The past few weeks in the Coffey house have been tumultuous in terms of stuff. Not emotional stuff, but tangible, physical stuff. Clutterty stuff, unused, guilt-inducing stuff.
Guilt. My constant companion since becoming a mother. An uninvited guest...haunting every occasion...every day...every activity. Anyone else out there have that? Not like "Oh I did something wrong..." guilt, but this sort of nagging feeling that when I'm doing one thing I should be doing another. Or being more....or better.
And so I've been sorting through things in my house as well as my head and I am not sure if it's the new year, all the events of last or just realizing life isn't forever....but things are changing around these parts.
Decluttering is nothing new here. We declutter and rearrange all the time. This time, though, I've had pen and paper in hand and am making notes about what is leaving, why, how it makes me feel and what it means in terms of future decisions and letting go of this person I always thought I SHOULD be. It's part frightening and part freeing.
Some things I've had to get really honest about....
Homeschooling. When I stared I had my little school room and bins and curriculum, a map and alphabet on the wall. Tidy and neat. Perfect and structured. I've come to find out it just doesn't work that way. I mean, sure, you can read blog after blog with picture perfect "pinable" scenes of a homeschool Mom's BEST day, but the reality is....homeschooling just isn't school at HOME. It's not. In my house we school all over the place...we search for pens and pencils and crayons and kids disappear for a couple hours and filter back to me when they have questions. I do not stand in front of a chalkboard and write anything and very rarely do we do "tests" or raising hands or any of that nonsense. My olders work independently, my littles sit on my lap.
And curriculum. Oh how I wish I was that mom that did all the fun activities with those big curricula and liked making homemade slime and mixing and crafting and all that crap. But I don't. I never have. I've been at this for 11 years and I am still not into making school that hard. I want to get it done. I want my children to understand commas and question marks, speak intelligently, read good books and know how to change a tire. That is what SCHOOL is for. Life is for everything else. That's where we learn about animals, how to cook, clean, manage time, money and relationships and learn to be the people we are supposed to be (yes, even me...I'm still learning too!)
So...yesterday I sorted through it all. I touched books that induced such guilt I struggled hardcore to let go. I had to ask myself...does this reflect OUR life..or the imaginary one I think I'll live someday. Is the life I already do live THAT bad and would it be THAT good if I used THIS BOOK in our homeschool? I mean really that's what I'm holding onto if you really bottom line it. Maybe...maybe with NOAH...or the new baby, I'll be that Mom that spends 3 hours on the Phonics Game...and not be that Mom that uses the 100 Easy Lessons (in 15 minutes a day!!....and all my children can and do read by the way!) Going through workbooks with like 10 pages done because we realized this was NOT going to work was HARD.....or those with HALF done because by half the book my children were too advanced to continue without being bored....those books, half used, dog-eared to page 100, pristine until 203....killed me. It felt so wrong, so wasteful....so ICKY. With each book I tore pages out of (for porfolio purposes) and tossed....it didn't feel better ,it felt worse, to be perfectly honest. Until I sat down with pen and paper and wrote down what I threw away, what replaced it and WHY I could let go. That felt good. I gave myself written permission to be okay with who I really, really am and what I am doing with my childrne for real...not in fantasy land.
This extended to other parts of my persona and who I really am. I love to scrapbook. I haven't in like a year. Why? Too much crap to sort through to get to it. I realized, through writing it all out scrapbooking is NOT a "creative outlet" for me. Not at all. I enjoy it because I enjoy going through the memories and I enjoy spending time with my children who help me and I enjoy the finished product and watching them go through their books. But I am not that crafter that wants to paper piece embellishments to paint chipboard letters to perfectly match the paper I selected specifically for the layout. I want to crop my pictures, put them on pretty paper, write down what's going on, stick some pretty stickers on the page and be done. That's enough for me. And so I got rid of not only supplies....but the expectation to USE them because I had them (And Mallory is having a heck of a time with all the paper and stickers she's been given)....and with that, all my scrapbook magazines with "Great ideas.." I NEVER refer to them. I never use them. So again, the girls got them to cut up (they are making collages and if you are ever doing something mixed media, the graphics and text in scrap magazines are unparalleled!!) Also, I don't have to be a perfectionist about my photos. I can delete, toss and get rid of MUCH of what I take. Digital technology has been like mega overload for me in terms of pictures, and so as an "allowance job" I directed my almost 14 year old daughter to our dropbox and showed her how to sort through all the pictures and get rid of blurry shots, headless people, Mom looking like she's on a bender (why is it that everytime I make it into a picture I look drunk??) and I didn't.....even...supervise. I trusted her. I needed these sorted and didn't have time. And lo and behold, even though I didn't micro-manage this task, no one in my family mysteriously disappeared because a photo I wanted got deleted. Who knew??
Bin after bin, box after box, choice after choice has been examined and left me a little raw. Who am I exactly? What do I value? Does my life reflect that or am I still just waiting for that life to happen. It's a tough question to answer. There are a million choices I make on a daily basis and some I learn from, some I cling to, some I am not sure about....
Last night though, I sat and stuffed all my pocket diapers for Emory. I hadn't used them in awhile. I found myself wanting to get back to that choice because it reflects what is important to me on a level most people probably think is lame. But still, it's a choice I made a long time ago that got brushed aside in favor of other things...things that don't necessarily even get in the way of using them, but when you're cluttered of mind and spirit, you tend to follow the path of least resistance...and we all know, cloth diapers ain't that path ;)
I am not sure all I will accomplish this year, but I think journaling about what it is I am doing and why is cathartic. Why am I buying THIS? Why did I avoid doing THIS? Why do I think THAT? For the rest of my life I'll be living with me and I'd really like that person to stop being a stranger I think I'll get to know if only I make all these choices I never do make. For better or worse, I am who I am and while I welcome and accept growth and change, I need to be realistic about what that process is and what it produces over the LONG TERM, not the right now....and that nothing I hold on to, or start doing, or BUY will produce any lasting, meaningful change anyhow.
So here's to a 2014 where I start to like living with me, myself and I....