THE ROAD NOT TAKEN
Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth.
Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same.
And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.
I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I--
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.
Sometimes you cannot get away from an idea, no...not just an idea...a way of life... no matter how you try to dodge it. You can close your eyes, but it shows up in your dreams. You can try to take other paths, but it meets you at the end of each trail. You can talk of other things, and it presents itself, still, squarely and brazenly in your mind, words and heart.
The word, the concept, the lifestyle came up in talk last year. Certainly if any family desired a homeschooling 'set up' or lifestyle, they would be happy to overtake our life. With a full time farm, huge rambling farmhouse, and every tangible life skill at our disposal, we are all set to teach and learn about anything and everything. Our oldest child wanted to be homeschooled. Our life, he sensed early on, lends itself to the whole homeschooling concept. All summer we, as a family, tossed around the idea. But, my husband and I were public school graduates, former marching band geeks and we had 'subscribed' to the public school system in our heads and hearts. I could picture our oldest walking proudly to Pomp and Circumstance in my mind. So, abandoning these preconceived pictures in my head was a huge mental hurdle to even considering homeschooling. One friend who homeschools said, ' just jump in, you'll never regret it.' She was right. My heart told me at the beginning of this school year that my children needed home and what I could teach them. We jumped.
For four anxious weeks I struggled to grasp this new concept. I spent hours each night and early morning compiling curriculum and then presenting and teaching it to the children, all in conjunction with the advent of our busiest season of apples and cider, harvest, farm store employees and in-laws. I was constantly on 'show' for all to see and 'judge' my homeschooling abilities. I was mortified and stressed and anxious beyond anything I have ever experienced. "This can't be right for us", I reasoned. My dear husband saw my stress and suggested putting the children back in school after four weeks of homeschooling. In a moment of weakness and lack of tangible curriculum-induced anxiety, I succumbed.
We contacted both schools, re-enrolled the children. Our youngest had lost her spot in her school building, and after much combined communication we achieved her comfy spot back with her old teacher and schoolmates.
But, just like the unexpected death of a loved one in a car accident, something was gone that was never coming back: The ease of sending my children down the road on the bus for someone else to teach. Every minute they were gone, I was haunted by the 'what ifs' and the 'why didn't you's?' and reminded that I had abandoned a dream. Strength and dreams go hand in hand. When we believe in our dreams they become reality. We attract the reality and it works! When we believe in our dreams, no matter how silly or far fetched, others begin to believe with and alongside us, and, before we know it...all of a sudden...our dreams become inspiration for others!
The Waldorf educational style, which focuses on embracing the developmental stages of the child and nurturing, presented itself time and again. So much so, that a certified Waldorf teacher whom I had taught to make cheese last winter, showed up on our doorstep ready to educate me on the Waldorf homeschooling methods. Support and encouragement from people I had never met before poured into our lives.
Coincidentally (or not) our entire set of 2nd grade and 8th grade curriculum that had been ordered during our first few week's adventures into homeschooling, arrived in the mail the very 'day' the children went back to school. The boxes sat for two weeks, and then I opened them and gingerly set them out for each child. Amazingly, even after being in school all day, they wanted to work on their education. They worked simultaneously on homeschool curriculum AND went to public school. Admittedly, our oldest was lost somewhere in between and though he has always been a straight A student, I could see his heart and mind choosing sides. His assignments at school began to fall by the wayside, while his love of learning and education at home continued to grow.
We continued this way for the bulk of October, culminating in this final All-Hallows-Eve weekend. I sold soaps at the now-famous Art on the Farm art show next door and then took our youngest trick-or-treating. She had a small cough and sniffles for which I decided to keep her home from school the next day, and we all fell asleep exhausted after her sorting of candy.
Monday dawned fresh and cold, and our 'Closed' sign was placed on the door for cider and apples. There was a quiet hush to the landscape and our home. No employees, no customers. Just the occasional mewing kitten and the stirring of our corn bin drying the harvest across the road. Both children begged, my heart recovered, and my dreams dusted themselves off.
I have failed. But, I try again. We all fail at things everyday. We try again. This is life. Don't stop trying just because you fail, or your dreams will never manifest themselves.
It is with the most sincere and heartfelt apologies (and let me tell you that I see their hardworking faces all too often in my thoughts and prayers and think of them with thanks for the job they strive each day to accomplish) to the dedicated and super-hardworking teachers of our children, that we return to our homeschool journey...a little worn around the edges from taking the beaten path, but ready to journey down the less traveled, colorful and soul strengthening road of life, education and dreams.