My intuition has always been the responsible party in all the most important decisions of my life. For a true Gemini Twin with very strongly competing yin and yang, this may be a little disappointing for my extremely analytical, data-obsessed, spreadsheet-loving Analyzer Twin. She takes care of all the financial and planning aspects of life. But it's the Intuitive Twin within me that wins out with he big decisions and seems to know before I do how I'm supposed to live my life.
Last weekend, I got to watch that intuitive force wake up like a sleeping giant who had been lying dormant, observing.
It started with an email from the girls' school last Wednesday informing us that we would need to be prepared to come back to school in-person the following week. Our girls have been attending a small private school for the last 6 years and the school was small enough that they could be pretty nimble with Covid. At the start of the school year, we were given the option of attending in-person or opting to continue from home with distance learning. Our girls thrived in the spring with distance learning so we gladly took the remote learning option, even knowing that the priority would be on the kids who opted for in-person learning. Virus-related health concerns aside, it gave us the ability to create a more balanced, consistent approach for the kids in what we anticipate to be a pretty volatile school year.
The timing of the email from the school was ironic. The girls had just returned home from doing an art class down the street with our wonderful neighbor. They walked in the door from art looking relaxed, lit up, confident, and seemingly finding this beautiful balance between maintaining an academically-rigorous school load and still enjoying the "art" of being a kid. Bella, my "I'm not good at art" daughter, was enjoying letting go of the "pretty art" notion and learning to enjoy free expression -- the true essence of art. And Eliana could spend all day every day doing art. They were staying on top of completing a very independent distance-learning program in school, while enjoying more freedom of time to engage in extra-curricular activities that were sparking a higher degree of engagement. I though to myself: I really like this way of life. I don't want to go back to normal.
We have removed much of the "busyness of life" that defined most days pre-Covid. The stressful morning grind of getting the kids off to school. Gone. The homework until 10pm. Gone. The after-school pickup where I would place mental bets on which girl would be the hangry monster that day on the car ride home. Gone. The evenings and weekends on a dead run, negotiating which parent was going to take care of which child's activity. Gone. The busyness of life has been replaced by trying to get back to basics and we aren't particularly excited about going back to our old normal. When that email arrived last Wednesday that it was time to come back to school, it symbolized more than just going back to school and we found ourselves at a defining moment where life was asking us to show up and become more purposeful "How are you going to decide to live your life?"
My initial response was to do what I always do: Unleash my data-obsessed, going-to-analyze-every-possible-option-until-I-find-a-solution Twin to power through a 48-hour sleepless research binge to try and find our Plan B -- something that would satisfy our desire to place health as a priority, provide consistency during very volatile times, encourage a love of learning, and allow us to travel (someday) and continue to explore living outside the box we were living in pre-Covid. This 48-hour consumption binge was really a continuation of research I had started during the summer when I had no idea what options our school would provide us with.
When Chris and I were researching alternative school options over the summer, it was initially driven by concerns over health concerns from Covid. What we realized pretty quick was that our desire for a different type of educational experience for our kids really wasn't about Covid and we needed to be clear on that so we didn't use Covid as an excuse. The mess that Covid has created for education across the world was just the catalyst that gave us a better reason to consider other options. If we won't make changes now, when will we ever? When things are more "comfortable" again? I know one thing about growth. It happens outside the comfort zone.
OK. So back to my Intuitive Twin. After all, that's where I started this story. She clearly had my answer months ago, even if I wasn't ready for it yet. My 48-hour research binge last week involved shedding a lot of tears and asking the Universe 3 separate times to please show me answers that were best for my kids and my family--not just this year, but what path do we want to head down? I love and adore my kids more than anything in this world and would do anything for them. I rarely ask for help because I rely so heavily on my analyzer Twin. But despite my best intentions, I felt lost and didn't have a single Plan B for school that felt right. I had looked at hundreds of options at that point, mostly online schools and curriculum, but also some other in-person brick and mortar options.
My call to the Universe for help (not something I do often, but now I'm thinking I should!) was answered. At yoga, of course! I ran into a friend and fellow mom of my daughter's classmate. I expressed concerns about school and she suggested that I reach out to another family from school that had opted to homeschool this year.
Homeschool, like real Homeschool with a capital H (not just doing digital school from home), had only crossed my mind very lightly. As in, I was scared shitless of real Homeschool because of my own limiting beliefs that 1) my kids would be weird 2) My kids will fall behind or will will close doors to them 3) I don't want my kids to be limited by my world view 4) Who has time for that? I work too.
Despite my own thoughts about Homeschool, I knew I needed to call this superstar homeschooling mama. I thought she was going to tell me about a digital curriculum they were using, but quite the contrary. They are using the Bookshark curriculum, which is a very hands-on (ie lots of parent involvement), literature-based curriculum. It's as back-to-basics as you can get. No digital time. She walked me through everything they are doing and I discovered she's a veteran to the homeschool way of life. Several years prior, they wanted the freedom to travel the world with their kids and had Homeschooled with this curriculum before their kids moved to the private school that our daughters attended. Knowing her kids and hearing her story immediately eliminated every fear and limiting belief I held about homeschool. The result of her previous homeschooling had produced kids that were extremely well-adjusted and way ahead of the pack when they entered school. Best of all, the kids appear to genuinely enjoy learning.
I got off the phone with her and immediately felt like a 1-ton weight had been lifted off my shoulders. My mama intuition had awoken and I had absolutely zero doubt about what I needed to do. This was my opportunity to course correct and create an enriching learning opportunity for my whole family. The strong intuitive pull reminded me of when my husband asked me to marry him after knowing each other for 6 weeks. My Analyzer Twin didn't hem and haw and spreadsheet the decision. In the moment, my Intuitive Twin showed up with nothing but love and had no doubt that the answer was YES. That pull was just as strong last Friday night when I made the decision then and there that I was going to pull my kids out of institutional school and Homeschool. [Full disclosure. The Analyzer Twin did spend the next 48 hours researching and figuring out all the details to make this work. The Intuitive Twin was gone once the big work was done. I really need both the Analyzer and the Intuitive to make my world work😉]
My kids always use the term "nervous-cited" to describe the nervous excitement of embarking on something new. That's what we are all feeling right now as we embark on a new journey of de-schooling and finding a renewed love of learning. Since Covid started, we are all spending so much more time in the digital world. I get a predictable moan every time I suggest my kids pick up a book. Watching the Social Dilemma recently was enough to make me say "Enough". It's time to course correct. It's time to be more purposeful in creating our new normal and not just slipping back into the old normal out of comfort.
I realize this is going to be a HUGE commitment and I am going to have to have extremely clear priorities in order to succeed. In my mind, it's not an option for my kids to fall behind academically. It's not an option to allow doors to close on them because they've been Homeschooled, whether we do this for a year or longer. It's also not an option for me to lose myself and my own interests outside of my kids. I have a great real estate team that I want to continue to work with and I want to do everything in my power to balance the competing commitments. This is a very new and, I assume, significant chapter for me. I could not be more excited for the growth phase we are about to embark upon...way outside the comfort zone and pre-Covid box.
[P.S. I know this was the right decision because this is the first time since June I've felt grounded enough to write. Thanks for the nudge, Brooke!]