I wear my hair in a ponytail most of the time. Actually it’s not a real ponytail – like those cute ones that look like smooth waterfalls cascading from the back of those cute girls’ heads. You know the ones.
Most of the time, mine is in a make-shift ball of chaos that peeks above the horizon of my scalp like a misshapen moon. Runaway hairs fly all over the place and are never really part of the hairstyle. They are just orphaned, left to fend for themselves for the day.
It’s a mess.
And yet, somehow, it’s still my favorite style.
Before bed, I pull the elastic ring from my head and all my hair falls like a mop around my face. And, it feels like freedom. I’m serious. I can actually feel freedom. There is something so relaxing about taking a ponytail down at the end of a long day. My temples relax and any headache I might have from the day’s happenings (which might have actually been from my too-tight bun) dissipates.
It feels good.
The other day, while doing schoolwork with my boys in a Maryland hotel room, this same relaxed feeling came over me. It’s the first year I’ve felt like this in regards to my kids’ schooling – cause it’s the first year we’ve homeschooled full time. Sure, we did it on and off, taking their classwork with us whenever we traveled together (which was often) but it was becoming increasingly difficult to merge our unconventional life with conventional schooling. It felt like the walls were closing in on us. Tethered to strict guidelines, timeframes and workloads that often butted heads with our family schedule and our children’s individual learning styles, we felt confined.
So, for those reasons, (and because I felt badly for being that mom – the one who drives the teachers insane) at the end of last year, we changed our style.
Took the ponytail down.
And last week, in a hotel in Baltimore, I felt free – like I was walking around with all my hair uninhibited and cascading around my face in a gigantic curly, mop (except it wasn’t cause I needed to be able to see the boys’ papers). Each of the boys was able to go at a pace that was good for them, then we could stop when we wanted and go do something else. We could plan the day around other things not just school things. Life things. Connecting their science lesson on amphibians with our outing to the national aquarium on the harbor was a blast.
Our driving time to visit relatives was their reading time. And best of all, they could be in Maryland with me – to do ministry, spend time with extended family and see the world outside the classroom.
Homeschooling isn’t for everyone. Let’s be clear, I’m not even totally sure yet that it’s for us (check back with me in May). I’m not writing this post because I think it’s the way everyone should go or that it’s somehow more right than another educational choice. But I do know that for now, for us, it’s a blessing.
Do I know what I’m doing? Not really.
Do I whisper a regular prayer begging for patience? All the time.
Have I solicited help from others because this job is a bit too big for me? You bet.
Do I secretly wonder if my children might grow up to be one of those awkward adults who can’t find a real job and end up living at home for the rest of their lives? Ummmm. . .maybe.
But my hair is down. Temples are loose. Quite a few homework headaches are quelled.
We feel free. And, at least for now, it feels good.