Friday, May 11, 2007

A Recovering Type-A Mom

by Lisa L. Heston

When given the opportunity to share something on, my first thought was that I did not have anything to share. You see, I don’t really have any hobbies; I don’t do crafts; reading is not my forte’; I don’t make things for my kids (besides meals); and I really am not interested in beginning anything new. My life is packed with things to do. I have always been a Type-A person. I like lists. I like to organize, schedule, and analyze. I like to be in control – and in our family I had plenty of opportunity to do just that; this leads me to my story.

Six years ago I began home schooling with visions of grandeur. I knew that the life I had chosen for my family was going to be packed with educational experiences every day. It wasn’t long before I found that the structured curriculum sets were wonderful for me, but torturous for my sons. I began to lose control and panicked. There I was a Type-A, highly organized, completely scheduled woman with not a clue of what to do. I was convinced that it was because I hadn’t planned or scheduled enough. What was I to think when all of the home schooling moms around me were perfectly happy with their educational choices?

I began to explore alternatives to the way I was “schooling” my children and ran across unschooling. The sound of freedom resonated with me but also scared me to death. It took two years of struggling with my boys until I finally changed direction and began unschooling. It turns out that unschooling has been just as valuable a journey for me as it has been for them.

When I began this journey I didn't trust myself. I felt if I trusted, I would be hurt or disappointed. In learning to trust my children I began to allow myself to trust others. I had to relinquish control of a lot of things to be able to unschool. I needed to allow my children to choose for themselves instead of telling them what to do. Trust has given me the courage to pursue things I never thought possible. I am able to discuss my ideas and dreams in large groups without fear. I can even take risks based on others opinions. I can now choose to participate in life without a set of lists to plan out my future.

When I was busy making lists all of the time, I had very little joy. I was not fun to be around because my focus was on completing tasks. My friendships have gotten deeper and more significant to me since I have let go of the task master in myself. I have a new motto to live by: “Life before lists!” This motto has allowed me to relax and slow down to smell the flowers; enjoy some time with a friend; or take some pictures in nature. It has taught me that I don’t have to know all of the answers – I just need to know how to help find them. It has let me off the hook of perfection and into a life of relationships.

Relationships are important to me now. It is enjoyable to have coffee with a friend just to chat. I no longer worry about the tasks that I am not completing. I have become a better friend while unschooling my children as I watch them communicate with their friends. I have learned that friends are important in life because without them all that I would have is tasks. When I allow myself to be with friends it reminds me that I am valued.

Unschooling is most significant in that it has given me the ability to “be cool with me”. I still don’t have hobbies. If I had to decide what my hobby is, it would be spending my time serving others. It is hard to quantify, but that is who I am. I don’t have anything tangible that I can show people, but it offers me a deep sense of satisfaction. I know that life is a long journey and that at times I will become that type-A, list focused, organized, driven woman. But I know now that I have a choice about how I choose to live. Unschooling has grown me into a better friend and person. Even though I am still a little type A ;-)

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