Being the only homeschooler in a room of chatty moms is like being the fat girl trying on prom dresses with her skinny friends. All the other girls are finding ways to compliment her by self deprecation to make her feel special.  “Oh, I could never wear mud-puddle-brown with my hair color, but it looks great with your green eyes!”  Or, “I wish I had enough boob to hold up a strapless dress.”  Never mind she’s busting out of the armpits, making dairy cows feel inferior and looking like Willie Wonka’s chunkiest invention in chocolate satin!

Who are they fooling? They don’t want to be like her. They are secretly thanking their lucky stars that they are flat-chested and that the only dresses that come in mud-puddle-brown are in sizes big enough for two of them to wear like Siamese twins.

When you are a homeschool mom surrounded by “normal” moms, it’s basically the same situation. The difference is that you can keep your proverbial fatness hidden. Or, when the conversation turns to carpool lines and homeroom teachers, you can untie the girdle and tell them you homeschool.  And get ready to enjoy the crescendo of crickets when your “fatness” settles over the group.

And cue the ridiculous self deprecating compliments excuses for not homeschooling!

Those who could homeschool, but have no desire, are now insecure with you in the room. They don’t want to sound rude or judgmental so, by some kind of weird defense mechanism, they insult themselves as if you are there to recruit cult members or extra wives to haul away in your homemade cart and buggy out back?!

Some of my favorites:

  1.  “You must be really patient. I get too frustrated with my kids.”

Bwahaahaa! If I were patient I would have given up homeschooling 3 years ago.  We would never get anything done.  We would probably be covered in mold or turned to stone still waiting for D2 to finish his writing journal from our first Monday as homeschoolers.  It is because I am short on the patience that we get ‘er done!  I like things done right, yesterday.  I don’t sleep when things aren’t done.  When one of my boys is typing a final draft for a writing assignment, I have to sit on my hands not to tear the keyboard from the desk and type the dang paper already!

2.   “I can’t homeschool. My kids don’t listen to me.”

Every time I hear this one I want to respond, “I’m sorry, what did you say?,” then walk away. Seriously, all children are born deaf. And the condition only temporarily subsides when you’re on an important, private phone call locked in the bathroom whispering with the water running in the sink.  Then they hear every word and repeat it to all who will listen to what they’ve learned.

Because of this phenomenon, I’m tossing around a new curriculum idea where you teach history like an eavesdropping gossip chain. The teacher will hide on the toilet and whisper conspiratorially….”that uppity girl named Joan who thinks she’s so special she said she can, like, lead an army for her king friend. I don’t know, girl. I heard she may have a crush on him. Mmmhmm.  And get this; she says God told her to, and everyone was like, no way, and she was like, way.  And you know what, she did it! She fought like a beast. All hair pulling, swords, and crazy cat claws and stuff.  That king should have named a holiday after her. But I hear, he just wasn’t that into her, cause someone called her a witch and he didn’t even take up for her.  And now, I smell smoke!  Girl, for real.”   I’m still working out the syllabus details, but you get the idea.

3.   “I could never homeschool (insert ornery child’s name here). She/he and I argue about everything.”

Well, ya. And? Some kids are visual learners.  Others are kinesthetic or auditory.  Two of mine are argumentative.  Duh, ever heard of debate?  Sure we argue about everything from the true reason for commas to which way is up if the earth is round.  A child that won’t argue is either asleep or can’t form an original thought because they’ve been taught to follow without question.  Lots of our disagreements still end with me saying, “Because I said so!” But when my kids’ arguments are not short sighted and immature, I’m proud they’ve at least learned to think and build up ammo for a stance.  Of course, I’m opposition and moderator.  So, speak your mind, honey child, but unless Wikipedia can back you up, I still win.

  1.  “You are much braver than me. I just can’t be with my kids that much.”

Why? You don’t like them? Will you turn into a pumpkin?  Is there a restraining order? This one always perplexes me.  I’m left wondering if being separated from her kids is to keep her safe from her kids, or her kids safe from her. I think it is really code for, “I’d rather do something easier.”

The truth is not that they can’t homeschool. It’s that they don’t want to.  Plain and simple.  Just admit it, ladies, because we homeschool moms don’t care if you do or don’t homeschool anymore than we care if you dye your hair, make homemade cookies or shave your chin twice a day.  Though I’d probably get all up in your business and suggest an endocrinologist or my husband’s favorite disposable razor, I promise I’d never say something ridiculous like, “Gosh, I wish I had a reason to try Old Spice shaving cream, your jaw line just looks so shiny and strong!”

I refuse to drive a minivan.  It is a shallow ridiculous refusal, I admit. They are spacious and practically priced, and were made for people like me.  But I’m simply holding onto a false sense of coolness by driving an overpriced SUV instead.  But I won’t tell you, “I could never drive a minivan because my favorite coffee mug won’t fit in the drink holders! You are so lucky you don’t drink coffee.”  We don’t need your lame excuses.  Just own it.  You don’t want to homeschool  because it isn’t cool, or it is too hard, or you see no reason to do it.  The end.  (Wait this isn’t really the end. Just sounded good there, so keep reading.)

To be fair, there are always those that really understand your choice, know an awesome homeschool family. Some are single moms, and some must work to help feed their family. They all smile approvingly and grab popcorn, because they know this is going to get good!

And then there are those who are so put off by the audacity, arrogance, and stupidity of those who think they can fully educate their own kids. They simply scoff or laugh and pretend to hear their phone ringing and turn away.  It’s probably the school calling for ideas for next week’s movie line-up and not-so-crunchy snacks to keep the second graders quiet while the 3rd grade takes the test that will determine someone on the school board’s salary.

Motherhood alone sucks the energy, fun, patience, and the pretty right out of moms. But what these scaredy cats don’t understand, looking into our sleep deprived eyes, is that being a homeschool mom brings all those things back for us.  With a purpose we find the energy to make it happen. The fun is in experiencing every first with our children, and blowing up the kitchen for science fair. Patience is seeing the forest despite the trees and making it day by day, year by year, believing the end result will justify the struggle. The strength to handle it all and to walk away from those who would bring you down for their own insecurities takes beautiful determination.

So what if some moms don’t want to homeschool?  Some truly cannot, and others truly should notAnd that’s okay. Most homeschool moms are not demanding anyone join the sorority.  And we certainly don’t need pity and thinly veiled defensive compliments.  I can’t help but feel sorry for these folks and all they are missing, because sometimes the fat girl in the room is more comfortable with herself than the one’s who are judging her.

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