Today, I’m delighted to share a guest post by Teresa Bondora. She’s a long-term home educator and mom of two. Her daughter graduated home education 4 years ago but her son is still studying at homeschool. It’s been a long journey from high school teacher to veteran homeschooler but she’s been a proud mom every step of the way. This is her story, in her own words.
Teresa Bondora; Science Teacher
I spent 8 years in college, qualifying as a high school Science teacher. Shortly after graduating, I had my daughter. Of course, I sent her to a good daycare and, later on, to good schools.
My daughter was tested as gifted and had 5 school years of amazing self-esteem. However, she started to come home crying and saying she was stupid. Her brother was born, with autism, when she was in 5th grade. Pulled in many directions, I quit teaching and tried to figure out what to do.
I will never forget the morning I sent my daughter to school while she was crying, “Please don’t make me go.” Something in me just broke.
Teresa Bondora; New Homeschooler
Going online, I signed into a homeschool forum. As soon as I posted a message, someone wrote back and told me to get her out of school NOW and that she would help me once I got her home. That person saved and changed our lives.
I took my daughter out of school, followed our laws and tried to homeschool her. Another wonderful person, named Ren, helped me realise I needed to deschool. I learned about relaxed education and unschooling.
My degree major was Education; I was a teacher. Yet, I was only just now learning about mental and educational autonomy. To say I lost sleep and cried so many nights is an understatement. It doesn’t do it justice to say it was a leap of faith. When all my daughter did was watch manga on her computer, I started to doubt. But, it led to her wanting to learn Japanese. Then she became obsessed with a Fortune 500 company. And, when I say obsessed, I mean she spent 3 years on YouTube and Google talking about it constantly until I was exhausted.
Teresa Bondora; Fortune 500 Daughter
She got a job flipping pizzas. I thought to myself that I’d failed her terribly. “She works at a pizza joint and spends all her free time on the computer learning about this stupid Fortune 500 company.” My daughter was going nowhere fast and I was wrong to have listened to those who counselled me to take this path.
One day, she told me she was going to work for that Fortune 500 company. I doubted her. One year later, she got on a bus to visit a friend in the city where that company is headquartered. Something was different about her, that day. She was crying. She hugged me longer than usual. As she stared at me through the window, I felt a deep dread as if she knew something that I didn’t know. She did.
My daughter went to that city with no intention of coming home. She told me later that she didn’t want to hurt me. But to her credit, within a fortnight she had a job at that Fortune 500 company! She found roommates and settled into her new life. I cried at my loss but at the same time rejoiced at her success!
Teresa Bondora; Trust & Gratitude
That was 4 years ago. Today, she continues to get raises, promotions and every position that she applies for. They praise her constantly. She’s happy with her job every single day and feels so fortunate to be living her dream.
Would she have ended up where she is if I had forced my intentions on her? Forced her to practice spelling, study History, have fixed times and schedules? I cried myself to sleep many nights and posted to countless forums. But I trusted her and followed her lead; I gave her autonomy and she ended up living her dream. After all, isn’t that what we do for our children? We trust them.
No one tells us when we first find out we’re pregnant, that if we really love our babies then we will get hurt. We will be afraid. Yet, we’ll reach back every day to find the strength to face our fears. And, if we find that strength, if we give that trust, we end up being great parents – the parents that they need. And, when they’re adults, being their best supporters, watching them live their dreams. Feeling gratitude for the fortitude and advice of all the people that helped us on our way.
Teresa Bondora; Living the Dream
Today, we celebrate together on the phone with each new happy thing she has to share. I hang up the phone trying not to cry because of the relief and happiness. I miss her and, at the same time, know she’s living her dream and is happy. What more could a mother who asked for help and risked all those years hope for?
She and I are both fortunate products of other wonderful women who spoke up and helped us. My son has never been to school. He’s 16 years old and thriving. He wants to go into Chemistry because he’s been allowed to explore. Today, my life and work is nothing like what it was 24 years ago. And I couldn’t be happier, for my children, for me, for us – for our educational journey. I hope I never stop learning and growing. I relish the idea that it was my children who asked me to do it. Today, they still do!