June 12, 2005

Ask Tenn - Before Kids

What did you do before you became a mother and a homeschooler?

In the days BK (before kids) I wore several hats. Perhaps my favorite BK hat was that of intercollegiate debate coach. I spent the last two years before Rhiannon was born coaching a college debate team and traveling the country with them. I loved coaching, it was one of those things I was clearly made to do. I was good at it, I loved it and my team loved me. Serona and I met through debate, and I actually was his debate coach during our first year of marriage (how complicated was that?). We used to joke that we got married so we can argue more conveniently (anyone know the book reference?) - as former debaters and excellent research and communications scholars we certainly have our moments.

When I coached debate I was surrounded by young smart college students who cared. They were smart, passionate and informed. They were hard working, dedicated and believe it or not fun! Leaving the debate community was difficult because I was surrounded by people who could and wanted to hold deep conversations on subjects that mattered to me. The people I was surrounded by knew how to research, construct arguments and discuss nearly anything and we were talkers.

But alas debate life is not family life and we had to move on. For awhile I thought that was going to be my career track and then we discovered we were pregnant with Rhiannon and life changed in many ways, all for the good. Debate, for all its glory had a serious family downside, near continuous travel and when not traveling all consuming work and research. I could not balance debate and family life so I left to stay home.

Before Rhiannon was born I also taught college Public Speaking 101, worked for the public relations department of a university, in the government publications department of the library and held other odd jobs that saw me through college (including being a door to door canvasser for the environment).

After our first was born we moved to Georgia where Serona worked for a non-profit organization and I started staying home full time. To help make ends meet I worked some part-time from home as a web designer. I also worked part-time for a fair trade coffee company and importer. I kept up these jobs until we moved to Minnesota and were expecting Ciaran.

Then I moved into more and more volunteer work. In one year I helped start two non-profit organizations and was heavily involved with La Leche League. Breastfeeding, attachment parenting and natural parenting were pretty defining terms and lifestyle choices during that time in my life. My work in La Leche League led me down the path that ultimately led me to homeschooling.

Sirah's pregnancy was very difficult on me as was my recovery time and I found myself pulling back from most of my volunteer organizations. By then we were also homeschooling and I soon discovered that while I was still an attachment style parent and extended nursing (three siblings of different ages at one point) those things were no longer defining for me - homeschooling had become much more of the label that described me or that I self-described as.

Now I find myself raising and homeschooling three kids (well mostly just playing with Sirah), staying home full time and slowly getting back into volunteer work. Now my volunteer time is more split between the church, my homeschool groups, and politics. But homeschooling takes much time and energy and placing my family first has limited what I do outside the home and how much time I can dedicate to it.

At times I miss some of the things I did before I had kids and homeschooled but overall I am very content with where I am in life now and I am thankful for the opportunities I have had. Homeschooling allows me to still do many of the things I loved about coaching and teaching. I still get to experience those "light bulb" moments when the kids really truly get it. Only now I see them more often and I am the one who gets the joy of sharing those moments with my own kids.

Thanks for asking.


  1. I loved hearing about your life BK! This is a great thread.

  2. The reference is from one of the narnia books. The one with the horses. Aarrgghh. This is bothering me, now I have to go figure out which one it is exactly.

  3. That was very interesting. Thanks for taking the time to answer.

  4. Anonymous10:56 PM

    Nice job Katy! A horse and his boy from CS Lewis. Serona and I always laugh when we read that part!