I was surprised to find that when I read I was admitted to UCSB’s East Asian Studies MA Program I suddenly felt a surge of excitement and relief like a window had been thrown open. I was surprised to feel this way, because the whole week before I read this, my thoughts had been developing so that I felt ready to decide not to go back to school. Now I wonder how much that thought process had been based on the idea, “I’m not going to get in, and even if I did I wouldn’t be able to do it.”
However, I gained some important insights as I was becoming more and more comfortable with the idea of being a full-time mother for years. The vision I saw of immersing myself in homeschooling Isabelle, while pursuing my own projects and studies was a worthwhile, beautiful vision. It was a slower life in which I was able to watch every step Isabelle takes, and focus my interests and reflections on the experience of teaching her. I saw how my outlets for creativity, community, and growth could legitimately center around the home in a fulfilling way.
Now with a little boost in confidence and pride from receiving an acceptance letter, I am returning to the vision I had a few months ago when I was applying to schools. At that time I narrowed my list down to three programs, because I realized I wasn’t ready for a PhD, and I wasn’t necessarily ready to juggle grad school and Isabelle. However, the picture has filled out since then. Christopher’s mother will be living us wherever we are, and she will provide the kind of guidance and help that I do not have here. In addition, while I have gotten much better at managing my time here because I value all of my free time so much more, I also know that I usually still working below the activity and energy level that I am capable of.
I have realized how accustomed I have become to thinking of Isabelle as a family member, not just someone I have to take care of. In this light, I want her to fit into my life, but I have known for a long time now, she cannot be my life. I am committed to homeschooling her, but my radical vision of homeschooling allows for many different possibilities in how our life is set up, because life is school. So while Isabelle will always come first for me, and I will not compromise on my standards of raising her, I am thinking now is the time for me to go down this path that I opened up for myself. Why choose between two different paths — homeschooling Isabelle and schooling myself — when I can probably make both work well together with the help of my family?