but education must go on at some point.

I’ve found, so far, that I enjoy piecing our curriculum together day by day. I’m using middle school books from the Big Fat Notebook series (BFN) as a basic guideline; alongside a combination of videos, workbooks, free worksheets, games, and other resources to assist me in teaching my child. Much of what we’ve been doing so far is review work to refresh forgotten subjects and playing catch up from all that time lost. We’re getting to the point now wherein we are working on a blend of review and catch up. Slow, but steady is what I’m aiming for. I’m trying to worry less about my child being on track per public school standards, and more about being sure he is learning before we move on to the next big thing. Eventually, I do hope to have xem back on track and ready for college or trade school by the time we get through high school. If it gets to a point wherein I no longer feel that will be feasible with homeschool, I am also aware that public school may become a necessary (though undesired) option.

Currently, our routine takes place in the evenings after I get home from work and take some time to cook dinner and/or decompress. We spend around 2 hours with school, so roughly half an hour per subject. Our days alternate between the different resources we’re using. If we read a chapter from Everything You Need To Ace Math In One Big Fat Notebook, we usually practice the examples together from the book that day as we’re reading; then follow up the next day or two with videos and answering “Check Your Knowledge” questions at the end of the BFN chapter. Other days, I have xem play games (Prodigy is a favorite for math), review with worksheets or in a workbook, or do practice questions/ quizzes online (such as on Khan Academy).

It’s mostly the same for the other subjects, as well. We do often spend more time per chapter for social studies and science than we do math or English/ Language Arts (ELA). The chapters for the former two subjects are often longer, so there’s simply more to cover. We mostly watch a few more relevant videos in leiu of review worksheets and games for these. I am also incorporating more reading and writing assignments. To start out this year, once a week, I am having my child choose an article from Dogo News to read and discuss. He will be starting cursive practice again. I want to have xem work again on a foreign language (or ASL), music, and art; but this is not an immediate goal just yet.

I always plan what we’ll be doing day by day. This prevents me from stressing out about being “on schedule” and allows us to spend extra time on a subject or move forward as needed. There are some days when I have a panicked feeling of “what do we do now?”, but there’s always room to decide.

Reflections on Homeschool

When I previously wrote about starting on a homeschool journey, I never intended for this to become a home school blog, nor did I plan to entirely forgo the subject in my posts. It makes sense that, as the traditional school year has come to an end and our assessment has been done, that I finally write on my experience. We officially started homeschooling in February of this year. Those few months were up and down. I toggled between feeling as if we barely accomplished anything at all and realizing that we’re moving along at a good pace. My child struggled with keeping interest and sometimes got to the point wherein they shut down rather than do school. They’re a preteen, so one could expect it to be a difficult age. On top of that, this past year has been one full of change due to the pandemic and other life situations. That has not made my child’s emotional state any better, nor has it allowed us much of a chance for the in-person socialization that children need.

Regardless of my fears of inadequacy, I am pleased to say that our assessment went well. A certified teacher (as required) looked over the portfolio that I had put together and saw progress in all required subjects, with no subjects needing improvement. It was a relief, as well as an encouragement. My child has been learning. As it turns out, I was unfairly judging myself, as well as the kiddo, because we hadn’t crammed a year’s worth of learning into a few months. How ridiculous of me, right? The main objective of school should be to learn, not to simply move from one thing to the next. Had we managed to cram too much in for my child to learn, then I would have failed in my goal of providing my child an education.

Those first few months were a learning experience for both of us. We had to learn what methods of teaching work best for us, how to pace ourselves, and how to communicate more effectively with each other. While teaching is an integral part of parenting, doing so in the context of homeschool can be a whole other experience. I hadn’t studied or otherwise consciously (if at all) used some of the information we covered since I was first taught it. Many of the topics were a refresher for me, and many weren’t exactly taught as accurately (if at all) when I was in school. It helps my experience with teaching my child that I enjoy learning, whether it is something I have forgotten or something completely new to me. There is no shame in not knowing everything, only in pretending that there is not always more to learn. There are teachers, even in the public school system, who cling to outdated information that is not correct or unbiased. It has been my goal to avoid being one of those teachers for my child.

Because I am not an expert in any given subject, I have taken care to choose reliable sources to assist me in teaching. I learned quickly that online websites that provide specific curriculums didn’t seem to work well for us. Some are even inaccurate sources in regards to certain topics. Thus, I purchased a few books to help build a basic framework for our home school; and incorporated educational videos from trusted sources, games, written work, discussions, and real life learning experiences. It worked pretty well. My only real issue at that point was learning not to rush through each subject. There were a few times wherein we had to revisit a topic we’d previously covered. Sometimes doing so is more important than moving on to the next thing.

Despite the frustrations that came with the learning curve of being new to homeschooling, I enjoyed it. My child wants to continue their education at home. I am less nervous now and all the more excited to continue homeschooling after our summer break.

Thoughts on the Homeschool Community

I think, when many people think of homeschooling families, there are some common stereotypes. Much of that gets supported when one looks up websites, blogs, and groups by homeschoolers. There is so much Christian material out there marketed toward homeschools, it seems to speak for itself. Homeschooling parents are often religious, Christian, specifically. If one digs a little bit deeper, one will find that homeschool groups tend to be inundated with conservative, or right-leaning, parents. Even the “crunchy” moms among homeschoolers tend to veer to the right with anti-vaccination views and a distrust of modern science. For those of us who don’t fit into any of those groups, it’s quite off-putting.

For those who have already read my past blog posts, it’s likely clear where I stand on some things. I am a polytheist Pagan and Unitarian Universalist, for crying out loud. Even though I do believe in spiritual and herbal or folk remedies, I also believe that modern medicine has it’s place. I believe in science coexisting with spirituality. I believe that liberal and left-leaning policies would improve my country. Obviously, for someone like me, the stereotypical environment of homeschooling groups is going to be awkward at best.

That said, the homeschool community is more diverse than the stereotype presents. I suspect that in groups where conservative Christians are more vocal, those of us who don’t share those views either remain silent to keep the peace or we just leave to find better fitting ones. Sometimes, the information we get from groups where members run more conservative, even if we don’t, is invaluable. One group I’m in is like this. They share a wealth of information to help parents understand the laws and requirements for homeschooling in West Virginia, but… well, it’s West Virginia. There are a lot of conservative Christians up these hollers and in that group. For help with finding online learning resources, I stick to secular groups.

I find it somewhat funny that, despite the stereotype, most of my friends and acquaintances who homeschool their children are some flavor of Pagan and liberal. These are the people who have encouraged me the most to homeschool my child. These are the people who first helped me to realize that homeschooling is for people like us, too.

All of that said, there are other stereotypes that need addressed. That is to say, the idea that homeschool parents don’t know what’s best for our children, are uneducated, or otherwise don’t do as good of a job as public or private schools. It’s quite offensive. The local Board of Education for my county recently had a meeting wherein they spoke disrespectfully of homeschooling parents, all the while showing that they had little to no knowledge on the laws for homeschooling in West Virginia. Some of the views presented by members of the board were not only generally arrogant, but also classist.

Given the problems with the public educational system, many parents choose to homeschool because we want better for our children. Public school classrooms are far too large; teachers are underpaid, required to teach for standardized tests, and not given enough resources to sufficiently help all students. Children still get left behind, too often simply moved on to the next grade without the knowledge they need. Not only that, but bullying runs rampant in schools and often gets overlooked. In many schools, a decidedly conservative Christian and white supremacist bias is held by teachers and staff, which causes LGBTQIA+ students, non-Christian students, BIPOC students, and others to suffer in a toxic environment and to be undereducated based on these harmful biases.

With homeschooling, parents are free to individualize our children’s educations. Instead of teaching to a strict curriculum or with a single method, we can utilize what actually works best to keep our children engaged in learning. We can better ensure that the education we give our children is inclusive, rather than a white-washed curriculum common to public schools that mostly ignores BIPOC history, LGBTQIA+ issues, and non-Christian viewpoints. We can also better provide the socialization our children need in a safe and healthy environment without peer pressure or bullying.

While there is some truth to the stereotypes about homeschooling, it is only a partial truth that ignores the diversity of families who choose this route. It is often that the negative stereotypes are simply louder than the more positive ones.

Exploring School

This past school year has taught me more about my comfort zone as a parent than I imagined it would. With public schools switching to distance learning, the experience of having my child learn at home was eye opening. I can’t speak for what options other states had, but West Virginia had 3 options for public school students to choose from.

There was the self paced virtual program. That’s what we tried during the first semester. There was no set schedule, no required video conferences, and the student had until the end of their semester to complete all assignments. It started out well. My child did some assignments while I was away at work during the day, then I helped with some after I got home. That slowly tapered, as my child became more overwhelmed as the semester went on and we realized that the teachers (from out of state, mind you) didn’t actually teach anything. They provided the materials and graded the assignments, but that is not enough. I had been going over the materials with my child in the afternoons and my days off in an attempt to teach, often while multitasking with other things that needed done. We both got burned out due to the amount of time it took to go through everything each day.

Thus, when the second semester approached, we switched to the e-learning option with Schoology. This time, my child had teachers from their local school with a strict schedule consisting of conferences and due dates. In the first week, I was hopeful that it would simply be a matter of getting used to. By the end of the second week, I realized that this method was not going to work for my child. They were already so far behind and the Schoology option doesn’t account for students who need more help. My child had quickly lost interest and became unresponsive yet again to their educational demands.

At this point, schools in my state have begun in person instruction again for those who opted in for it. I was beginning to almost consider choosing this option. The biggest thing holding me back from that is the problem of a still active pandemic and knowing how overcrowded classrooms are. It worried me more that I got a notification that our local school has recently had a positive case reported. That aside, our child doesn’t want to return to in person learning, anyway. Before schools were forced to switch to distance learning, my child had already been struggling with going to school. Academically, they were doing as well as ever. Still an Honor student. Emotionally, they constantly complained of being tired or having an upset stomach to avoid going. It had become a battle to get my child to go to school in the mornings. My child had asked me repeatedly to switch to homeschool. With that in mind, I had to come to a new decision: To homeschool or to go back to in person?

I have several friends who homeschool their children and have been encouraging me to do, as well. What held me back is the worry that I wouldn’t have the time, or that it would be too much for me to handle. I’m not a stay at home parent, although I have gone down to working part time. Perhaps I was making excuses out of fear of not being enough. It is thanks to these friends that I realized, maybe I can do this. With my child’s education in my hands, maybe I can find a way to ensure they learn what they need to without the unnecessary struggle. We can find a curriculum that actually works for us.

The decision was made. I am officially becoming a homeschool parent. Worst case scenario, we’ll realize it’s not for us and we do end up switching back to in person schooling. Best case scenario? My child thrives. I am hopeful that we will figure this out. The prospect of being more hands on in finding the best way for my child to learn is exciting. One option that was recommended we start with is “deschooling”, to give my child a break from traditional schoolwork and allow us to figure out the learning style that works best for my child.

In my state, all that’s required to start homeschool is that I send in a Notice of Intent to our county board of education and to teach reading, language arts, math, science, and social studies. Of course, I plan to incorporate art, music, and physical education into my child’s education, as well. Those will be eased into our curriculum as we adjust. My child already uses Duolingo for Spanish, although on an admittedly inconsistant basis for now. After the Notice of Intent is mailed in, homeschoolers in West Virginia are required to have a portfolio review and/or testing done by June 30th. Because we are starting this month, I am a bit nervous about having a review done this year, but am also relieved to have heard that such reviews only take the actual time of being a homeschooler into account. Being reviewed for the few months that we will have had more control over is less scary than the entire year that was spent mostly with public school.

Boundaries With Grandparents

From the time that I was pregnant, my mother-in-law had a lack of boundaries concerning my child.

The first time that I noticed it was at my babyshower. I appreciated that she held it for me to begin with. The issue was, it felt like it was more for her than me. Though she had asked for a color theme, she poo-pooed my choice and told me what it should be. Not only that, but she never gave me the option to decide if I even wanted to reveal the baby’s gender to everyone. She decided that everyone had to know so they could buy presents. Counter this with a cousin-in-law’s babyshower that was clearly planned (by another party) with the pregnant mom in mind. Attending her babyshower was what made me realise that my preferences had been neglected.

The next big event was my child’s 2nd birthday. It was their first birthday party that we had invited a bunch of people to. Once again, my MIL pushed me to the side and stole the spotlight. Instead of offering to take photos while I helped my little one open gifts, she expected me to play the role of photographer. It was embarrassing and it hurt. I knew that I wasn’t being paranoid when friends and family members later remarked to me that the way MIL took over was wrong.

Several years later, my mother-in-law decided that my child should have a Facebook account. She insisted on creating one for her despite my telling her that the age was 13. I had to report the account to get it deleted.
After that, my MIL created a Kids Messenger account for my child without my permission. I was unable to get that taken down, but I did create a new one attached to my own account and started having my child use that one instead.

These are some of the biggest examples that stand out in my memory over the years. Having allowed my MIL so much control over my parenting in the earlier years is my biggest regret as a parent. I wish that I had spoken up sooner. I hate that I allowed her to shape how I raised my child and to tarnish memories that should have put mother and child first.
I don’t know if my mother-in-law thought that a grandchild was a second chance at having a daughter, or if she even realized what she was doing. She still seems to expect more than I think a grandparent should, but she has backed off since the spouse and I moved nearly an hour away. (I won’t get into the pity party she threw herself when she found out we were “taking ‘her’ girl away”.)

The spouse and I still let our child have a relationship with their paternal grandparents. We couldn’t justify denying them that at this point. I know that we are the ones raising them. They are kind, but has a dark sense of humor. They know that love is love, gender doesn’t always match what we’re assigned at birth, racism is a real problem, and spiritual paths/ religions of all kinds are valid. I am raising them to love theirself as they are and to accept others who might be different from them.
I just hope that my mother-in-law doesn’t try to cross any more boundaries as my child continues to grow up. If so, I will know what I’ll have to do.

Small City Life

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Credit e-wv, The West Virginia Encyclopedia

I’ve lived in Charleston, WV for going on two years now. It really doesn’t feel like it’s been this long yet. Charleston isn’t a large city. It almost has a small-town feel to it, but on a larger scale. The West Virginia capitol city has a nice focus on the arts, small business, and community events. It’s mostly clean and the people here are generally friendly. There is also more diversity here than what you usually find in more rural locations. The city is welcoming toward the LGBT+ community and those of varying religions. Needless to say, I love it!

There were multiple reasons for choosing Charleston when we moved from the rural community that we used to live in. It’s much closer to work, more opportunities, closer to my family, so on and so forth. I don’t have to travel thirty minutes to an hour to get to most places! There are truly so many advantages to living here.

The area we live in has benefits for my child, too. They go to an amazing year-round school. To be honest, I like it much better than their previous school. It has also given them the opportunity to attend the Magnet Music program for the Charleston area. If I had the money and my work schedule were more flexible, I could also sign them up for the varying extracurricular classes that the city’s businesses have to offer. There are parks within walking distance, sidewalks to safely walk with them on if we choose not to drive somewhere, the Clay Center has free events for kids a few times a year, and the WV Cultural Museum at the Capitol is free to visit.

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Sculpture at the Clay Center

As an artist, I was very much drawn to the art aspect of the city. It can be seen from the painted bricks along the sidewalks, to the murals on walls, to the banners promoting events. Charleston is frequently having art-related events. Problem is, my work schedule doesn’t quite mesh so well with events. That’s not the city’s fault. Some of the events that I would love to attend include Art Walk, Art After Dark, and classes at local stores.

Charleston also has a growing Pagan community. Beltaine In The Forest is one of several events throughout the year that many Pagans in the area will go to. In nearby St. Albans, there is a wonderful metaphysical store that offers many spiritual products, classes, and services.
The local Unitarian Universalist church has a CUUPS (Covenant of Unitarian Universalist Pagans) chapter with weekly meetings and rituals for each sabbat. I highly recommend the UUC for any liberal-leaning person interested in a spiritual home. They do so much good for social justice in the community and are accepting of all faiths.

Speaking of forests, Charleston is also within a half hour from the Kanawha State Forest. (Pronounced: Kan-awh.) It’s not a far travel if one wants to go for a hike or fishing. Charleston also has multiple other parks that can satisfy that need for time spent in nature. The forest and parks typically offer playgrounds for kids, shelters to book for events, trails, fishing areas, and many other things.

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A trail at Kanawha State Forest

There are many small businesses that surround the area. On a nice day, when I feel up for it and have extra spending money, I can easily walk to the library and make some stops on the way back for shopping and lunch.
Located in downtown Charleston, the public library here has a decent selection and many events, although parking has much to be desired if one can’t walk or bike. There is news that the city is making some plans for the library that will include easier parking.
As most cities, public transportation is available to those who can’t walk or bike and don’t have a car of their own. I am lucky enough that I can’t comment on what the buses here are like, but have heard they’re not too bad.

I won’t pretend there aren’t some drawbacks. Living in the city, there is more noise. The constant sounds of traffic, people outside, occasional fireworks during events can take some getting used to. Housing is a little more expensive, although not having to refuel the car as often is a help. Crime is one complaint many outside of the city have about Charleston, but it’s actually pretty safe in many places. Honestly, the rural areas we moved away from have growing problems with drugs, thieves, et cetera. At least here, emergency services are closer if help is needed.

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How Not To Be Perfect

“Honey, I’m home!” This is the cliche for the perfect mom/ wife/ career woman to say as she strolls through her front door. Her perfectly manicured nails and not a single hair out of place provide an image that tells the world she’s perfectly put together. Somehow, she manages to do and have it all. While her husband works, she also has a successful job. And, she is ever so lucky to have one that allows her an amazing work-life balance. She’s able to attend every event at her child’s school, take her child to extracurricular activities, partake in her own hobbies, have a perfectly tidy home, and be a nothing-but-loving wife to her husband.

You reading this: Are you okay? Did I make you vomit yet? No? Good. I’m sure we’re all already aware of the cliche that goes along with the above scene: Mrs. “Perfect” is secretly a fucking disaster who is an alcoholic by night, on drugs to get through the day, cheats on her husband with the hot lady down the street, etc. She sure does have it all!

With images like this flooding us, it can be difficult not to be envious of the imaginary Mrs. Perfect. How many of us feel like a disaster in our lives and don’t even have the rewards of an outwardly Perfect Life to show for it?

As working mom and wife who suffers with depression and anxiety, I feel no hope of even pretending to have it all. Some of it is situational. Perhaps with a Perfect Job, life might be easier. Perhaps if I were able to afford to be a stay at home mom, I could have the time and energy to take better care of my home. Perhaps this or that… whatever. The thing is, nothing is going to be perfect.
Many of us grew up being fed a delusion that good jobs were easy to get, that a single income could provide for a family, that there is time in a day for everything. Then we grew up and found out that none of that is real. Sometimes it is. Sometimes, you have to fight tooth and nail for it. Sometimes, you don’t have the health (mental or physical) to put up much of a fight. Sometimes the pain isn’t worth the effort.

If I had the answers, I wouldn’t have slept through my alarm this morning and gotten my child to school late. I sure as fuck wouldn’t be going to a job that I dread in about an hour. My house would be organized instead of a clean mess. Yes, that is my reality. Not usually the late for school part, but it fits the gist. This is me talking about the real. Not the imagined Mrs. Perfect that I wish I could be. I have to say, though, I do usually manage to cope better than our pretend Mrs. Pretending-to-be-Perfect. Probably because I’m not willing to fuck myself over for an image. Sorry, not sorry.

What I’m getting at here is just a reminder to those who need it: Your life is your own and nobody has it as good as they want everyone else to think! Yes, we all have to do shit that sucks. We are all trying to get through some unpleasantness or another.
There is not always a “pull yourself up by your bootstraps” solution to everything. You often either get help or get stuck. If you’re stuck, you make do with what you have however you can for as long as you can. You might still find a way to get what you want out of life.
I’m not suggesting to just give up completely. The important thing is not to raise your expectations to an unrealistic goal and not to beat yourself up for not being what you think of as perfect.

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All-County Chorus Day! (or A Day in the Life)

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For a blogger, I feel like I don’t post much about the daily life. These sorts of posts are a thing, right? I think so. Here we go. (Don’t worry: I don’t intend on doing this every day!)
My child was chosen for the All-County Chorus, which happens to be today! Counting today’s rehearsal, they’ve only had three in total. Not too bad for a working parent to manage.

Of course, I have had to request days off so that I could take them. Workforce can be a pain to deal with. Even when the supervisor approves it, workforce often falls behind and we employees have to be vigilant enough to catch scheduling screw ups and bring them to the attention of our supervisor. If the schedule isn’t fixed for the requested day, that can put us in a less favorable position of having to call out.
I often feel like my desire to put parental responsibilities before work can come across as a poor work ethic. What can I say to defend that to someone who thinks kids should come second in a parent’s life? (AKA: People who should never have kids!) We working parents sacrifice enough the way it is just so that we can provide for our kids. What’s a few days off once in a while?

Back to the day in the life theme, this is my today: I dropped my child off at rehearsal, bought my ticket to tonight’s program, panicked momentarily about the fact that I forgot that I need to also pay for parking when I pick them up from rehearsal, realized I have enough change for that and parking again for the program, received a phone call from my mom and took her to the store. It’s not even 10am yet.
My wife and I only have one car, so because I need it today, I’ll be dropping her off at work and she’ll have to stay late so that I can attend our child’s program. Having only one vehicle and two adults working separate jobs (sometimes at different times) can be a pain in the ass. I am, however, glad that we have a car to begin with – not all are so lucky.

Anywho! I’m excited for the concert. I’ll probably try to get a few things done in between dropping the wife off at work and picking the child up from rehearsal.

WV Teacher Strike #2

For 2 years in a row, the teachers of West Virginia have found reason to strike. Last time was for reasonable benefits. This time, it is to fight for the future of their student’s education. Many people assume that it’s about money… and some of it is, but not for the teachers! The teachers are striking yet again, this time against a bill that would give them a pay raise. Why? Because our government doesn’t give a damn about the kids in our public schools. The current bill in question will make the classrooms larger and take public funding from the public schools for charter schools, among other changes. These are teachers who are willing to risk their jobs and dismiss a higher wage in order to be sure that the children they teach have the best opportunities possible.

West Virginians get the short end of the stick far too often. Our state struggles with poverty and drug use. Jobs that can support a family are often difficult to find. Do we want that sort of future for our children? No!
Allowing public schools to give them a good enough education that the students will leave with greater opportunity is a huge start. Stealing funding and making classrooms larger certainly will be a detriment to the public school system. We can’t afford to take those hits. Our children deserve better.

Meanwhile, we have parents who are complaining that their children are staying home during the strike. I can understand when a parent works, they can’t always afford to stay home with the kids. However, it is a parent’s responsibility to arrange backup childcare! Our children’s teachers are not babysitters. Yet, the union and other organizations are also working to assist many parents who need childcare during the strike.
In addition to this, some parents who have the luxury to stay home are complaining. To them, I especially say: Shame on you! Enjoy the extra time with your kids. If you have access to the internet, many schools have given out links to educational programs throughout the year for students to use. Use them if you’re truly concerned about your kid’s education!

To conclude, I will always support our WV teachers when they strike. I recognize that they have their student’s best interests in mind as they do so. I am glad to know that the teachers of this state care about the future of public education.