reasons for homeschooling, including some of the things that pushed us towards it when The Apprentice was a preschooler. However, on thinking about it I can honestly say that we started homeschooling because our family doctor didn't deliver babies.
No, I'm not completely crazy and I will explain.
When I was first expecting our Apprentice (now a teenager), we were still newly married and I had never had reason up until then to find myself a family doctor. I think we picked someone out of the phone book, and right from the first visit I was uncomfortable with her. (Doctor: "What can I do for you?" Me: "Well, I think I'm pregnant." Doctor: "Is that a Problem?" It took me a minute to understand what she was asking, and when I did figure it out I was horrified.) Anyway, it turned out that Doctor Friendly could do prenatal checkups but didn't deliver babies, so we would have to go with whoever was on call at the hospital, or hook up with an obstetrician, or something.
We took a hospital tour and were also less than impressed. "This is the triage area." (Thought bubble: Triage? Like on MASH? Come to think of it, the decor kind of reminds me of the army as well.) "Here's where we put you first, then we move you here, then we move you here..." (Thought bubble: Sounds like an assembly line.) "Is there a rocking chair in the labour room?" "Uh...maybe we can find one somewhere..."
Several weeks later, almost too late in the game, we talked with a local midwife and asked if she would come to the hospital with us. It turned out that that wasn't possible due to hospital-midwife red tape at that time (it's changed since then), but that we could have a home birth. We took a collective deep breath and never looked back.
A couple of years later, we realized that what we learned through the homebirth process was much the same as what we needed to know to homeschool.
1. We took responsibility for the decisions that needed to be made. Although the midwife was the birth expert, we said yes or no to tests, we helped make a birth plan, and we were responsible for making the choice to "risk" a home birth.
2. We did it together, the same way Mr. Fixit and I had done a lot of other things. It wasn't just my decision, it was both of us doing our homework and making it happen.
3. When things got tough, we prayed, got help, and survived. There were several tough points before, during and after the Apprentice's birth, which I won't go into in detail here; but we got through it, and we survived all the usual first-time parent jitters plus some. If we could handle that--homeschooling sounded like a snap.
4. We were reassured by the example of others who had homebirths and/or were homeschooling. This was very helpful in countering the naysayers, including a dentist who told me we were taking too big a risk in having a homebirth (while my mouth was full of stuff and I couldn't talk back).
5. We were spurred on by many small, incidental reasons that made sense to us. Around the home birth, we thought of the facts that we liked our own big bathtub (I don't think labouring in the tub was possible at the hospital), that it would be more private and quiet at home (nobody else's babies crying), and that we could take our time, not be on someone else's schedule (and be pushed into having procedures that would speed things up). We also liked the fact that the midwives took a lot of time and talked to us, unlike Dr. Friendly. We felt responsible and capable.
When we considered homeschooling, we thought of small/big things such as Mr. Fixit's frequent shift changes; the fact that the school wasn't very close and that I didn't drive; the idea that our Christian faith could be an integral part of what we were doing; my background and interest in children's books and curriculum (I had already done many things that you do when you homeschool); and the fact that we were already used to being a "threesome," and enjoyed spending time together. We felt responsible and capable.
So I guess I will always be grateful in some way to Dr. Friendly; because if she had delivered babies, we might never have discovered how empowering it was to give birth outside the hospital box; and if we hadn't done that, we might not have jumped into homeschooling with both feet. But she didn't, and we did, and that's that.
Important P.S. This post is not meant, in any way, to criticize those who choose hospital births, any more than it is to criticize those who have honestly considered the alternatives and have chosen public school for their own good reasons. It is simply the process we went through ourselves.