This story was originally published in the August 2017 issue of Richmond magazine.
Halfway through middle school, I asked my mother to homeschool me. She apparently thought it was a good idea, since she homeschooled me through 10th grade. Despite the occasional expression of disapproval and even ridicule, I loved the flexibility and confidence it gave me, and I thrived. It was the cocoon I needed, after growing up with an abusive and alcoholic father and hopping from school to school.
I was fortunate, at that tender age, to discover what sort of school setting was right for me. Years later, when I returned to school, it was to private school — the Dwight School on Manhattan’s Upper East Side. My unconventional educational journey had prepared me well, and I seized the independence of mind offered me. At my graduation, I performed the national anthem a cappella. Standing in front of my family, friends and teachers, I felt, for the first time in my life, that I belonged.
Today, I’m the father of four wonderful children, and private schools in many ways continue to define my existence and to provide that cocoon, especially for my older sons.
When my company relocated to Richmond after my divorce, I agonized over the decision. The prospect of being jobless in New York with two young sons terrified me, but moving away seemed like a parenting fail since I only saw my sons on weekends. I soon realized that we could have more time together in Richmond than we did in New York if the boys spent their summers and breaks with me, along with one weekend a month. That was enough to make the move.
I eventually remarried in Richmond, and when the boys lived with us during the summer, we felt complete. The rest of the year, whenever I looked in at their empty beds, I felt sadness and remorse.
Read the rest at Richmond magazine.
Illustration by Adrian Walker