Sometimes our life commitments are a tug of war for our time.
When I thought about writing this article I thought about several things that would qualify as difficult to contend with while homeschooling. Some things have lasted a short time and then we were able to move on, but we have one that is a frequent source of pressure for me. That pressure comes from us having to care for my mother-in-law. When you have to deal with a person who is continually angry, critical or upset, it starts to take its toll. My husband and I have often said in the last decade that it’s like having another toddler to care for, but one that doesn’t reciprocate with any love, hugs or sweetness in return. You see, we are part of the “sandwich generation.”
Sandwich Generation: “A generation of people, typically in their thirties or forties, responsible for bringing up their own small children and for the care of their elderly parents.” In America the best estimates suggest that 9% of the population fall into this category. In 1981, Dorothy Miller coined the term sandwich generation. Specifically, Miller was referring to a segment of the middle-aged generation that provides support to both young and older family members yet does not receive reciprocal support in exchange. Miller emphasized the unique stressors of multigenerational caregiving that included emotional needs, financial needs and lack of time to meet those needs.
During most weeks caring for her doesn’t take away from our actual homeschooling. Most things she needs can be scheduled into our daily life. We also visit her frequently at the assisted living place where she lives to bring her things and so she can see her grandkids. Where I have found it becomes difficult is when she relentlessly calls me 5-6 times a day about a single, arguably trivial thing because she wants us to stop everything we are doing and tend to her right that second. Many times I have to let the phone go to voicemail so we can keep going with our day and get back to her later.
When she broke her hip last October we ended up not doing any real school for two weeks. School would have been impossible because we were going to the hospital 2-3 times a day for 10 days and our entire family was worn out. Then for the first month she was in rehab we went to see her nearly every day while also trying to accomplish everything else in our lives. Ultimately we didn’t meet all the goals I had for homeschool. But that is where homeschooling was so beneficial to our lives; we were far enough ahead in our work that even if we weren’t doing something official, I didn’t have to worry that our girls were falling behind.
This has also provided us a chance to let the girls be a part of serving people in a real life way. Their grandmother isn’t always the kindest person, but they are seeing us serve her anyway, because that is what God would have us do. As our girls grow into adulthood we hope that they will learn from this experience that sometimes the things we have a duty to do are not fun or fulfilling, but that doesn’t excuse us from doing them.
Homeschooling Through Difficult Times Series
Louanne lives in Texas with her awesome husband and two daughters. She loves Jesus, cookies, reading, crafting, laughing a lot and baking. She homeschools her girls and also runs a mentorship program for at risk children in a local elementary school. Louanne also enjoys documenting her family’s adventures through photos and blogging, finding coupon deals and making gifts for family and friends. Louanne blogs over at www.dwimble.com and you can find her on Facebook and Twitter.