Chaos and I are good friends. Ok, maybe not good friends at all, but we do go way back. I no longer have any enmity towards Chaos, although I once thought that she needed to know her place.
Yes, I completely believe that Chaos is a woman, much like a meddling mother in law- not my mother in law, of course, I’ve been blessed to be able to say that honestly. But not Chaos, no she’s the stuff other wives warn you about. Chaos enters my life from time to time without warning, rearranges everything she sees, stays to chat for a while and then leaves before I can speak my mind. Whenever she surfaces I hold on tight and hold my breath. I know she won’t be here long and often times I end up gaining something of immeasurable worth out of each visit, but each and every one of those visits are hard and some of them are downright painful!
After my last
rant post I had a great “come to Jesus” talk with one of my mentors and she helped put things into perspective for me… which I desperately needed. I had planned on writing up a post that discussed the need for finding a great mentor to slap you when you get emotionally bogged down within the confines of your own head when my vision went wonky, I started seeing double and having light sensitivities. The vision problems caused migraines and I could barely make it through each day with all four kids fed and safe, let alone write a blog post. After two months of waiting for referrals and doctor appointments I was finally seen by an Opthomalogist at a regular appointment. He took one look at my eyes and walked me to the Neurology department, they took one look at me and admitted me to the hospital.
Chaos found her place. For two months we couldn’t live life as normal, after a week in the hospital and multiple tests the doctors diagnosed me and sent me home with medicine (I’m good now, so, YAY!) and over the course of the next week I couldn’t do anything but heal from all of the tests. That was followed by a series of family visitors and even less routine. All in all it ended up being three months of no routine. Learning was still happening here and there so I can’t say that we were not really on vacation either. Through it all we somehow managed to keep moving forward, even though craziness and unpredictability surrounded us. Until yesterday.
I don’t know what triggered the massive cold war but somehow it ended up with the Adults vs the Children in a massive passive aggressive battle of the wills. Remember, we are unschoolers, I don’t assign schoolwork, I don’t force subjects to be learned and I always respect the choices and interests of our children. However, we are also a family that lives and works in the same space and so we have guidelines that must be kept in order to keep the peace within the household. When it comes to school we have state guidelines that we have to meet and we need to show proof that we are doing this regularly. Our compromise has been that each child will do three written pages in a notebook per week. 3 pages a WEEK! They have no clue how easy they have it.
In the midst of the Chaos that permeated our lives over the last three months we slacked and only ended up doing 3 pages every two to three weeks. We did more screen based learning than normal, zero field trips (I couldn’t drive at all and the sun hurt my eyes) and we did next to no chores. When I told them earlier this week, “Now that I’m better it’s time that we get back into a routine” and they responded with smiles I really did think this would be an easy transition. I was so wrong.
Chaos had entered our lives and rearranged our priorities. Every aspect of our lives had been touched without even realizing just how much of an impact this change had on us all. Lackadaisical attitudes coupled with a lack of ability to focus, loss of patience, and clashing over excitabilities all combined into a perfect storm. This is not the first Cold War we have endured at the hands of the meddlesome Chaos, nor will it be our last.
In our household letting go of our unschooling philosophy for a short while allows us to reset boundaries and rules. We need an intense, but short, period of time filled with structure, discipline and consistency in order to reacquaint our whole family to a system where coexistence can occur. Rules and guidelines are set in place and strictly adhered to so that together we can recreate a rhythm that works for us. The same can be said for our school environment. A more traditional and structured approach is needed after periods of uncertainty in order to re-establish a workable freedom that doesn’t overwhelm my little learners. I call this time our rehabilitation, my husband calls it bootcamp but for our children it is indispensable.
After the emotional rollercoaster that deeply effected each of them with my health issues, hospital stay and recovery, the children needed something secure to act as a foundation. I have always been the constant for them. Through deployments, cross country moves, TAD/TDY and every other up and down we have lived through, at the hands of our fluid military lives, Mommy has always been the constant, unwavering center that held everything together. This time when Chaos visited, she shook us to our foundation, and now we are rebuilding the life we have all come to love.
Maybe, Chaos is an old friend. She teaches me lessons I’m too stubborn to teach myself. She loves me enough not to let me skate through life unchanged. Chaos grows my “Grit,” my ability to fall down and bounce back up. Chaos is just one of many tools that I need to help shape me into the leader, adult and person I want to be. I would like to think that how I welcome Chaos is not nearly as important as what I do once she leaves. When Chaos is in town I just have to tread water until she leaves, but after, after is when I have to really keep moving forward. It’s so easy to get stuck just treading water. The hard work always comes after Chaos. The hard work is swimming back to land.