Octopus Testicles

Colossal Octopus by Pierre Denys de Montfort
Colossal Octopus by Pierre Denys de Montfort

Edited May 2019: We were a part of a wonderful Classical Conversations community for the first eight years of our home education journey. Now, due to poor state leadership and questionable corporate business practices, our family has elected to “consciously uncouple” from our association with the organization and we cannot recommend any others get involved at this time. 

I talked myself out of quitting homeschooling again today.

I quit homeschooling about twice a week. This is because my children do not sit obediently at little desks and look up at me with cherubic faces, begging to learn. Instead they do their work sprawled out on the sofa while bugging each other and there’s usually a younger sibling asking me for a snack, a drink, a potty time, etc. while I’m trying to explain the place value of numbers. It’s hectic!

When things get rough I go back to my original post about why we homeschool. Nothing has changed, but I wish this choice were easier! Since I have no compelling reason to challenge our original ideals, I love the curriculum we use with Classical Conversations, and I usually think my kids hung the moon after I’ve had a good night’s sleep, twice a week I tear up my resignation, put my big girl panties on, and stick around.

This week I’ve been analyzing the choice once again.

As you know, recently a car accident killed an acquaintance of ours and her children. Last month another family in our social circle lost their eight-year-old daughter in a boating accident.

I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about mortality, walking through the emotion of grief with these situations… and homeschooling came into play in my internal dialogue.

I’ve never been a “fire and brimstone” type of person – I don’t talk about life change based on the fear factor because I don’t believe we’re called to walk in fear and I also find fear to be a dirty motivator that doesn’t spawn lasting change.

But if, by a horrible circumstance, my children were killed in some way, I would be resentful of every moment I missed. I would hate that I didn’t see them read their first words, that I wasted the opportunity to know them in a moment-by-moment way.

Just this morning I was talking to Dos about Kraken, the mythological giant octopus that sailors of old used as spooky stories. We talked about fiction and myths and about the octopus of today. She thought about it and said:

“Mommy! An Octopus can be as big as the ceiling? Bigger than me?!”

“Yep, very big!” I assured her. It was a proud educational moment.

She got a look of shock on her face and said, “Oh! So I could get died from its mighty testicles?!”

“That’s tentacles, my dear,” I said. Proud moment… destroyed.

I will laugh about octopus testicles for the rest of my life! But if I had been rushing her out the door this morning with her lunch box and school bag… I would have missed it.

I believe our kids are a gift from God that are our responsibility to steward. It’s my job as a mom to satisfy their physical needs of food, housing, clothing, cleanliness. But it’s my privilege as a parent to meet their intellectual and emotional needs so that when the time comes they can be released into this world capable of functioning in a mature, well-versed and useful manner.

There is very little about the role of a mother that is easy. I would many times prefer to be back in my professional life because the lines aren’t so blurry and I’d work with people who already have a skill set as a functioning adult. (And don’t cry when I tell them no or ask me to wipe their behinds.)

But I don’t want to miss this. I don’t want to miss the octopus testicles. I want to be present at more than breakfast and bedtime, to live the process instead of witness only the end of the year performance.

My definition of motherhood may not work for anyone else – and that’s fine because it really only needs to fit me. But, for me, some things are more important than my preference or convenience. I choose attentiveness to those things for as long as this season lasts.

This post was originally published May 17, 2013 and is being recycled as part of the “I’ve Been Around” summer! Hope you enjoyed it and I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments!

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One thought on “Octopus Testicles

  • May 18, 2013 at 1:05 pm

    This is great. Really, truly great. It struck a chord in my mama soul. 🙂 Thanks for sharing your heart.


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