I’m at the doctor’s office, or church, or at a new women’s group. Someone asks where my child goes to school, and I tell them we homeschool.
Before I got comfortable with homeschooling, I assumed people would be hostile.
No. Instead they break my heart.
Because more than half of the people get visibly jittery, and they say, “I could never do that, but it’s great that you are. Really! I commend you! How fantastic!”
They say this very, very quickly.
A couple of observations:
- I don’t think anyone needs an excuse not to homeschool. Clearly all of us are working hard at parenting. Doing something that seems “hard” does not win me Parenting Brownie Points. Plus a myriad of reasons (finances, careers, love for the idea or reality of public school, or personal preference) might make homeschooling a bad idea for a lot of parents. I always appreciate when people don’t judge me for choosing something kind of wacky. I (honestly) will return the favor for the more “mainstream” around us.
- All that protesting makes me wonder whether the door is really closed, the choice really made, the decision really decided.
Look, I don’t need anyone out there to follow my lead. I do wonder though, from the reaction I get, if a lot of people close the door on homeschool because of fear.
Fear that they’ll end up at loggerheads with their kids, fail to educate them, go crazy at home all day with them. Fear they’ll be judged, fear of change.
The awkward justifications make me think that the fear is holding back a flood of real desire.
Not that I’m recommending ignoring those fears, but from personal experience, saying no to something only because of fear is a really bad idea. Usually, the more I find myself explaining to people why I simply can’t do something, the more my psyche really wants to try it.
I once spent a good hour emailing a friend, explaining why I simply couldn’t write a particular essay because I had no time, and looked up to realize that in the time I had written the excuse I could have written three first drafts.
I explained to a different friend why connecting with Spanish speakers in Southern California was simply too hard, and finished the conversation by realizing I was a schmuck. I attended a Spanish-language church a few weeks later.
Maybe it’s not homeschooling for you. Maybe it’s starting a small business, travel, a new approach to disciplining your kids. Maybe it’s forgiving a friend or setting a really audacious goal for yourself.
If you are spending a lot of energy explaining to yourself why something is simply impossible, I’m guessing your whole body might be yearning for it.
Stop explaining why it can’t happen. Just stop.
You don’t have to go out and do it the next day. You don’t even have to do it at all. But listen to yourself, explore the idea, and take it seriously. Look fear in the eye, and see what it has to tell you about your dreams.
If you can, write one (tiny, almost-nothing) way you could move in that direction. Lean towards the idea. Think of one person to talk to about it, one book to read on the topic, one hour to devote to the practice.
Because you can do it. Really. You can. And when you really make the choice, when your brain, your body, and your rationalizations are all in alignment, you won’t have to justify yourself to me. Or anyone else.