Monday, November 10, 2014

A Homeschooling Journey: Illness, a Baby Girl, and a Move Towards More Relaxed Homeschooling

I wrote this essay several years ago and it is currently posted on a Catholic homeschooling blog.  It gives a little bit of background on the year of my son's diagnosis, so I wanted to share it:

On a Tuesday morning, my oldest son slept on and off for hours at a time.  This was unusual for him.  Around noon he asked me to make him a grilled cheese sandwich.  Before I finished preparing it, he fell asleep once again.

That afternoon my four boys and I climbed into the minivan and drove to the medical center.  My son needed a physical for summer camp and since he appeared to have the flu or maybe something worse, I scheduled an appointment for him.  The pediatrician checked his vital signs and talked to him and seemed satisfied that he was healthy.  I sensed that was not true.  He actually needed to sit down for a couple minute break on the walk into our pediatrician's office from the car.  I asked her to test his urine, because my husband and I were suspecting diabetes.  She agreed it was a good idea to check.  A few minutes later she came back to the room with the grim news that he did indeed have type 1 diabetes and started the procedures for admitting him into the ICU.

That was a sad, sad day.  Our journey with this illness has been challenging and heart times.  However, one small thing stands out in my mind after the fact: my educational philosophy throughout this crisis.

I am embarrassed to admit that while my son lay ill in bed those few days before that dreadful Tuesday afternoon, I sat with him and read his lessons to him so that all three boys would stay on schedule.  No one else remembers this or finds this fact significant.  But I do.  It is one of those decisions I will always regret and also the decision I will always be glad led me to where I am today - on the path to becoming a more relaxed homeschooler.

It didn't even occur to me right away, not until the next fall.  I designed the new school year's schedule with my old educational philosophy in the forefront of my mind.  I bounced from one son to the next all day long, each day, until dinnertime, checking off all the items on our lists.

Then one day I thought to myself, "How am I going to keep up this crazy pace with a new baby come next January or February?" I reread Suzie Andres' book "Homeschooling with Gentleness" and read for the first time her book "A Little Way Of Homeschooling." The Holy Spirit inspired me to make many changes to our daily learning routine.  I followed the lead of one of the ladies I knew online to create a focus for each day.  I bought my oldest son a fun math program to keep his interest in this area alive.  I  also found a gentle writing program through the recommendation of other Catholic homeschoolers.  Learning did become more joyful.

In January, our baby girl arrived.  I believe God sent us her as a gift to help us move past my oldest son's diagnosis.  Up until that time my life was overwhelmingly focused on checking blood sugars, counting carbs, giving insulin shots, testing for ketones, and wondering if I would walk into a room
and find my son unconscious (those ADA DVDs for type 1 diabetics are more upsetting than helpful).  Preparing for and taking care of a baby actually eased the stress of taking care of my son.

I am still on my homeschooling journey.  However, I hope by trusting God, I will gently guide my children to a lifestyle of loving God and loving learning - my goals from the beginning.

1 comment:

  1. I totally understand that guilty feeling because you didn't notice soon enough--even if not all the signs were there. Last year at this time, my son was sick, seemingly with the same strep-throat-type virus his older sister had a week or so earlier. She kicked it off; he did not. 4 doctor visits later, we insisted on blood work (thinking he had mono!) The next morning at 6 AM the blood work came back and the doctor called our house and sent us right to the ER, the day before Thanksgiving.
    It shook us deeply.
    But don't regret that you tried to keep up his schoolwork. I stopped at my son's school a couple of times during his illness to pick up assignments for him.
    You were just trying to do the best you could as your child's parent AND teacher. One of those by itself is a huge deal, and you have chosen both.