What do I fear more than public potty-training mishaps, raucous meltdowns in kid-unfriendly locations, and realizing my nursing cami has been obviously unclasped for an undetermined amount of hours as I went about my errands? Homework.
With a 5-year-old, 3.5-year-old, and a 16-month-old, I am securely within what veteran moms call “the busy years.” I wipe butts and noses. I avoid family meals out in public with nearly the same ferocity with which I dodge porto-potties. I navigate simultaneous meltdowns and dual nap schedules on the regular. I can buckle a car seat, settle a toy squabble, and nurse a baby at the same time. The need level is high in these early years. However, we have yet to enter the homework phase.
As much as I like to look ahead with naive aspirations of tantrum-free days and nights of uninterrupted sleep, I fear homework as a looming monster. I am a stay-at-home mom, I love my children, I adore witnessing them develop and flourish, but I am no teacher. Patience is a virtue in high demand but low in quantity for this mama, especially come dinnertime.
Evenings are treacherous territory now with my kindergartener feeling exhausted after a full day at school, my preschooler being his “professional little brother” self catching up on all of the mischievous sibling annoyance he was unable to accomplish during his sister’s school day, and my toddler demanding nursing sessions any time he sees my face. I cannot imagine adding homework drama to this.
Two ill-fated summers in a row I purchased summer workbooks for my then-preschooler eldest child. The goal was to keep her learned skills fresh. The outcome: mother-daughter battle. Every afternoon we sat down to review the material. At first, things went well. Then, the winds changed and the sky grew black. My daughter would say she couldn’t do things that she clearly could. She’d rebel against any guidance I provided. If I gave her distance to complete the work independently, she’d come find me to start a rumble. I quickly realized homework would be the death of me.
Bless my friends who homeschool. This mama was not made for the task. There are not enough vineyards in the world to make that a feasible option for us.
And so I look ahead with hopefulness and dread, wishing for the best and bracing myself for fallout. Taking a cue from The Little Blue Engine: “I think I can. I think I can. I think I can.”