Mommy Means it – Who?

mommymeansitFBAre you wondering who the heck I am to have a blog? Me too. Well, kind of. Truth be told, I wish every human being in the world had a blog. I love the stories of ordinary people because, once I hear the stories, I realize there are no truly ordinary people. We are, each of us, something pretty special.

I also think that parents should share more about how we are doing things. I know that there is a lot of criticism out their about so-called “mom blogs”. If you just aren’t into the mom-blogs, please, by all means, head on over to the blogs that DO interest you. But I appreciate learning how other parents are handling this whole parenting adventure.

My name is Paula Fitzgibbons. I started this blog in 2007, officially to chronicle our journey of home learning. Unofficially, it assuaged my guilt over my embarrassing collection of scrapbooking supplies and my pathetic lack of completed scrapbooks.

I had an excuse. Between the summer of 2003 and the summer of 2004, in just 11 months, my husband and I became parents to three wonderful and freakishly energetic children of three different ages. My eldest two, a sister and brother from Haiti, joined our family through adoption as a pre-schooler (in age) and toddler respectively. Eleven months later, I gave birth to their little sister. Like any good set of labor pains, I can scarcely remember much of it. It is, therefore, a very good thing I started a blog.

As our children rapidly approached the ages of schooling, my husband, whom I call HotNerd for the purposes of this blog, revisited an idea he’d once before sprung on me: homeschooling.

Truthfully, when HotNerd had first proposed the idea of homeschooling, I suggested he would have to ask his second wife to homeschool THEIR kids because I had no intentions of ever doing it.  I had not had a lot of exposure to homeschoolers, but what little I had was punctuated by a worldview with which I do not feel comfortable.  HotNerd, on the other hand, was working at the time with a young man who had homeschooled most of his childhood. He  was impressed with this young man’s intelligence, but what really attracted him was how easily he was able to relate to anyone and everyone from every walk of life.

Still, I resisted.  We didn’t yet have children, but I felt pretty secure in my desire to support the public school system and affect change in institutional education from the inside. I also had a full-time call as a Lutheran Pastor and loved my job.  Staying home with my kids was the furthest thing from my mind, but living on my income alone would not have been prudent. HotNerd made way more money than me.  If anyone were to stay home, it would have to be me. And I didn’t want to.

A few years later, I was sitting in a the Haitian orphanage, visiting the children we would one day adopt, when it hit me that our eldest might be the age to start school when the adoption was final. I was trying desperately to communicate with my daughter and son, who spoke Kreyol (or nothing at all in the case of my son).  A few yards away, some of the caregivers were returning from the well, 5 gallon buckets filled with water perched on their heads with the apparent ease of donning a baseball cap.  Near the 8′ by 8′ cement brick room that had become our temporary home stood a little girl of no more than five peeling tart grapefruits with a machete like she’d done it all her life.  On the other side of the courtyard, several women were squatting to start the fire for dinner.  I paused briefly to measure the depth of change that would soon occur in the lives of my children. We would be taking them away from all the charms,  securities, strengths, and traditions of their own culture.

By the time the kids come home, my daughter was just 2 years from kindergarten.  Two years did not seem long enough to mourn losses, learn a whole new culture, make up for lost time, and develop a secure bond. “Maybe,” I thought, “We could homeschool until first grade.”

So we did.   As it turned out, Home Learning, as I prefer to call it, just fit for us.  It was exactly what we needed as a family.   Every year we re-evaluate how we feel about homeschooling. So far, we’ve remianed primarily home learners, though with co-ops or charter schools.

Shortly after beginning home learning, we moved from the suburbs of Chicago to an apartment right on Lake Michigan; thus the original title of the blog: Adventures in Lakeschooling.

Now, many years later, we are living in Southern California.

Shortly after moving to California, it became clear to me, right around the time that my blog and I were experiencing our seven year itch, that I was as woefully pathetic at blogging as I had been at scrapbooking. Adventures in Lakeschooling was disorganized, over-loaded with topics that didn’t make much sense on a home learning blog, and as old fashioned as a blog could be. As I told my son when he asked why I was spending so much time trying to re-vamp the blog, it was like a 1976 Pinto in a world of contemporary Porches.

I moved Adventures in Lakeschooling to Mommy Means It both to give it new life and to expand its scope. There is so much that we adults need to accomplish to prepare this world for our children. It is not the world in which the aforementioned 1978 Pinto resided.

I am kept awake at night by a plethora of big issues — like adoption reform, human trafficking, racism, and sexism. I am sure we all have our gigantic concerns that gnaw at us. As overwhelming as it may seem, I think we can affect change. At the very least, I think if we pay attention, we can begin it for our children. And they will carry the torch for their own children. Whether our contribution is to bring laughter to the world, change its laws, maintain its infrastructure, or make it as pretty as can be, every one of us has a job to do. I hope that this blog will offer up some of that much-needed humor alongside a healthy dose of inspiration and consideration.

You can read more about my family and our adoption journey here.