Today’s milestone: feeling free

Today felt like a milestone for me. It’s so weird that it was just an ordinary day for everyone else. But for me, it was an achievement.

For the last two years (more, even), I’ve felt frustrated. There’s a massive home-educating community in our part of the country, with things going on every day of the week. Things that I know my kids will love doing. Things that I will love doing with them, or knowing that they are doing. But until now, my job has always got in the way. The week days – when the majority of the groups and workshops and meets are held – have always been off-limits for me, due to my teaching job. It has always felt like the very time of day when I feel like I most want to be with my own children, I am without them, and with other people’s instead. And it has felt increasingly wrong. And incredibly frustrating.

Just under two weeks ago, I worked my last day. And I walked away from my teaching career. That day was also a milestone.

Last week, we headed off for some time away, staying in a caravan on a holiday park just far enough away from home to be a holiday, but not too far away to cost the Earth or have hours of travelling. And we all loved it. But the real magic is happening now we are home…

Today, after two years of missing it, we were finally able to go to one of the home-ed meets that I’ve been wanting to get to. Don’t get me wrong, we have been to home-ed meets and classes before, but it’s been hit and miss finding ones that my kids would enjoy that didn’t clash with my work timetable. And this was one that I had been really really wanting. And so had the kids. It’s a weekly swimming pool session, followed by picnic lunch and play at the park. It doesn’t even sound spectacular in any way. But to me, it is. My Tuesday – previously a workday sandwiched uncomfortably between other work days – suddenly feels free, and fun, and full of friends.

The kids didn’t stop all day. Any of them. They played in the pool, and they learned swimming and water skills from each other as they played. Then they played at the playground, obstacle courses, races, swinging on the swings together, chatting endlessly. Then, wanting some space from the mums and dads, they raced off over the field to the other side of the park, the ball courts, the trees that were waiting to be climbed. And they played for hours. I have no idea what they played. At times, they looked like they were hiding and seeking; at times, big sticks were brandished; at times they looked like they were racing, then wrestling, then tree-climbing. My children were free.

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And for the first time in a long time (although often I was doing little more than sitting nearby, deep in conversations with other mums and dads, or providing a lap to sit on if the kids needed some comfort, or opening and closing lunchboxes), I felt free too. Free to do what I had hoped to be able to do when we first made the decision to home-educate two or three years ago. Free to educate my own children, not everyone else’s. And free to enjoy it.

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