I’ve had this post title in my drafts for a while now. I’ve been waiting for the perfect time to use it, and yesterday nailed it for me. Let me explain…
Yesterday afternoon, I attended a “lunch bunch” at a neighbor’s home. There was a good mix of mothers there, about 10 of us in total. Some were young moms with young children. Others were more seasoned moms, such as myself, and then there were a few sweet grandmothers.
I was the one and only homeschooling mom in the group, which is no surprise. I think I may be the one and only homeschooling mom in this bitty town.
Something you should know about me is that I am more comfortable in smaller, more intimate groups, or one-on-one. In bigger groups, I often feel out of place. I don’t know why. I just do. It’s out of my comfort zone. So, there I was amid this crowded group of women, most of whom I barely know, sitting in a circle with them, plates of mac ‘n cheese and jello salad on our laps, doing my best to just blend in.
At one point in the conversation, the topic of homeschooling came up. I certainly didn’t bring it up. I was blending! But our lovely hostess is a military wife and she and her husband and their four children have moved around quite a bit. They have lived in Japan and Hawaii. That is something she and I have in common. I’m not a military wife, but due to my husband’s job, we move around, and have lived in different states and in other countries. In fact, I’ll be returning to Lima, Peru next month, along with my 11 and 16-year olds, to rejoin their father who currently works there. (The kids and I have been on an America-break for several months now, mostly so that the 16-year old can learn how to drive.)
Well, this amazing mom was explaining her family’s lifestyle, which is certainly unique here, and she was mentioning the different schools her children have attended over the years, and how at times they’ve had to compensate when it was necessary to move before a school year was completed. I guess that led her to say that she could “never homeschool” even though that might be a solution to those in-between-school-times. She was convinced she would “pull her hair out” as she put it. She is fairly new here and had no idea there was an actual homeschooling mom in the room, but the woman sitting next to me looked at me and whispered, “Don’t you homeschool?” to which I simply nodded my head and gave her a conspiracy smile. I didn’t feel the need at that point to mention out loud that I happen to homeschool and I absolutely love it.
This was one of those moments when I wanted to blend in, and just feel like a part of the group, but because I do something completely different than every other mom in that room (homeschool), I had the chance to stand out if I wanted to. Let’s face it. Homeschooling has this way of making us stand out sometimes, especially in groups of other parents who all send their children to public school. Homeschooling is often seen as untraditional, different, unique, and is certainly not considered “the norm”.
At that moment, a young mom sitting across the circle from me, turned to the mom next to her and asked, “Would you ever homeschool?” I tried to tune out their conversation so I didn’t catch her reply, but I couldn’t help noticing that she glanced at me first. I did hear the first mom say that sometimes it’s a bit of an issue when her children come home from school saying that if their teacher said it (whatever “it” may be), it must be true. She was talking about how teachers can trump parents as the ultimate authority sometimes.
I sat there and I stayed quiet. I held my tongue. I was not going to say anything to stand out!
But then our hostess turned to me and she asked me how many children I have and so I told her I also have four children, and gave their ages, and I said we too move around a lot… And then I heard myself say, “and we homeschool.”
Yikes! Why did I go and say that? In my mind I warned myself not to let my passion for homeschooling take over. And looking back, I think I handled the whole conversation just fine. I did make the point to say that homeschooling works beautifully for my family and that I no longer trust the public school system. I was asked a few probing questions, such as, “How are your older kids doing in college?” and “Do your kids feel like they are missing out?” I gave honest, but brief answers. I shared a tiny bit about how we homeschool. And then, I dropped the subject.
I think this taught me a lesson about blending in and standing out in a peer group. It’s okay not to volunteer information about yourself and your family when it’s a controversial subject such as homeschooling and you’re not sure how the group will take it. But it’s also okay, when the subject comes up naturally, to put in your two-cents, as long as you are respectful to those around you, and you don’t get carried away. You never know who may benefit from it. Maybe down the road, one of those moms will work up the courage to try homeschooling herself.
If you have had experiences similar to mine, please share!