I used to read the Little House series pretty much constantly as child. And I related to Laura so very much...we were SO much alike. She was physically strong, quiet, tomboyish, adventurous, disliked the hustle and bustle of the town and...yeah. She was nothing like me. But Laura Ingalls Wilder had such a powerful way of relating to her readers, particularly young girls in Laura's age group, that she made every girl feel like Laura. It wasn't until I was much older and reading the books again that I realized...I am physically weak, loud, ultra-girly, terrified of horses and town? I love town. Give me town all the way.
So self-perception is a funny thing. It's so easy to see things as we want them to be, rather than the way they are. And when you are one way some of the time, and one way another part of the time, it's even more confusing. I feel like I am two different people, and they could hardly be more different from each other, and they like to pop up at different times.
Kate #1 is diligent, hard-working, and focused. She has tons of energy, and ideas, and loves to implement them. Her zest for life is infectious. But she's a little scared too, because at any second Kate #2 might sweep in and ruin everything. Kate #2 is exhausted, unfocused, and depressed. She gets sick easily, and has trouble concentrating on even small tasks.
Kate #1 makes all of her food from scratch, comes up with great plans for organization, healthy eating, and managing her day, plans outings, fills up her calendar with fun things to do.
Kate #2 can barely take care of herself, let alone the littles ones in her charge. The house falls apart, the kids are left foraging like little street urchins. Fast food is purchased, making her feel even worse. Every plan Kate #1 made, Kate #2 destroys.
Kate #1 likes to pretend that Kate #2 doesn't exist. When Kate #1 is in charge, she makes up her mind that Kate #2 isn't coming around here NO MORE, and that's how she plans. But Kate #2 is a tricky beast.
Nobody likes Kate #2. She's loved, but mostly because people remember Kate #1.
I've been trying to get rid of Kate #2 for a long, long time. But the first thing I had to do was admit that she existed. And that was hard. She's a real elephant in the room, and a white one at that. Expensive to keep up, exhausting, really. Everyone sees her. Everyone wants to pretend that someday she'll just go back to the zoo.
I've tried medication, psychiatrists, doctors, vitamins...I've attempted to start exercising, eating better, de-cluttering my house from all the stuff Kate #2 buys when she's doing retail therapy. Reading my bible. Praying. Kate #1 is good at starting all that stuff. Kate #2 isn't so good at finishing it.
So, I'm attempting to hit the re-set button on my life. I really want to deal with Kate #2 once and for all. I've been to my doctor, had some tests run, and I'm planning to start being way more proactive about my health, emotionally and physically. I've got an appointment coming up with a new psychiatrist, and maybe a new diagnosis.
But facing Kate #2 meant realizing that right now, I'm not doing my best. I've put myself through a lot these last few years. I've had four children, one with emotional problems. My husband spent 3 years in school while I sometimes worked but mostly took care of the kids. At the end, he was working 70 hours a week and going to school while I had a newborn plus 3 others! It was an exhausting time. And I feel like I am at least a year, if not three years, behind where I want to be right now.
My life needs a complete overhaul. If I want to take care of these four amazing, intelligent, wonderful children and my husband who is nothing less than the kindest, most unselfish person I know, then I have to take care of me. I need less stress. I need some time.
I keep thinking "If only there is somewhere I could send my kids for a few hours every day!"
It's called school.
Now mind you, I don't think I have failed at homeschooling. My oldest son is a terrific reader, good at math, and very intelligent and creative. I think, in my own heart, I have proven to myself that you don't have to do things perfectly to raise good, smart, healthy kids. Indeed, they have often thrived with little input from me. And I think that's just fine. I think they'd do wonderfully well no matter where they end up.
But I'm not sure, right now, that I would end up wonderfully. I have dreams. Simple dreams. Being clean and organized. Times of silence. Spending a lot of time writing. Running errands with only two kids instead of four. Spending lots of time alone with my little kids while my older ones benefit from someone else's experience.
Is this a forever change? I don't know. I feel like I am a homeschooler at heart. They are my people. But right now, to take care of me, I need a break. One that will hopefully lead to more structure, more healthful choices, more peace for us all. One that will help me how to deal better with Kate #2.
I feel at peace about this decision, but it's hard. It's such a mainstream decision. And I'm not mainstream. And I don't say that to be disparaging. I'm just...not! It's not who I am. But as much as I long to march to the beat of my own drummer, I have to face facts that sometimes my skills are rusty, my equipment needs replacing and I can't read the music!