Google The Unplanned Homeschooler: When did all my friends become homeschoolers?

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

When did all my friends become homeschoolers?

I first noticed it when a few of the moms in my homeschool group started hosting parties for things like Usborne Books, Thirty-One Gifts and Mary Kay. Several offered me a chance to host my own party, at home or online, and earn free gifts. But nearly all the people I might invite to a party had already been invited, because we were all in the same circle. All my friends were homeschoolers!

Had I managed to sleep through a social revolution, whereby homeschoolers had taken over the planet? Sadly, no, but just think about how much fun that would be. Alas, I knew that homeschoolers were still a small but growing minority in our society, so I had to ask myself, when did all my friends, at least the ones I see on a regular basis, become homeschoolers?

The ever changing friends list

If you are like me, you've probably noticed that your friendships have changed as your life has evolved. In college, your friends seemed like they'd be a part of your life forever. But graduation came, you got jobs, everyone moved off in different directions. I still have a few close friends from college who I really love, but it's hard to stay close when you're literally hundreds of miles apart.

Sometimes it's hard to stay close even when you're living right in the same small town. But as marriage, parenthood, work and other commitments take up time, you end up choosing who you'll spend your time with, often based on how much you have in common.

Homeschooling is a major lifestyle choice. It tends to put families on a different schedule than their public schooling peers. It shines a light on those who are critical and disapproving of your choices, and challenges those who feel threatened or judged by the fact that you chose something different for your children than they chose for theirs.

As shallow friendships fall to the wayside, the door is opened to new friendships, often with other homeschoolers who share much in common with you. You may miss the friends who've gone their own way, or you may even be relieved to be rid of some of them, because you've changed so much you just aren't compatible with one another anymore.

The change is gradual, but one day you look around and notice, like me, that you are surrounded by other homeschoolers... and you like it!

We won't always be homeschoolers

I was sitting next to a bonfire one night, not too long ago, with a couple of my closest friends. One of them said, sort of out of the blue, that she hoped we'd still be hanging out enjoying good times like these long after we were finished homeschooling our kids. 

We all agreed, and as we made a few more s'mores and listened to the giggles of our kids playing in the dark, I couldn't help but feel a little melancholy, realizing that the children who brought us together would all be grown and probably off to college in just a few more years. Did we have enough in common outside of homeschooling to sustain a friendship into the future? 

I told them that nearly two years ago, in a moment of introspection and complete honesty, I had told another homeschooling mom who I was close to at the time that I would miss her when our kids were grown. I didn't think that we really had enough in common to still be close friends without the bond of homeschooling our kids together. Maybe I shouldn't have been so open, because that friendship didn't last another six months, but sometimes, deep down, you just know things aren't right.

Homeschooling together is not enough to create lifelong friendships anymore than working in the same office or bowling on the same league. But if you're lucky, you find people who you really connect with, whose families you love almost as much as your own, and then you know you've found something worth holding onto. 

I looked across the firelight at my friends that night and smiled as I told them I didn't think I would miss them at all, because I could definitely see us hanging out together for many, many years after our homeschooling days are done.

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