I think probably every person everywhere is looking for another person who thinks along the same lines in life. Sure, opposites attract, but let’s save that for romance. For the regular ol’ everyday slogging through life, as well as for formulating and defending one’s own opinions on the journey, it’s sure helpful to have someone (or several someones) who totally understands where you’re coming from and who believes in what you believe in.
I very much feel that finding people like you makes you feel less crazy.
There are two big news items in my life involving Me Finding People Like Me. Now, I’ll have you know that I have many friends from all stages of my life, and I treasure them each and every one — or at least I treasure the memory of times we had together back before life got in the way, back when friendship between us was viable.
See, a friend of any shape or size is a good thing. But there’s always something especially pertinent about a friend who’s at the exact same stage in life as you are. There’s just something magnetic between two people who share the commonness of being in the same place in life at the same time. For instance, if you’re a student, you relate to students. If you’re a young professional, you relate to other young professionals. If you’re a cowboy, you’re drawn to other cowboys. And if you’re a young mother, you need to be around other young mothers who will help you keep your grip on sanity… and totally understand why it’s so hard to do just that.
I am SO thankful to be walking (and running, swimming, laughing, and crying) my way through motherhood with some of the best friends a momma could ever ask for; friends who are going through the same stuff as me at the same time. Friends who will obsess with me over all the moral dilemmas of parenting young souls. Friends who will not judge me for eating the leftovers off my kids’ plates. Friends who also feel the very real pain of being afloat in the laundry pile 29 days out of 30. Friends who know what it’s like to have relinquished your grip on what you used to think was ideal in order to spend a few years sacrificing sleep, youth, and solo bathroom visits for your (as yet) ungrateful little wretches.
I love my momma friends.
Still. I have been searching recently for even more friends — to be exact, for a very specific kind of friend. For if you follow my blog, you know that I have recently moved from the “general motherhood” category of life and entered the “homeschooling mom” subcategory.
Homeschooling is a very personal choice, and not all my mommy friends have made the same choices as Beau and I have. Not so long ago we Blakes were, like all our friends, walking down the relatively simple road of pre-school parenthood. Then, all of a sudden, our oldest babies all started reaching school age, and the whole group of us came to a fork in the road called Education Decisions. Listening to our hearts, we Blakes stepped tentatively onto the less-traveled road, looking back and waving at friends who headed the other way. Today we continue to wave over at those friends as we persevere on two separate but parallel roads. We, and I, still value those friends.
But we, and I, are (out of necessity) also looking for friends walking our same road. Because only people on this same road could truly understand where we’re coming from and where we’re trying to get to through homeschooling.
The good news is, we are blessed to be joined on the homeschooling journey by two other local families. The Ogrens are long-time friends; in fact, they both stood up with us in our wedding. Their homeschooled daughter is a year ahead of Asher. And the Gambles went through birth class with us six years ago; their son was born just a couple weeks before Asher, and they’ve homeschooled their older kids for a couple years now.
Last week the kids and I joined the Gambles at my first-ever homeschool co-op experience. Short definition: a homeschool co-op is a network of homeschooling families who support each other, socialize their kids together, and maybe even meet together regularly for continued education.
I confessed to Beau beforehand that I was somewhat nervous to attend the co-op. “What if all the other moms have braided buns in their hair and wear blouses and flowing skirts?” I fretted out loud. (What I forget, of course, is that I homeschool and I am ultra-cool. The two categories, here in the Twenty-Tens, are not mutually exclusive.)
I drove my kids to our first-ever co-op on wintry roads. I was only a little bit late, which is a real achievement for me. And I was in for such a pleasant surprise. The homeschool co-op, which meets one day every other week for classes like choir and acting and art and Lego math (for little kids) and Greek (for big kids), was full of wholesomely trained, boisterous, well-dressed kids… and mature, confident, trendy moms.
People like us.
I was so relieved to find people like us.
I called Beau on the way home and told him: “I think we’ve found our place. Now the kids can say they go to school! No one else has to know it’s just one day every other week.”
The co-op really is an ideal situation for us. It’s Christ-centered teaching and parent-monitored socializing and it only happens two days a month, increasing the chances that I can actually get there consistently AND do it well. Plus, it will give our kids a reason to pack their backpacks and think the other school-related thoughts I often worry they’ll miss out on by homeschooling.
So! Three cheers for co-op. … And if you’ll remember, way up there approximately 117 paragraphs ago (I never said I get where I’m going in a hurry), I promised two big news items regarding People Like Us. The second batch of news is that my online research has put me at the figurative kitchen tables of other homeschooling moms who blog. Moms who are eloquent writers. Moms who are experienced, confident veterans of this walking-of-the-less-traveled-road. Moms who believe in training up children like we do. Moms who can list, at the tops of their minds, many of our reasons for homeschooling.
These homeschooling mommas I’ve found online do not seem to wear their hair Hutterite-style. They do not seem to wear dresses and lace-up boots every day. They do not seem to keep their (gobs of) (runny-nosed) children barefoot and locked in basements. They do seem a lot like me. You know, like, they seem ultra-cool. (Sidenote of interest, here: did you know that Pioneer Woman is a homeschooling mom? Are you surprised, then, that I would try to do something she’s doing?)
These new blogging momma friends of mine: they live in other states… and they don’t exactly know I’m alive… but I can still think of them as part of my community, right?
Just to give you a little picture of what I’m talking about here, I offer up this excellent piece I found on Tricia Goyer’s website. Tricia Goyer is an experienced homeschooling mom; she’s already graduated her 3 biological kids, but she’s starting the process all over again with 7 (!) adopted children. But you might recognize her name because she’s also an incredibly prolific writer. She’s a contributor to Guideposts (like, my favorite magazine ever!); she’s a regular guest on Focus on the Family where she discusses her non-fiction books such as “Teen Mom: You’re Stronger Than You Think” and “Generation Next Marriage: The Couple’s Guide to Keeping it Together”; she’s a writer of historical fiction (think the Amish series “Seven Brides for Seven Bachelors,” Christmas-themed novels, and G-rated romances like “Love Finds You in Lonesome Prairie, Montana”); AND… (drum roll, please)… she blogs about homeschooling. I just found Tricia’s website (yes, we’re on a first-name basis now) this week via the Read-Aloud Revival podcast, which another homeschooling friend tuned me into…
and I felt right at home as I read Tricia’s stuff. Like I was sitting at her kitchen island with a cup of hot cinnamon tea as she lovingly bolstered my confidence in explaining her own choices. Follow this link to see what she has to say… and if you read her thoughts, you’ll know a little more about me:
And in case you want to know what she looks like (See? No Hutterite hair in sight!):
My goodness, it’s good to know there are other people like me out there. This whole homeschooling battle in my mind has sure caused me to pause and glimpse into the souls of the other (weirdo) subsets of our society who, right or wrong, demand recognition… and it’s taught me why we all tend to look for people like us: because we’re all looking for validation.
© Tami Blake