Sunshine and rainbow unicorn farts (or emotional cost/benefit ratios in homeschooling)
Posted on 20 May 2016
Recently I realized I’m the same age my father was when he took my things and threw them on the lawn.
I was 18.
If it’s possible to get over such a thing, I haven’t gotten there. I am frustrated that it bothers me, but I can’t seem to find a cure. I was left with a sense of worthlessness, a hole that feels a lot like depression. Nothing filled it: not my GPA, degrees, cases, clients, skills, good deeds. (Not even seeing them fail as a family after I was gone, but I admit to a certain Schadenfreude.)
I recently learned borderline mothers and narcissistic fathers are a thing, a type. I didn’t have words for it until recently, I just knew I didn’t want to be anything like my parents. They are alcoholics. I took not drinking to something of an extreme. I do like good port and Madeira and the bitterest of IPA, but friends can bring beer or wine to my house, and expect to find it there six months on. (A friend brought a pint glass to our house so it would be there when he came over. I suspect a gift of Riedel glasses from another friend were for the same reason–but I’m not complaining.)
For me, homeschooling is the opposite of kicking my daughter out. (How does one do that, kick a child out? I understand frustration and needing breaks, but how do you tell your child she’s worthless?) I wish I could say I was doing it selflessly and unknowingly, but I’m not that noble or clueless.
Giving up most of my external sense of self-worth–work, salary, kudos–for a thing I never wanted to do (stay home or teach) makes it easily the biggest “I’m not my mother or father” I could manage. (Also the biggest “I’ll probably never pay my student loans back,” but that’s an anxiety attack and political rant for another day.)
It’s my good luck that most of the time, I like hanging out with my daughter. She is at an age where she gets the jokes–makes the jokes–and while she is so very sensitive, she is starting to get surly (and to smell occasionally like onions, a thing I was pleasantly surprised to discover lots of people search for “Why does my eight-year-old smell like onions?”). I’m well aware that the next few years aren’t going to be easy…and there’s a reason why she’s signed up for a lot of summer camps.
Still. Surly, sensitive, smelling of onions–how does one decide, “I’m going to get rid of this kid?” I can’t fathom it.
When my father ejected me from the family home, when he was my age, his best work was behind him–professionally and as a human being. Even if all were sunshine and rainbow unicorn farts between us, I doubt I’d acknowledge him on the street. Sacrifices of my profession and income aside… I’m going to tempt fate and say I’m pretty sure my best work lies ahead of me.