The secret to the success of this blog is that instead of showing you how perfect my life is, I show myself drinking in the morning, before work.

My husband is always worrying that I make us look bad, so he makes up rules like how I can’t write about our sex life, and then I violate the rules while pretending to follow them. Like, I write about our not-having-sex life.  For example, it’s asparagus season so there is no oral sex because asparagus doesn’t change the smell of just your pee.

The truth is that you guys don’t want to read anyone who thinks she knows everything, so I try to focus only on what I’m unsure about. Like, should you stay with a guy who throws furniture?

At the time I wasn’t sure. So the post was interesting. Now I’m pretty certain that unless that guy has a problem with drinking or drugs, you can stop relationship problems by taking more responsibility for your interactions. It takes two people to fight.

But you probably hated that paragraph because I’m telling you how to run your life. If you really want instructions for how to run your life you can go to church.

It’s more fun to learn things together. Like here’s something I just thought of: People are aging better and better. Like, 60 is 40 which must mean that 80 is 60 and 60-year-olds have sex which must mean that 80-year-olds will have sex. But men aren’t really living to 80, only women. So I think there will be a surge in gay sex in nursing homes.

I’m trying to think of how to capitalize on this trend. Maybe it’ll be a combination of sex aids and nostalgic games from the 70s.

Noa Kageyama’s post last week is about being right. Because he’s a good blogger, Noa blogs as he learns, and he recently learned about the Marshmallow Challenge, which is a great experiment and you should see this video about it. Anyway, Noa points out that if you are really concerned with being right then you are less likely to be right because you don’t test your knowledge. Because you are sure you are right.

This stresses me out because I like being right.

Something I am right about is when Cassie or Melissa or other people who I sometimes want to kill tell me that Quistic is a flailing company, I tell them all startups are flailing companies until they are in the B round of funding, because all startups are really experiments to figure out what is right.

I am right about that even though I am not sure what is right yet about online learning. Good startups flail. Good founders enjoy that feeling.

So why can’t I accept flailing when it comes to homeschooling?

I want to line everyone up. Everyone in the whole world. And I want them to tell me that I am right about homeschooling and they wish they were me. They wish they were as brave as me. They wish they could trust their kids to learn as much as I trust my kids. I want to stand on top of the world and scream: Everyone who thinks I am more right than them about raising kids, raise your hand.

And everyone raises their hand.

Then I can be humble. People like humble. It’s a social skills rule. It’s why parents hate people who are not parents. Because parents think kids make you humble and humility is a good trait. And it’s why people who don’t have kids hate parents. Because people who think they are more humble than other people are actually preachy, arrogant, and unbearable.

Speaking of preachy, arrogant, and unbearable, this is happening on my homeschool blog. I am getting so worried that people think I’m wrong that I am yelling at everyone. I don’t have time to be fun and charming and humble because I want to smash everyone’s head together until they think like me.

But really, I am scared that I’m doing something wrong with my kids. When I’ve been scared before, I could hide it. Like, when I was in the mental hospital for postpartum depression, I just kept writing resume advice. But it’s hard to hide that I’m homeschooling. It affects everything. And I’m getting worse and worse at hidingWhich is probably good. But I’m still scared.

I wish I didn’t need other peoples’ approval.

The thing is, I don’t care if you think nursing homes will be full of sex toys. I know I’m right. I can move on. But I am stuck on homeschool. I can’t stand that people are sending their kids to school when I know they shouldn’t.

But I don’t want to admit that I’m unsure how to make homeschooling work. And I don’t think it’s a coincidence that I starting taking anxiety medicine when I starting homeschooling. And it’s not a coincidence that right after I started homeschooling Melissa started sending me fidget toys so I don’t pick my cuticles from anxiety. And I’m so nervous about not knowing what works to make a good life that I can’t even post this post on my homeschool blog. I don’t want anyone to know.

I just remembered that I was going to make a quiz for this post so you can test yourself to see if you are preachy, arrogant, and annoying. Here’s the test: What part of your life would you never tell your friend about? Whatever it is, that’s where you are preachy and arrogant. You don’t want to tell your friend so that you can pretend that you are good in that area. Secrets are the spots in our lives where we are most devoted to being preachy.

So we all fail the test. A better test would be: which fear can you face today? Find something no one knows about you. Or only a few people know. That’s the thing that you can’t stand admitting because then you can’t be high and mighty about it.

It’s one of the hardest things to do. It’s the focus of the majority of  coaching sessions I do. Invariably the thing that holds us back is we want to be admired for something that we do not actually deserve admiration for. It’s that gap that makes us stuck. And right now I’m suck in homeschooling hell.

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  1. Realistic
    Realistic says:

    Why would parents send their kids to school? Um…because based on this blog there’s a whole lot of homeschooling moms who “need” anxiety meds. If you’re relatively stable, then make a choice that leads you to believe you need anxiety meds, it probably wasn’t a good decision and it can be reversed. Sorry, but no voluntary situation that warrants meds is worth it. It doesn’t mean you’re weak, it means the situation sucks.
    Your kids will be fine if you send them to school. It’s probably better than being isolated at home all day with a mom popping xanax.
    Of course, if homeschooling doesn’t lead you down a path of creating-a-perfect-world-for-your-kids anxiety, rock on, keep doing it.

  2. VTESI
    VTESI says:

    “What part of your life would you never tell your friend about? Whatever it is, that’s where you are preachy and arrogant.”

    HA! All my close friends (say 5-10) know, between them, every single area of my life, every failure and embarrassment. There are a few of those people (maybe 3) who know all the details.

    So now I get to feel smug and annoying? Yes. Except, unlike Penelope, I’d be terrified of sharing them on a blog because I’d get panned by the rest of the world. Probably.

  3. Nova
    Nova says:

    Penelope,
    I have been reading all your posts in all your blogs for over two years now but I never leave comments in your home schooling blog even though many times I feel that I would like to. Your ideas are thought provoking and do make me think about best ways to teach my son but since I usually come down on the side that home schooling is not a good idea for me, I don’t write my comments. It feels like you wouldn’t want to hear the conter-arguments to generalization of your situation. For example the fact that you do have pedagogical ideas for teaching your children, and you live in a farm away from good schools, puts you in a unique position for homeschooling your children.

  4. Steve
    Steve says:

    @SteveMielczarek: Maybe Penelope Trunk should change her name to “a rebel not recognized as a belligerent” insurgent hacking princess.

  5. Kristine
    Kristine says:

    As a new blogger (and blogger for a startup), this post has really helped me. I’m trying to find the proper balance and way to do things, but it can get frustrating because I’m trying to sound like I know what I’m talking about without sounding like a know-it-all. With everything, it’s just finding your footing and making it work.

  6. Marcus Lundy
    Marcus Lundy says:

    My mother & others believe I needed to go back to therapy or something, because I may come off as rude kind of, have the behavior of 16 year old instead of someone in their 20’s [American’s and their therapy…”got to learn something in your 20’s sort of mentality along with the type of paranoid headspace”], I’ve made mistakes in the past, in which one mistake could have been life threatening to others. The thing is therapy to me is really really annoying and boring to me. And thoughts on the matter? [How have you dealt with therapy…if you’ve partaken in it.]

  7. SaraBob
    SaraBob says:

    Please, please, please for the love of God: Give up your children to a stable home environment. What have they done to deserve a psychotic mother and temperamental step-father? Why do you hate your children so much you have to post about every little aspect of your life on the Internet? No wonder you homeschool them.

  8. Jean
    Jean says:

    I think your anxiety comes from worrying that you’re not doing the best by your children — especially in the face of the majority of society that believes schools are the only way to educate young people. My advice is to trust yourself — yes, definitely question yourself — but when you’ve done your research (which you have) and you’ve tested your theory, then give yourself the credit you’ve earned from years of soul searching. You have had unique experiences in your life that have opened you up to ideas and possibilities that most people cannot imagine. So they may not raise their hands, but that doesn’t mean your convictions are wrong. As a social worker, I believe that the thing that matters most in being a parent, is simply being there for your children when they need you. Perhaps home schooling will screw your children up a bit, but so would school. Any what’s so wrong with being a little screwed up anyway? You definitely are screwed up and look at what an amazing career you’ve created from your screwed up perspective? We love reading about it because it makes us all feel less terrible for being a little screwed up too. You sound like a loving parent, imperfect, but honest. Your kids will do great things because you are giving them the opportunity to grow without limitations or expectations, and you are encouraging them to push themselves and follow their passions. And from your home schooling experience with your children, you will learn about how to make home schooling work and share that with the rest of us. As always, you are a trendsetter, and that (just like your startups) means you are traversing new territory, which can be scary and lonely, but your life experiences have prepared you to overcome this challenge. I believe it you, you must believe in yourself too. To follow in the theme of poetry:

    Until one is committed
    There is hesitancy, the chance to draw back
    Always ineffectiveness.

    Concerning all acts of initiative (and Creation)
    There is one elementary truth
    The ignorance which kills countless ideas and splendid plans:

    That the moment that one definitely commits ones self
    Then Providence moves too.

    All sorts of things occur to help one
    That would never otherwise have occurred.

    A whole stream of events issues from the decision
    Raising in one’s favor all manner
    Of unforeseen incidents and meetings
    And material substance
    Which no one could have dreamt
    Would have come your way.

    Whatever you can do or dream you can, begin it.
    Boldness has genius, power and magic in it.

    GOETHE

  9. mh
    mh says:

    In answer to the title questions of this post, with regards to me, No, Yes, and Yes.

    Arrogant, yes.
    Annoying, yes.
    Preachy, no. Among my circle of acquaintances/relatives, it’s best for me to live my life and let other people figure it out. It leads me to do a lot of sympathetic nodding.

    The solutions to most problems seem self-evident to me.

    So, sympathetic nodding preserves my relationships.

  10. Nancy
    Nancy says:

    Great post! Funny, in fact, because it is all true. Doesn’t everyone feel this way? I think it is just a matter of accepting that these feelings are inherently human or at least… American? When the stress of homeschooling takes you over, you can remind yourself that it’s normal and it’s all going to be okay.

  11. Joshua Tilghman
    Joshua Tilghman says:

    Penelope,

    Love the honest writing!

    At one point I thought homeschooling was a great option for our kids, but my wife was adamantly against it. Not because she has anything against homeschooling, but rather because she wanted the to have a lot of opportunities for the social atmosphere school has to offer. But I think there was a fear after reading your post – it terrified her to have to know all the curriculum for many grade levels. So she was preachy about why not to homeschool.

  12. Bethany
    Bethany says:

    The whole “social” aspect of home schooling is really a very weak argument.

    Number one, nowhere in life are we segregated according to our age and told to be friends with only those people. It’s one reason, in my opinion, there’s so much bullying going on.

    Beyond that, life is social. We can provide opportunities for our home schooled children to socialize with everyone from the checker at the market to their piano teacher to the kids on their sports teams and in their church programs. We don’t lock our children up and keep them from the big bad world–we simply believe there is a better way to educate them.

    Keeping track of multiple grade levels is not rocket science. Anyone who can hold down and flourish in a mid level career certainly is capable of educating 2 or more kids at home. It’s just whether or not you’re willing to. And if you aren’t, then you aren’t. No biggie. It’s not something everyone wants to do.

  13. S. Griffin
    S. Griffin says:

    Wait, can it be true that the very secret things that make those churchy people hypocrites are true of those that don’t go to church?

  14. Caley
    Caley says:

    I’m with you sister. Fret less.
    I am in the exact same situation but a year ahead of you. It worked great.
    It is time to make the decision for this school year and it’s easy to see: this worked so, so much better.
    I miss having a job with grown ups, but my kids more valuable.

  15. Robbie
    Robbie says:

    The last couple of months I have been branded as arrogant. I am confident, yes. I would say that comes across in most aspects of what I do – the tone of my voice, the way in which I speak, advise, write, articulate, etcetera.

    However, seemingly more people have become angry and with me for my supposed irritating arrogance, but myself — I simply fail to see it.

    My year group in sixth form more or less failed A-levels — apparently because of the education reforms that have taken place in the past couple of years. Yet, I didn’t fail, I didn’t get poor or mediocre results, I worked hard and I got what I aimed for. But with that, those around me have said that I am now arrogant when it is the those around me that “boast” my success; not due to genuine pleasure at my acheivements but with envy.

    I can’t get to grips with the fact that I have done well and have been ‘annoying’ people with my claimed ‘arrogance’.

    Yes I am confident, and yes I do certainly know exactly what I am good at, but more important (I believe) I know exactly what I’m not good at too.

    Is this such a problem?

  16. Carly Corday
    Carly Corday says:

    No, we do not all fail the test. I DON’T. But what a funny premise you have there! You fail the test = so we all fail the test. Or is it: I thought of the test = I can decide who fails it and I decided we all do, jus’ ‘cuz. Even though there is no test here, just a title (with link to get us here) saying here is a test.

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