Friday, July 16, 2010

Seeds of Doubt

There's been 2 distinct times (now 3) when I've seriously questioned if I had the ability to do what I've set out to do. The first is farmer boy #1 and the second is farmer boy #2. Both pregnancies brought with them a wave of fear- "how am I ever going to manage TWO young children?" I finally rested by the multitudes who had gone before. MANY mothers have children far closer together than 20 months. So when the third child was waiting his debut and I was again having those fears, I again remembered the multitudes through history.

Now I'm stuck. This round of fear (which is completely unrelated to pregnancy despite my ferocious case of baby envy) has none that I can find who has gone before. None. I'd be happy for someone to point one out. Please... just one... anyone?

I'm beginning to doubt my ability to school my children well and maintain the homestead. Farmer girl hasn't yet begun kindergarten and I'm floundering getting through 3 days of preschool lessons a week. And I understand that I'm abnormally busy right now, but it has just started me on the hunt for someone who's doing both. Instead I find:
1) Women who have great homesteads but "unschool" their children. Yes, its a valid movement but not at all an option for this family of proud, unswerving nerds.
2) Women who school their children superbly but manage very little real food production.
3) Women who seemingly do it all beautifully yet their husbands are home all or much of the time to "tend the fields".

We practice what we like to call "old fashioned home economics." My husband has a city job and I do what I can to produce as much food whilst caring for the young'uns. But we have a solid stance toward homeschooling. And homeschooling WELL. The multitudes who have gone before had far fewer skills to teach. Then it was arithmetic... I'll be teaching calculus. Then they taught English... I'll be teaching Chinese. I'm determined that our children will have a better education with us being their teachers than they would have in any school system. So, if something has to give to do that, what gives? The garden takes the most time, but also produces the most nutrition. If I can get everything on maintenance mode where I don't need to do all day weeding sessions once a month (which keeps the garden barely recognizable as a garden), and I can convince the bugs to not eat anything but those weeds, and I can always depend on adequate rainfall, oh and I'd also need automatic planting and transplanting... I could probably do it.

Maybe I'm just fretting over nothing. Maybe I'll learn to get up and get the chores done in the pre-dawn hours as they did way back when. Maybe I'll learn to function on 6 hours of sleep. Maybe the kids will learn to stay in bed beyond when they hear my bedroom door open. Maybe the kids will be able to really help in the garden in the near future. Maybe the farmer girl really will be able to milk when she's 5 as I've told her that's when she can help milk (so now she asks everyday when she's going to turn 5). Maybe I'll find ways of streamlining housework. Maybe I will find someone who's doing it all and be able to glean some wonderful tips.

Maybe I should call these "weeds of doubt" instead and just yank them from the root.


  1. I have watched my best friend homeschool and homestead for the last 15 years. Her daughter received a full academic scholarship for college, so there is no doubt she is doing a good job educating her children. Her youngest is now 6. I know she reads your blog, so I hope she will comment.

    My observations from the outside are that you cannot do it all. You have to set priorities, and do the best you can with the time you have left. Her husband milks and cares for the large livestock before and after work. She supplements what she can grow with purchases from the farmer's market. She tries to schedule school, so that she has time off during spring and fall planting, and Christmas. If you have friends or family in the area, ask them for help, or to give you a break from the kids. You need it. Multi-task when you can. Put something in the crockpot while you are doing school. Cook multiple meals at the same time, and freeze the extras.

    It will get easier as the children get older. They will be able to do more independently, and will be able to help more. You are going through a rough time, because the children are young, but they are going to make demands on your time, no matter what their age. Remember that they are more important than whatever needs to be done. If you can't handle it all, cut in other areas, your children will be grown before you know what happened.

    Finally, remember to spend time with the Lord. His encouragement will get you through the rough times.

  2. When there's a will, there's a way, and you definitely have the will, so the way will follow. Instead of weeding once a month, maybe enlist the kids to help you weed once a week for 30 minutes or an hour. I agree with Cindy about making multiple meals at once and crockpotting. And whatever falls through the cracks probably wasn't too important in the first place.

  3. I'm the that friend Cindy was talking about. When all my children were younger, we didn't grow or produce as much food as we do now. Prioritizing well is one of the most important things you can do, and it sounds like you have the right priorities. Put your children's education first, then the homestead. Homesteading in Florida is seasonal. It helps to do the bulk of the homeschooling during those months when the garden isn't as demanding. We usually take more time off from school in winter/spring and less in summer. Get your children to contribute. I just had my two youngest (6 and 8) cut up a bunch of peaches we bought at the farmer's market last weekend. There are many things little children can do to help. :)

  4. Wow- thank you everyone! I honestly wasn't expecting such awesome encouragement. I kinda expected more, "Glad you're coming to your senses" type responses. I will be relying on these words of encouragement over the years I'm sure. I'm remembering how busy I felt with only 1 child and barely any daily chores. I have no more hours in the day, I just learned to be better organized and plan ahead more. I can step that up another notch. Pre-prep an extra dinner once a week, make sure I'm calling for mulch before I'm out (one reason why the weeds are exceptionally bad this season), spread out school breaks to do major garden work... you all are right... I can school them well AND feed them well. Thanks again!

  5. you can do Alison, if anyone can!

    and um, don't compare yourself to others... especially this one:)

  6. And here's another homeschooling Mama friend of mine, also in Florida, but I don't know how far apart. Maybe you guys could team up!

    BTW, this is Katie, not Dave :)