Head Case

Picture of a fabulous, fit, well-rested, woman who looks nothing like I do.

I’ve gained exactly 19.5 pounds since we started homeschooling last year.  Which is why I very nearly turned down the offer to write for this site.

It wasn’t because I have nothing to say.  I nearly always have something to say – just ask me.  And it wasn’t because I’m too busy to write. Writing is an important discipline for me.  I need to write.

Instead, I almost said no because of the head shot.  You see, each contributor needs to submit a glam shot of her head for her profile page.  For a couple of weeks, I thought I could postpone my decision long enough to drop a few pounds and pay for a real haircut.  When it became clear that I wasn’t going to lose ten pounds last week, I considered saying no.

It’s not like I was a skinny minny before homeschooling; I’ve always struggled with my weight.  But this last year put me over the edge.  Between working part time, homeschooling two boys, each of whom has special needs, and performing wifely duties for a busy chaplain, I stopped all forms of exercise and added a not-so-healthy dose of stress snacking.

At this point, I’d like to tell you that every pound has been worth it, that homeschooling is wonderful and that my boys are thriving.  Instead, I can say that homeschooling has been the single most difficult, disheartening, and sin-exposing experience of my life. There are many wonderful things about it, which is why we are doing it again this year. But I can’t afford to gain another twenty pounds, so something’s gotta give.

My spiritual director asked me this week what Jesus was saying to me about my stuggle with weight.

“Back your tuches away from the buffet table?” I guessed.

(I didn’t say that out loud of course.  It’s not good to let your evangelical spiritual director know that your version of Jesus occasionally sounds like your recriminating Jewish grandmother.)

Maybe all of this fretting about my head shot is what gives me away as a head case. Maybe it’s my inability to be around my kids without the bolstering from a chocolate bar. Either way, I’m pretty sure that Jesus wouldn’t want me to wait until I fixed myself up before I went out into the world.

Some day I’ll figure out how to take care of myself and my kids at the same time.  In the meantime, I’m going ahead with the blog.  I solved the head shot dilemma by submitting an old photo of myself.  If you want to know what I really look like, you’ll have to picture me with grayer hair and a rounder face.  Then you can picture me at my computer, inviting you to come along as we walk this parenting journey together.

About Tara Edelschick

Right now, Tara is on sabbatical in Costa Rica. She is sleeping more, and exercising and flossing every day for the first time in her life. She is enjoying her husband, her boys, and Nafisa (the daughter she never had) more than she ever has. And she is learning to rest in the arms of the one who doesn't rank you based on how many things you can cross off your list at the end of the day. Follow her on Twitter@TaraWonders.

  • http://www.nancyfrench.com Nancy French

    I want to go on this journey with you!

  • Shannah

    Love you T! The old you and the current rounder you :)

  • http://sixseeds.tv Jean

    Awesome post Tara. Your honesty is so attractive!!

  • http://www.dorothygrecophotography.com dorothy greco

    Love the post. (And I gained 20 pounds when I stopped homeschooling! Something for you to look forward to in X# years?) My fav. line from above: “Instead, I can say that homeschooling has been the single most difficult, disheartening, and sin-exposing experience of my life.” Next to marriage, maybe even more so than marriage, HS’ing pressed me to the ground and convicted me of my impatience like nothing else. For the first two years. And then it got remarkably easier. Perhaps because I grew in confidence. Perhaps grace. And a big part learning what it means to learn. Sending up a prayer on your behalf. Dorothy

    • tara

      Thanks for this, Dorothy.

      When I first started teaching high school in NYC, veteran teachers told me that it would take five years before I would know what kind of teacher I would be. At that point, they said, things would get much easier. It only took me three years, but during those first years I was so grateful for that voice that kept telling me things were going to get better if I could just stick with it. I learned and changed and grew, and the work became joyful.

      I can’t imagine that happening here (my former students never threw themselves on the floor sobbing about how cruel it is for me to insist they write a sentence on occasion) . But I’m choosing to believe you and I’m encouraged by the fact that it only took two years for things to get better for you. Maybe all of those years of wiping their bums shortens the learning curve. Whatever it is, your note lifted my spirits, sister. Thanks!

      • http://www.dorothygrecophotography.com dorothy greco

        You are welcome. If it wasn’t for the encouragement of many who had traveled along the HS’ing road ahead of me and left some super helpful signs, I think I would have stopped after year 2 and spent the next 2 years wondering why I couldn’t pull off something I felt pretty certain God was asking me to do. Here’s a thought – so maybe we do get tangled with our children a bit more when we endeavor to teach them at home. Maybe we feel deeper anger, more frequently than the average parents. But I don’t think it’s a stretch to say, humbly, that we will reap what we sow. We now have 3 teenage sons, all of whom love us, respect us and have made a strong transition to public school. Maybe your encouragement that your son push himself (recent blog) did contribute to a mini-melt down (have him read Tiger Mom when he gets older and he’ll be SOOO grateful for you!!) but how many kids have teachers who acknowledge their mistakes and apologize? Or parent’s for that matter? Go Tara! You’re onto something. Dorothy

  • http://www.chazandginger.blogspot.com Ginger

    This was great Tara!

  • http://www.centralsquarehealthandwellness.com Kristine Jelstrup

    You are such a wonderful, thoughtful writer Tara, I so enjoy reading what you write. Your honesty and vulnerability strike such a chord with me, I can only imagine that being true of anyone who reads your musings. Looking forward to more! Kristine

  • http://gradkitchen.blogspot.com/ Madeleine

    Oh boy. I’ve also gained a chunk of weight in the past year while finishing my dissertation. Stress-eating … creates more stress.

  • http://valleygirl99.blogspot.com/ Tiff

    Jesus was Jewish, so who’s to say he wouldn’t sound like your grandmother? ;)

    We’re considering entering the world of homeschooling next year, so I’m looking forward to reading your blog!

  • Belinda French

    I read your bio too, Tara, and appreciate your acts of service that you and your husband do.
    Serving others in the right amount is a way to love your own husband and children. It is love to them to see that we are outward focused and not totally inward. Our husband and children will benefit from that in countless ways. Certainly the family comes before others, but our service to others in the right amount helps the family.
    And I’ve found out that you can appreciate your own family more after doing for

  • E CB V

    Honesty IS attractive. Thanks for getting us started! Now let’s all keep it going and talk about (our) next steps. I struggle with exercise too. I also have a full-time job, and it takes time I feel like I don’t have to make balanced and nutritious meals for myself, my husband, and my son. At the same time, I know that if I can’t teach and LEARN self control about what I put into my body and how I use my body in terms of food and exercise, I have to ask about the impact of that upon how my son will understand the importance of self control over what he puts into his body and how he uses his body in every other aspect. Food is just the first of the sensual pleasures (even though it’s popular to replace it with utility). Following decisions about food and exercise will come decisions about sex, high-risk behaviors, ideas, and so on. We all (us, kids, spouses) need to learn, grow, and live in Truth about what is and is not appropriate for a temple of the Holy Spirit (one of the fruits of which is self- control). This isn’t about Mom/Dad Guilt or playing Jesus in our kids’ lives. (I also read your other column about vegetables, and how only God can work in our hearts; I agree. Amen!) This is about encouraging one another to grow forward in this area after a lot of us exhale and say, “Me too”. Shall we discuss?? : )

  • http://boydsnest.org/news/ Ann Boyd

    Tara, this is great. I love that question from your spiritual director — it’s so much more important to figure out what Jesus is saying about weight (as opposed to everyone else in the world). I need to keep talking to Jesus about my bad habit of eating candy before dinner. (???? why do I do this???) Most of the time, I would be much happier taking a bath than stress-snacking — but the bath is not an option at that time! Keep us posted if you learn anything on this one — we all need help. :)

  • Liese

    I guess your spiritual director doesn’t know that God is Jewish. :)