Because we have neither typical "school" nor typical "work" in our home, people often ask around this time of year, "Now that the boat's out, what do you guys do all day?" I still am not sure what we do all day; all I know is that the intention of slowing down and catching our breath needs to be consciously chosen because if we continue as is, it will suddenly be April and we will wonder, "What happened to our off-season?"
The truth is, living takes time. Lots of it! It takes time to eat, sleep, get exercise, keep the house clean, and pay the bills. If we are going to eat whole foods, it takes longer. If we are to find our food locally, hang up our laundry, provide our own heat (wood), and educate ourselves in math, science, history, english, and french, it takes longer still. If we are to keep up with our house maintenance after 6 months of neglect, it takes still more. If we are to recycle/repurpose everything from ziplocs to stained clothing....if we are to take an active role in promoting climate solutions....if we are to be part of our church community, our food shelf community, our extended family....if the kids are to have some of their own sports and activities....if we are to prepare the boat for next season...if we are to--wait! Stop!
Which is why, last weekend, we abandoned all projects and took off for Marquette, MI, to spend a rainy Halloween with some homeschooling friends whom we met on our sailing trip last May.
Three days together was apparently not enough for the two Gordon and three Doughty girls, who protested loudly at departure time and took solace in the fact that they may see each other in as few as 400 hours. We returned home, tired on the outside but refreshed on the inside--reminded, once again, that there are other families out there like us, who are beating to their own drum, and coming up with remarkable, sustainable, and totally unique ways to live, right amid mainstream America. It's never easy, and it's never simple as the kids get older, but the rewards are no less and sometimes I think these are the most important homeschooling years of all. Life with teens and pre-teens is intense whether or not your kids are in school. Usually, the retreat from the mainstream is actually a dive into another world, and includes the entire family livelihood, priorities, and lifestyle. Very few homeschooling parents we know are working 9-5 jobs with benefits and pension plans; most are entrepreuners, small business owners, farmers, or otherwise members of this growing "creative class" that is encompassing a huge percentage of our work force. In our good moments I believe we are acting as living examples to our children in how to join this "creative class" in a world where security is shrinking but opportunity is blossoming.
And now that we're back home, what do we do all day? Your guess is as good as mine. There are still bushels of apples in the mudroom, waiting to be dried....