This morning I took all three kiddos to go shopping. Brother is in desperate need of new pants. We pile into the car and head to Ross. On the way I go down the list of acceptable behaviors and unacceptable behaviors. The latter list is quite long, as we have been on enough shopping trips to experience such behaviors. If everyone is sweet and obedient, we will go out to eat lunch. If they are not, we will come home to eat lunch and the correlating discipline will follow. As it turns out, everyone did great. We made the trip short and it was indeed sweet. We only found one pair of jeans, but it is a start. So, when asked where they want to dine, the answer is of course, "McDonalds"! Then my son says, "But Mom, it's not cheap Happy Meal day!" Poor kid. It's a special day when we go to McDonald's and actually pay (gasp!) full price for a Happy Meal.
We arrive and the Playland is PACKED. Brother is so excited to see other kids, his car door is open before I can park it. "Maybe I'll make a new friend today!" he exclaims. Man...what kind of a mom am I? I don't work, therefore we have to find bargains even at McDonald's, the world's cheapest fast food. And I homeschool, so he doesn't get to play with kids every day. I deprive him of money and friends! I'm feeling a little guilty when we go in and all the kids are five and under. Great for Sister, who is three, but Brother should have six-year-old boys to play with. He doesn't care. It's kids! He joins the throng with zeal. (When I say "throng", it's actually more like a mosh pit.) I run into the mother of a boy Brother played soccer with last year. We see each other all the time. It's like we haunt the same places. Anyway, she is there with her daughter who is Sister's age, but her son is in school, of course. We chat a while and she goes to her table with her group that meets there every Friday for lunch. We are there an hour or more. The kids lose themselves in all the activity and I love watching them interact, even though there were a few little squabbles to deal with. I give the kids the Five More Minutes signal to prepare them for our departure and she invites me to sit at her table. I tell her we're leaving, but I stand and go over to chat just a little. Of course, the first thing she says is, "I thought about homeschooling, but..." This happens often when I talk to people who don't homeschool. They feel the need to justify their decision to send their kids to public schools. As if I care. I know that sounds harsh, but I made my decision to homeschool based on what I felt was right for my family. I am in no position to say whether or not it is the right thing for every family. People do what they want to do or feel they have to do. I get that. I don't look down my nose at public-schoolers. I am a public-schooler, and I had a great experience! I have a neighbor down the street who has a 10 year-old son. He has some pretty hefty problems developmentally. She blames it on the school and even went so far as to tell me I was "so lucky" that I homeschooled. I'll agree...I found a wonderful husband who just so happens to be an incredible dad to three of the most adorable kids on the face of the earth. I got lucky there. But luck had nothing to do with homeschooling my kids. Anyway, I'll get to that in a minute. Back to McDonald's Mom. So I listen and nod and smile politely, because I can't get a word in edgewise. When she comes up for air I simply say, "Well, it's not for everyone. You just do what you have to do." We talk about how most people can't make it on one income and she says she works part time and wouldn't want to quit and homeschool because she likes her "new car and house that hasn't been rented out". Okay, I was initially thinking it would be great if she and I could get together for a play date when her son has a day out of school. . Now I'm thinking, I couldn't dare invite her into my life.
Here's the deal:
I know many people could look at me, my house, my car, my life and shake their heads with pity. I know some people actually do. But I'm not a victim of circumstance here. I chose this, and believe it or not, I think it's pretty great!!! Yes, there are days I dream of a big house and a minivan that will hold us all comfortably and get us from here to there dependably. But on the whole, I wouldn't change anything. I gladly give those things up to be here with my kids. There are people who don't and they make it fine. But this is what I wanted. I don't do it all wonderfully. I probably mess up more than I get right. But I'm here and I'm happy. Please don't undermine that with pity. This is only a bump in the road. Because I am so "lucky" to have a hard working husband who wants to give us more, someday we may actually have all those "middle class" things. Until then, I won't be made miserable over "stuff".
Perhaps I'm being presumptious. She may not bat an eye at my situation. But I'm pretty sure based on our conversation that she would have a hard time forming a relationship with me. Maybe she will actually call me and maybe we will become great friends. She is very friendly and seems like a lot of fun...but a little shallow. This disappoints me, because I am hungry to have real relationships with people, and I've met very few I felt I could have that with. But, more on that later. This blog is ridiculously long!!!