January and February are always a struggle for me. The darkness and cold I welcomed in December just seem endless come January. Without much snow to speak of, theres been precious little to go outside for, according to my boys. My older mourns and curses the weather these days after fastidiously checking every weather site online, searching out any chance of snowfall in our area. It’s pretty grim.
Since I’ve been homeschooling, I tend to see January as a great chance to buckle down and work hard after the excitement and busyness of the holiday season. Unfortunately, I’m the only one of the three of us who view this time of year with hope for productivity. Instead, it seems to be a time to snipe at each other and whine.
Whining and sniping are contagious, of course, and while I won’t point my finger at the first in the house to suffer the ailment, I’ll admit I’ve carried the bug myself for a while. Perhaps it’s the grey sky and cold, but perhaps it’s also a bad case of self-doubt and simple sadness. I’m flying solo this year, formally divorced after 15 years of marriage. And while I’ve been the only parent in the house for almost two years, the finality of the document brings a somber nature to the new year. I’m down, the boys are down, and yet life rolls on.
After the rather sudden initial separation nearly two years back, the boys and I did take it easy. I honestly was just trying to make it through each day, and I know they were struggling, too. My older was 10 then, with a lighter work load. This year, which would be seventh grade (by age), the load is heavier. I feel more pressure, mostly internal, as college approaches. I know. He’s twelve. But soon his work must somehow fit on a transcript, and that’s a bit overwhelming right now.
Part of me wants to drop all the formal work and just spend the rest of the month following their interests (those beyond wielding duct tape swords and stacking the couch cushions into forts). But I just can’t. I can’t get myself to break from the Geometry book that should be done by June because math hanging over the summer has never worked well for us. I won’t let go of the biology course I’m teaching my older and his friend (The class is a weekly highlight for all of us. My older’s required work for it is something else). But primarily, I don’t want this divorce to take any more of our normalcy, and January normalcy is math assignments, essay writing, and classics readings. It’s stolen enough of our lives, and I’d putting my foot down.
So I’m looking for a way to push though this sad, gloomy time without letting everything go, where I fear we’ll wallow only more. For all three of us, our weekly plans (often a bit vague and always flexible) serve as our rudder and compass, steering us through this time of cold, clouds, and sorrow. So we’ll keep slogging though January, finding our way together.