Thursday, February 4, 2016

school's in

It might just be impossible to write the blog post I want to write this morning.

It's Thursday, Bren is probably on his way home from driving the girls to school and I'm alone at the kitchen table in what would be a silent house but for the hummmmm of the dehydrator. All week I've been thinking about how to tell this story from my perspective. How to tell of the early days of starting a new school but without giving any of the girls' personal feelings or anecdotes away.

A while ago, when my girls were not so little anymore, it occurred to me that I have to keep them out of this blog to respect their privacy and their rights to tell their own tales and develop into their own people. Mostly I think I have succeeded although there have been times when we've had to workshop certain issues as a family and come up with solutions that suit everyone. If I stick to my thoughts and feelings and happenings then generally I am safe.

Although I do want to keep to these self imposed rules, I must admit that the censorship means that I am mostly telling less than half of the story and leaving out the best bits.

I long to tell the truth about our experience of parenting adolescents and teens. I'd love to talk about the struggles, the solutions, the failures and the joys. These years have challenged me way beyond the newborn years, they have thrilled me, terrified me, made me scream, and laugh and feel more full of love than I ever thought possible. Maybe if you've been visiting Foxs Lane for a while you've read some of this between the lines. Maybe you have no idea what I'm talking about. I wish I could document these years more openly and feel that cathartic feeling that pressing publish on a meaty post brings. I wish I could read your feed back and know that you're going through it too, or that you remember when you did, or offer me advice, or reading material.

But while I have chosen to have a public profile, while I have chosen to air my dirty laundry for anyone to see, they have not decided the same.

So the story of starting a new high school 50 minutes away from here, a school that until two days ago didn't exist, is told from the mother's perspective only. I'll use broad sweeping statements and tell little bits of the story but if you read between the lines you'll notice the beginnings of something sparkley.

So far the commute has been long but easily doable between the six of us. The different starting and finishing times feels annoying but eventually will surely become valuable social time or homework time. The fact that there is homework assigned still doesn't make sense to me. I'd much prefer them to work outside on the farm or play with their sisters or friends after a day spent in classrooms. But they are enjoying the introductions to their subjects and looking forward to the benefits that a creative arts based school can provide.

Socially, my sweet friend Cath put it best when she described it as turning up at the best party ever - but alone. But knowing my girls, they won't be the new girls for long.

So I guess that's it. Day three and my shoulders are starting to relax and my stress headache is disappearing. It's still early days but I'm feeling a little bit optimistic in our decision.

I know from my limited experience parenting adolescents that there is no such thing as a smooth ride. That there will be bumps and skids and headwinds. I'm just hoping that our girls feel creatively fulfilled. That they feel included and challenged and empowered and educated. I hope they walk out of class sometimes feeling like they are buzzing with the excitement of new knowledge and the big wide world opening up to them. That they feel empowered to change their minds and then change them back again. I hope they feel inspired to go to places they've never been and to stay up late at night reading everything they can about a certain subject. I hope they want to go to school most mornings. I hope they make strong, life long friends.

And I hope we can maintain some sort of Jarrah/Indi/Pepper/Kate/Bren/farm/home/community balance.

I have so many hopes.

Love Kate


  1. I have no advice to offer or own story to compare it to as I am not a mother, but I just wanted to say that I think it's wonderful that you respect your daughter's space and privacy even though you'd like to write more about it. Not everyone would do (as I have seen).

    I'm sure you'll all settle in soon enough and everything will become ingrained as part of the normal routine.

    Sarah x

  2. Starting new schools is always hard, but i am sure you and your family will cope. I don't really publish anything about my children on my blog, the odd photo of them from behind or the occasional comment they make. I guess I feel the blog is my space to be me - the cook, sewer,reader, gardener - not a mum all the time.

  3. I just wanted to let you youngest son is special needs and goes to a school 40-50kms away, every morning gage gets on a taxi and my oldest and I have a 40minute wait until he can go to school 25kms away. This happens in the afternoon as well. I have found that once the routine kicks in this time is sacred. It's such a beautiful opportunity to spend some time with my oldest and even if he is more interested in doing something than speaking to me, there is magic in that (forced- as we are in the car) downtime. It's a great time to just breathe

  4. You're doing a GREAT job!
    Reading between the lines we may be travelling a similar path re:teen girls - for us the key has been focus on and never lose sight of the person you know your child is and can be…. while continually steering the ship away from the rocks…no matter what it takes.
    There's been times when we lost sight of her amidst the tidal waves of inappropriate behaviour and in some of the darkest times I didn't think she'd survive however for the first time in 4yrs my now 15yr old is as excited about her future as we have always been…and I'm reminded of that little girl with so much potential who would race from her bedroom every morning announcing to whoever was within ear shot "this is the best day of my life!".
    It's a tricky business trying to keep all the balls in the air without any smacking loved ones in the head so thanks for the opportunity to share a little Kate….hope it helps.
    Jody x

  5. Oh Kate...this whole schooling thing is not easy is it? You are so incredibly wise with regards to your daughters and life in general, it makes me think about my parenting. The new school your girls are attending sounds fascinating. Today is day 1 of changes to our schooling as well. Annabelle's first day ever on a school bus for a fairly lengthy commute. George at home continuing distance education with me. My husband running two farms in between all of that. It all feels very different but on-wards we march! xx

  6. I had teenagers almost 20 years ago,seems like yesterday, one of them never attended public school after the 3rd grade, one went part home, part public and regrets some decisions he made in high school, and the first child totally went to the public schools. and now, they are all three fabulous responsible kind ambitious adults. It sounds as though you really have a grasp of all that is important about your children, their lives and privacy and everything and they are going to be wonderful people as a result.

  7. I completely understand why you can only tell your side of stories. If your girls are anything like my boys they'd be horrified & angry to have their lives written about.

    As a mum of teens ( & toddlers) I do sometimes wish I had more friends who were parenting teens to chat with or even blogs to read about these teen years because I agree, they are MUCH harder to navigate than the newborn times. Reading your lines, and in between them too, I feel like you are doing a great job raising your girls. It always sounds like an amazing way to raise kids the way you guys do around your farm life. Sure, it might change a little with your new routine but I think it'll still be as good as ever.

  8. I know exactly how you feel, I've chosen to blog but my two daughters and my husband haven't. There so much more I could include, the highs and lows of parenting adolescence, and parenting children who have a very diferent set of needs to most children. I respect their privacy so there's a lot that has to be kept hidden. It's a shame really as I'm sure my struggles and triumphs would help others too. But we chose to blog, not them. I hope the new transitions go are bringing up, from what I can see, three gorgeous, independent, and creative girls :) xxx

  9. I have zero advice because my oldest is not yet 8! But I have been following Talking Teens with Jo Bainbridge on Facebook and I find it all kinds of interesting. Maybe you will too!

  10. I know how you feel my eldest started high school this year and the transition has been somewhat trying but wonderful too as she finds new interests and friends so the up down that she is feeling has been echoed through the rest of the house (hope that makes sense!?) I hope your girls and you find your feet soon xx

  11. ooooh I think I know where your girls are going!! It looks like a really interesting place, I have been reading up on it myself. I really look forward to 'inferring' how it is going! I love to hear peoples stories when they are committed to an educational philosophy and are willing to put the hard yards (or long drives) into it. Thanks for sharing!

  12. I appreciate so much that you respect and protect your children's privacy on your blog. Best wishes, I hope school goes well for your family.

  13. May these new times become as loved and precious as the times they have memories of in their pasts. Change is hard for all of us and yet without it progress is not possible. Thank you for keeping their privacy just that.

  14. You are so wise to put your daughters needs and wishes before your own and keeping their stories private. An amazing lady who fostered many, many children and made a difference to a lot of young lives once told me that children deserved to be loved, kept safe and secure but encouraged to make their way confidently in the world. Seems to me you are doing just that.

  15. Hello, Kate. I have a new blog and I have a young boy. It's a very difficult decision as to where one draws the line between what to share publicly and what to keep private within the confines of one's family. I think it's important to have a line though and to understand why it's there.

  16. Beautiful girls! Those teen years are most definitely the hardest. As long as we their parents do our very best and put their needs above our own things find a way of working out for the best. Even if it doesn't seem so at the time. May the days, weeks and years ahead go as smooth as possible.

  17. You and Ben should both be very proud Kate. You're raising three gorgeous, holistic young women who will have much to offer the world in terms of sustainability and creativity. Congratulations. PS. Try not to fret the small stuff. Good health and loving relationships are what matters.

  18. I really resonate with the challenge of grappling with parenting teenagers and needing support around it, yet respecting their privacy. I don't have a blog, but I feel this even when speaking with my teenagers' friends' parents. Since my kids were babies I have been facilitating mothers groups for mothers of babies and toddlers. Now I just wish we could have the same for mothers of teenagers but I can't quite see how to pull it off for this very reason. My son just started a new school this year too, and I feel optimistic yet terrified. It means big changes for him and it feels like a huge letting go for me. BTW I believe you and I were in a pre-natal group with each other right at the very start of our mothering journeys 16 years ago so I am enjoying seeing where you are at now. Xo

  19. Oh, who are these impossibly tall and absolutely magnificent young women? They can't be those little girlies you've shared with us all of these years! So grown, so fast! (And yes, I'm a regular reader.) Huzzah for a new rhythm to dance to in your life. I hope you find the groove soon.

  20. Hope you are all doing ok. My feedly list is shouting your absence at me and I've been thinking so much about your recent changes and huge travel commitments and the need to adapt. Ah the one constant, the need to adapt! :) Kia Kaha (have strength - I don't believe in luck, so I use this beautiful Maori phrase as a blessing instead), blessings of love and laughter to you all.

  21. I wish you well as I can totally relate to the feelings you have described. One of my 'children' survived to reach the other side of the teenage years and another is in the early teens. I have enjoyed life with teenagers even though it isn't always easy. It can be maddening, exasperating and downright worrying! Most of the time I revelled in the growing independence of my offspring both in deeds and thought. The lively discussion and debate around the dinnertable were joyous moments savoured as they each discover themelves and their place in the world. Togetherness. As the older ones spread their wings, there are fewer opportunities to have everyone home all at once for the evening meal. Whenever things became very difficult I reminded myself that "teenagers are like toddlers except bigger than you" - and just like toddlers, when teenagers act out, it is usually a need for extra loving and attention or a new developmental stage. Careful thought, analysis, gentle discussion and LOVE save the day. Good luck, Kate!

  22. All pictures are beautiful and all perfectly photographed
    kristen stewart hot


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I do read every single comment you leave and appreciate it very much, but I should let you know that I can be a wee bit on the useless side when replying to comments, that's just me, everyday life sometimes gets in the I'll apologise now, just in case.

Kate XX

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