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How did I get here?

When I was in college, the Talking Heads song Once in a Lifetime was popular with students. One of my friends, I vaguely remember, set an entire room full of test-taking students into guffaws by calling out, apropos of nothing, “This is not my beautiful pencil!”

But the part of the song that’s relevant today goes like this:

“And you may find yourself living in a shotgun shack
And you may find yourself in another part of the world
And you may find yourself behind the wheel of a large automobile
And you may find yourself in a beautiful house, with a beautiful wife
And you may ask yourself: Well… How did I get here?”

Well… How did I get here?

At the time I heard that song, I was young and rebellious. I listened to dark music (I actually didn’t own any Talking Heads because it wasn’t quite depressing enough) and wore rather outlandish clothing. I dyed my hair various shades that could be described as blood red to putrid purple. My friends called me Siouxsie after my online handle (this was the strange time before the Internet, where I would go to a terminal room and log on to We called ourselves “death rockers,” the people now known to the world as “goths.” Our perhaps most unfortunately famous counterparts were the boys at Columbine.

These days, I know plenty of moms, especially homeschoolers, who will tell me, “This is what I always wanted to do with my life.” They always wanted to be moms, and everything else they did was leading up to that time.

One mom told me that from when she was a child, she planned to homeschool her kids!

I have to say that I’m fantastically envious of anyone who can be so certain about anything. I am still not certain about what color I want my hair to be, even, though putrid purple is out of the running these days.

I don’t know if moms like me are in the majority or the minority. It’s sort of the third rail of parenting: the topic we can’t really talk about. Once you have brought these beings into the world and you are responsible for them, it’s not terribly helpful to think of where else you might want to be, what else you might want to be doing. In fact, spending too much time thinking like that can cause serious ruptures in the parent-child continuum we call “family.”

It’s best not to think of it at all.

But since I’m on the subject…

Last I remember I was a still-rebellious, though more naturally-colored-haired adult, striving to be a writer, making money by teaching and doing graphic design. I don’t remember ever signing up for being a stay-at-home homeschooling super-mom. In fact, if someone had shown me a crystal ball into the future, I probably would have smashed the darn thing and gone back to my notebook.

These days, I don’t even bother to carry my writer’s notebook anymore. No time to write. Too many nosy kids wanting to know what I’m writing.

I know other moms like me. We sometimes get to shout a few helpful words to each other across a room full of ebullient kids. Or we end up at the same homeschooling support meeting, sighing as another mom says, her eyes sparkling, “I always wanted to be a homeschooling mom!”

But I wonder how many of us really know how we got here. Whether for us this was due to choice or just circumstance. And now that we’re here, how do we make the most of it? Can we even bear to think, “What if?” Can we dare to think, “Maybe once they’re on their own…” or even, “It’ll be easier when they’re teenagers.”

It’s just enough to get through the day feeling like, perhaps, we’ve done a good enough job for today. Tomorrow is simply too exhausting to think about.

OK, here goes: I did a good enough job, for today. Tomorrow, who knows?

Posted in Culture, Homeschooling, Parenting.

3 Responses

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  1. Yvette says

    Well It’s nice to know finally that I am not the loner Mom who was once dark and never thought of being a Mom and lashed out at the term “Family”. The one thing in my life that I treasure so deeply within my veins and pumping heart today in my life! Funny how it all works out! And how did I get to be so lucky on this planet! I don’t think it has anything to do with the fact that I ever deserved to have such wonderful beings in my life.

  2. Linda says

    Wow! And I thought I was the only would be writer-turned-homeschooling-mom who wondered how I came to be where I am. I never thought I would even be a mom, and I certainly never thought I would homeschool, and yet, here I am. And knowing that if I don’t move faster, I’m going to get left in th dust by my child. Thanks for reminding me to pat myself on the back, if only momentarily, before rejoining the race!
    Just trying to keep fast-paced, multi-tasking, visual learner!

    • Suki says

      Apparently, we’re some sort of tribe. However, our tribe is notable for its apparent inability to get together in a room where we can talk and make it through an entire sentence and not be interrupted. In fact, our tribe worships a deity who gets out entire *paragraphs* of thought without being interrupted…

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