Given the events of the past week, I’ve been thinking a lot about freedom. As I stood in line to vote, a woman with my three daughters in tow, I couldn’t help feeling an overwhelming sense of pride and gratitude. The pride I was feeling stemmed from using my small voice to help make a very big decision. Showing my daughter’s that individual voices matter, that this is what it means to live in a democracy, was perhaps our most valuable lesson of this week. And then, because I was able to be standing there with my children, I felt this immense sense of gratitude towards the ancestral women who fought hard and risked everything to grant us this right.
All this pride and gratitude and democracy made me think about freedom. I love that we live in a country where we have the freedom vote, the freedom to have a say in how this country works, the freedom to have unique and individual opinions and the freedom to vocalize those opinions. Closer to home, I am grateful that I have a husband and a family who are equally tolerant of my often strong, sometimes unpopular opinions. And I feel the freedom in that…I feel the opening that kind of freedom offers within a person and a life.
The issue of freedom has come up a lot in our homeschooling recently as well. We’ve experimented with a few different methods of educating our children at home and what I’ve come to realize is that the way that our learning, our education, can really live and be vibrant is to have the base of that education be freedom. The freedom to choose how and when we learn, the freedom to say no to some things and scream yes to others, the freedom to follow our own yearnings and curiosities…these are critical elements of the lifetime love of learning that we want to establish for our children.
This is the precise reason we chose to forgo sending our children off to school outside the home. Certainly I can think of a hundred ways to spend my weekday hours other than learning alongside my children while many others have that done for them. I’m not saying that one way is better than another. Every child and every family is different and part of freedom is honoring what is best at an individual level. But I am saying that it is a priority in our family that our children have a vibrant, interactive, home based education. And I’m seeing clearly now, after over two years of putting it into practice, that it thrives best in an environment of freedom.
Once again, this freedom fills me with both pride and gratitude. I am proud of my children and their ability and willingness to learn independently. I am proud of myself (yes, myself) for making these hard choices and sacrifices over and over again as we tweak and modify and nestle in. And I am grateful…for absolutely all of it! I am grateful that I have the opportunity to stay at home and educate my children. I am grateful for a loving and supportive husband and extended family. I am grateful that my children want this life for themselves as much as we want it for them. And I am grateful I live in a country, and a state, that acknowledges that parents have the right to decide what is best for their children.
When I look at the things I am most grateful for in this life, I cannot overlook the founding element of freedom within all of them. Not one of these freedoms, these gifts, has come to me without some sort of price paid somehow, somewhere along the continuum of time. A life imbued with freedom is a life wide open to an infinite amount of possibilities. As a symbol of my gratitude, I vow to explore as many of them as I can!