Tuesday, April 20, 2010

The Writing Life: Homeschool-Style

I don't usually write much about my personal life, because...well, it's personal. But I encounter many people who, when hearing how many kids I have ("Five? That's a lot!") and that I homeschool them ("Wow! You must be really busy!"), wonder how I get any writing done ("Do you ever sleep?").

So I wanted to put a few myths to rest.

MYTH #1--Having five kids is a lot of children.

Baloney. Sure, it makes for a hectic house, but it's an average-size family if you ask me. Of course, both my parents came from larger families (7 kids in my mom's family and 8 in my dad's), and I had a friend in high school who was the oldest of 12. Now THAT is a lot of children in one house. Five is peanuts compared to twelve.

MYTH #2--Homeschooling that many kids is impossible.

Baloney. Sure, it's hard work and I don't always succeed (in fact, I hold the self-imposed title of Worst Homeschooling Parent Ever), but my kids manage to learn things even when I drop the ball. And, to my utter delight, every adult that meets them comments on how refreshing it is to see polite but focused kids. My kids speak with respect, answer questions thoughtfully, and don't see the point in "following the crowd." They are different, but in a good way.

MYTH #3--You can't homeschool your kids and write, too.

Double baloney. Sure, I don't get a lot done with my kids at home 24/7, but I can still get some writing done. I may not be in a position to write all day, and it may take me longer than most to finish a book, but it's no different than a writer who works full-time out of the home. And the added bonus is that when I'm not writing, I'm learning alongside my kids. I'm soaking in knowledge that I can turn around and use in my manuscripts.

(The down side: I have to fake it when I write about school settings. But luckily I do remember my own PS [pubic school] days and I am surrounded by friends and family who can fill me in on the details about today's PS system. And it must be working, since the book my agent has on submission is set in an elementary school. It was the manuscript I used to get his attention, in fact.)

The hardest thing about writing and homeschooling is learning to balance the two worlds. I'll admit that some days I wish I could ship the kids off to school so I could have six hours to myself. And other days I'm ready to set aside the writing so I can focus on being a better homeschooling mom. But I've learned that I'm not happy if I can't be doing both. The writing helps refill my creative well, and gives me the energy to keep going in our homeschool. And the homeschool gives me satisfaction I couldn't get any other way (plus I feel less guilty about spending so much time writing when I know most of my day is spent in the service of someone[s] other than myself). (That Mom Guilt is something else, isn't it?)

I can't say whether or not my life will always be this way. My oldest is creeping ever closer to the junior high years, and the thought of high school at home is a little terrifying at this point. But I'm also really grateful for the opportunity to raise my kids the way I want to raise them, teach them the way I want them to be taught, and to watch them grow into the amazing adults I know they will become someday.

And I get to write about it, too. What more could you want in life? (Besides a book contract, that is.) (Hint, hint, editor people.) My books might not be edgy and dark, but they are how I want the world to be; happy and fun, full of life and good. A good life is what I have, and a good life is what I want to share with the world. What's wrong with that?

Nothing, I say. Absolutely nothing.


  1. Those are not myths. I super impressed! 5? WOW! Homeschooling? Double wow. You're super girl in my eyes.

    Rooting for the book contract!

  2. And that's another myth, Christina. I am not super girl. Though I should get a cape just for the heck of it. ;)

    Thanks for rooting for the book contract!