Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Family and Friend

I sometimes hear either directly or on Internet blogs and forums about how isolated some homeschooling moms can sometimes be. Perhaps they live in a rural area or a place where there are few homeschoolers; perhaps the specific circumstances and demands of their lives leave little time to seek out the companionship of like-minded homeschooling moms to share the little slings and arrows of daily misfortune with, and, by sharing, to decrease them.

This is a hard burden to carry. Our world today doesn't value motherhood in itself very much; the question "What do you do?" implies something other than the tasks associated with the caring for, raising, and even teaching of children.

The saddest stories to me are the ones where in addition to having limited contact with friends, a mom also deals with opposition from one or both sides of the family to the choice to homeschool. This can be very demoralizing, and when coupled with relative isolation or a lack of a sounding-board can lead to total homeschooling failure.

I'm one of the lucky ones. Not only do both Mr. C's family and my own fully support homeschooling, but my mom homeschooled most of my siblings and I after a certain point. My oldest sister, the only one who missed out on the homeschooling opportunity because she was already in college when my family started, is now a homeschooling mom herself, and handles the task of raising and instructing her seven boys with considerable flair and energy.

And I have one other homeschooling "sister." Actually, she's my sister-in-law, but she's very much like a sister to me, and I value the friendship we have as one of the most important things in my life.

Maybe it's because our children's ages run pretty close, or maybe it's because we live in the same town, or maybe it's because we have as many differences as similarities--for whatever reason, my sister-in-law and I have become close. We chat on the phone about the little things and the big ones, we call each other up for "direction de-coding" (you know what I mean, moms! It's those moments when even the teacher's manual seems to have been written in Swahili), and we hash over the questions of the day, from who should run our country to what color to paint a room that has the frustrating ability to tamper with paint shades every time the angle of the daylight changes.

And that kind of family friendship is important--especially so, I think, to those of us on the SAHM-homeschooling journey together. There's nothing quite like a moment of contact that involves polysyllabic conversation, commiseration over the fact that a certain religion text's workbook frequently leaves out words on the Word Search pages, the sharing of a new easy dinner idea, and the honesty and unpretentiousness you can only get from family.

My school days would be a lot longer, and my life a lot less interesting, without the friendship of my sister-in-law. She amazes me with her creativity and talents, she makes me smile when we talk, and she's generous with her time and with everything she does and is.

Some of you know her as Matilda. And let me tell you, having Matilda in my family is every bit as wonderful as you might think.

Happy birthday, dear sister!


Paula in MN said...

I never knew y'all were related. I'm feeling a bit of jealousy right now. Like you, I have the support of family and friends, and it is truly wonderful. I also have one faction who is extremely against homeschooling - the ones who are in the public education teaching field.

Matilda said...

Thank you so much! You made my day!

Martha said...

Thanks for posting this. I was one of those isolated homeschooling moms (there are few Catholics who homeschool around here; my sisters have no kids and live thousands of miles away; my husband has no living female relatives and his brothers did not marry). And that is a large part of why I failed at homeschooling. (something I feel keenly when I read the 6 million Catholic mommy homeschool blogs.) I actually feel better knowing someone else thinks that situation would be hard. I am glad you cherish your sister in law and hope you do more with each passing year.