Tuesday, January 05, 2010

Bits and Pieces of Our Twelve Days of Christmas

It's Twelfth Night!  (And don't forget that St. Lucia bread makes a delicious King's Cake.)

And, although we celebrated the Solemnity of the Epiphany at Mass on Sunday, since tomorrow is the actual date of the Epiphany, tomorrow is the day we'll celebrate again here (i.e., continue to eat celebratory amounts of delicious foods before we decide to give it up for ordinary amounts in ordinary time.)

We've been living in a sort of suspended animation during these Twelve Days of Christmas -- relaxing, and spending family time together. Real life starts again for Atticus today as he heads back to school, and it will come soon enough for the rest of us. But, in the meantime, we've taken these Twelve Days seriously.

I even swatted my children away a number of times while I caught up on some reading. Which reminded me of this past post, which I should have rerun earlier in the Christmas break, but it's never too late for such a reminder.

Happy Twelfth Night!


(from December, 2007):

I've been on vacation from a lot of things, including blogging.

Christmas break is like that.

There's been a lot going on: the kids had a great time at the birthday party of a friend and had an equally great time at a church youth group party, which included going to see National Treasure 2. They went sledding with Atticus and built gingerbread houses with me.

And I've fit in a fair amount of reading (and will be back later with some notes on what I've read.)

But for now, I want to quickly address a little issue we homeschooling mothers sometimes struggle with:

Benign neglect.

Faith, at Dumb Ox Academy, got me thinking about this. Perhaps, a better phrase would be "masterly inactivity" (sounds a little nicer and more deliberate, doesn't it?)

We homeschooling moms are with our kids quite a bit. A lot. And that's a great thing. It's what allows us to pursue our vision of education, to grow closer to our kids, to share ideas and interests and fun.

But, it also sets us up, at times, for guilt. Because, when you're used to being with your kids all the time, you can start to feel a bit guilty if you're not with them, or if you're in the same house, but not fully "present" to them.

I maintain that a bit of masterly inactivity and benign neglect are a good thing.

As I said in a comment to Faith:
As homeschooling moms, we are with our children nearly *all* the time. It’s okay to take periods (like Christmas break) to be “selfish” because it isn’t really selfishness. It’s recharge time. And we need it. As your kids have shown you, they’ll be fine!

I tend to shoo my kids away fairly frequently during Christmas vacation, with a “Not now … I’m reading.”
Mothers need breaks, too. And, learning to entertain oneself without a plan, a schedule, or structure is a necessary life skill for a child.

If you want, record it in your best education-ese on your list of homeschooling accomplishments for 2007:

"Children learned the value of independently chosen and executed pursuits."

Then lose the guilt.

It's Christmas break.

Now, go away.

I'm reading.


Jennifer said...

Brilliant Karen. I have that guilt all the time. Sometimes I think if I did work outside the home I'd spend more real time with my children. Alas, I can't think that way. It is a real blessing to have so much time with them and I have to try not to take it for granted.
And can I tell you I thought January 6th was waaaay at the end of the week - not tomorrow? I have to make pizzelles for breakfast tomorrow and get some little treats out. Yikes.

Lynch Family said...

I like the term "benevolent b=neglect"--makes it sound like we have a plan!

Liz said...

It's positively amazing how much my kids learned when I wasn't looking. I can guarantee you that I wasn't cleaning the house at those times. I undoubtedly had my nose stuck in a book. Christmas breaks are wonderful inventions. They were so wonderful that we always started ours at the beginning of Advent.