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Vignette 37/52. Part One: HELP.

“But grace can be the experience of a second wind, when even though what you want is clarity and resolution, what you get is stamina and poignancy and the strength to hang on.”

― Anne Lamott, Help Thanks Wow: The Three Essential Prayers

Anne Lamott is one of my favourite writers. She wrote a book about her three types of prayers – help, thanks, and wow.

When I am so mad at the people I love, I try to force one of these as a stopper to the volcanic lava flow projecting at anyone in a 100 metre radius.

I relied on these prayers this year to give me strength as I carried the weight of supporting multiple families, my exhausted yet persistent guides I worked alongside with, and my own family’s feelings of safety and love.

As I prayed “help,” I would often think of the beginnings of my journey in homeschooling.

Today I want to specifically acknowledge key people on this epic voyage for the last decade. My allies and mentors. My comrades and cohorts. My people who helped me slay dragons of doubt and who through tea and knitting, helped me stay the course. My gang of rebels and royalty, who like Glenda the Good Witch, pointed out that I always had the treasure within me.

Homeschooling never crossed my mind until two good friends jumped our collective ship – the alternative school we all worked so hard to help start.

Help.

In the beginning, I had no idea if I wanted to do this but there is a short list of people who took me by the hand to cross the threshold into this supernatural world of homeschooling. My own hero’s journey of sorts.

Two people in particular were Junyee and Lara. Their kids had been in the same alternative school as two of my kids. There was something mystical about this decision. Their disappearance made me wonder what magical world did they travel to?

Junyee was the first to walk me through her decision and the philosophy behind it. She led me to many resources and books to read for myself. Lara also was instrumental in guiding me through the process. She shared with everything with me. I secretly wanted to be her best friend before we officially met and then my wish came true.

When the student is ready, the teacher appears.

I joined all the Yahoo groups – Unschooling Canada, Ms Marsha’s Waldorf Group, Toronto Homeschoolers.

Help also came with the following blogs:
Soulemama
Simple Homeschool
Rhythm of the Home – (the website shut down a long time…there are others out there with this name but not the one that carried me.)

Homeschool groups helped sustain this journey. The value of our group that met consistently, over six years, was beyond my expectations. We became accountable to each other in the most difficult and most rewarding ways.

A huge thanks to Lara, Brooke, Lynn, Falon, Ama, and Lorraine. Without these ladies, my children would not have had the magical childhood that they did – not because of what we did, but because of how they contributed to my own growth.

When we moved to Costa Rica, it was one of the most difficult goodbyes that our family had to make, just as difficult as saying goodbye to our family because they were our family.

We raised our children together. We laughed and cried. We encouraged one another. We disagreed. We made amends. We went on field trips and camping trips. Our group of kids ranged from baby to teen and they all hung out together. We taught each other’s children. We hugged each other’s children. We disciplined each other’s children.

As I sit in the position of building relationships again in a completely different community model, I think of our old picnic blanket days. I think of the emergency texts requesting a phone call. I think of them holding my hand as I was the first to have a teenager.

Growing up with a mother who did everything on her own, I had trouble asking for help so these women showered it on me whether I liked it or not. I learned to trust this circle of women before I even knew how to trust myself.

Now I am better at asking for help – from God, from my husband, from my kids, from my friends and my family, and even from the stranger that helps me carry the groceries.

When I ask for help, I receive “the grace of a second wind” as Anne Lamott says. And my kids watch as I learn to lean into the gift of being human.

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