The Things I Can’t Change

The Serenity Prayer

God grant me the Serenity
To accept the things I cannot change,
Courage to change the things I can,
And the Wisdom to know the difference.

This prayer hung in my kitchen throughout my childhood. My father hung it there, when he received it as a gift from his sister.  When I would get frustrated about something, he would point to it.

I always thought the second line was stupid. Everything can be changed. I believed that with my whole, young fiery heart. And I think tonight, I finally realized my problem. I have never had, “the Wisdom to know the difference”. In my mind, I have always thought that if things don’t change, then people aren’t working hard enough.

Well, tonight I think it finally sunk in. That sometimes it’s not that things can’t or won’t change, but it’s a question of how long and how hard of an uphill battle do I want to fight?

When my husband and I decided to move, I promised myself to do the best research I could to ensure a quality school system and community for our children. The battle I fought in the town we were leaving was long and hard. Some said what I accomplished was impressive, but for me it wasn’t nearly enough. I felt like a failure.

I was leaving a profession that was so important to me. I wasn’t able to help those students I know were falling through the cracks and would keep falling without me advocating for them. I felt terrible that I couldn’t motivate and inspire more like-minded people (fellow teachers, friends, parents, etc.) to speak up and get involved. I felt bad telling parents of my former students that I was leaving and that I would never teach the younger siblings of families that  I had grown so close to.

But in the end, I took a deep breath and walked away. Knowing that I couldn’t stay somewhere and keep banging my head against the wall. I had already developed an ulcer and lost far too much sleep. Many asked me if I really thought I could find better. I was confident that I could and that I did. But one of my colleagues was right to say that the sweeping reforms were national and could not be escaped.

Tonight I realized that though I have found a better place for our family, I still am not sure that it is good enough. I wanted a place with more parent and community involvement. I found a place with three parent organizations. Yet tonight I sat at a meeting for one of those organizations as the ONLY member of the public at the meeting. Sadly the other groups and meetings don’t have much attendance either.

I feel cheated. I feel lost. I feel alone in this battle despite all of the Facebook groups that tell me that there are people out there fighting the same fight.

At what point do I just give up fighting for better public schools and just homeschool?

I just paid $100 to own this blog and $20 to print business cards to promote it. But tonight I feel like letting my kids finish out the school year and then just walking away…again. As inspiring as all of these Opt Out and other reform movements are, I just don’t know if I have it in me to lead one, because the battle is such a grueling one.

My first responsibility is to my children, and I know that leaving them in public school is not the best possible choice for them. But then I think that even if I homeschool my children, they still have to go out into a country that will be so much worse off, if things continue the way they are going.

Maybe I should be up late planning to homeschool next year instead of trying to fix a system that so many people are so complacent about.

Now that I am older I understand why my Dad’s sister gave him that prayer. Because he, like me, was never satisfied accepting that anything was unchangeable.

One thought on “The Things I Can’t Change

  1. Interesting thoughts; thank you for sharing.

    I think there are some things which we cannot change. WE cannot change someone else’s heart or attitude. We can influence, we can guide, but we CANNOT force change up on them; it just isn’t within our power. Oh, sure; we could force them to say the words and act the right way, but that isn’t really change. Change starts internally and that is not something we have power over.

    I feel your struggle. As busy parents we need to weigh how much outside responsibility we want to take on. Sometimes the effort is worth the work, sometimes it isn’t. There is no easy, pat answer to help you decide which is best.

    Homeschooling is a passion for me, so obviously I would highly recommend this route, but that is just my humble opinion. It’s true, our children will one day have to face the world around them and most of it won’t be nice. However, I’d like to believe they will be better prepared for the chaos surrounding them. They will have a better foundation, a clearer vision for their purpose, and the tools to help them accomplish their goals.

    It’s not that the public school system CAN’T be fixed, it could. Truthfully, I just don’t see it happening. There are too many complacent parents, over-involved politicians, and other nonsense going on. (Not to say there aren’t some good schools and good teachers out there, there are; they are just few and far between.) My heart goes out to all trying to bring about change. I wish them the best.

    For now, I will continue to homeschool my children.

    Like

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