E's height, weight, and vitals measured, the nurse rolled her chair back to the computer. It was his 6 year well-child visit, scheduled a mere two months late, and I was trying my best to appear to be the sort of mom who is always calm and together - quite the challenge when pitted against C's shrieking and the older boys climbing the examination bed like a jungle gym.
"So, where's he going to school, Mama?"
There it was. First on the list. The question I knew she would ask, catching me off-guard as I tried (very unsuccessfully) to distract C from his attempts to escape the stroller.
I looked up to meet her eyes and smiled. "We homeschool," I answered, as if my heart wasn't racing.
As if the room temperature hadn't risen five degrees.
As if I was completely comfortable sharing this choice with anyone and everyone.
She kept her thoughts to herself as she made the note in his chart, and went on to the next question on the list. Bullet dodged, I returned my attention to the boys and the appointment.
It wasn't until a few days later that I really thought about my response to the nurse's question. Not my verbal response - that was pretty straightforward - but my physical response. That surge of adrenalin was unnoticeable (I'd like to think), but it embarrassed me.
After all, I know that homeschooling has been a great experience for our family, even if some of the individual moments have been far from perfect. Our kids are learning and they're happy. My husband is supportive. I'm having a pretty good time, too.
So what was my problem? Why did I feel so twitchy when the nurse, or for that matter, anyone who wasn't homeschooling their children, asked about E's school?
As it turned out, I hadn't dodged that bullet at all. In fact, I had walked into the doctor's appointment with it lodged firmly inside.
You see, as a former classroom teacher, choosing to homeschool, choosing not to send my son to public (or even private) school this year, feels rebellious. The truth is, though, I'm not much of a rebel. And, as much as I wish otherwise, I do care what people think of my family and of me.
This fault has caused me to spend far too much time worrying about other people's opinions and projecting their biases, when really...most people don't care. They're all too busy living their own lives and focusing on what is best for their families to get caught up in what is best for ours.
And the ones that do care? Well, there will always be questions about homeschooling from the people who have our children's best interests (and my sanity) at heart - the hows, the whys, the what ifs, and the what abouts. Those questions come from love, genuine curiosity, and an understanding that my husband and I are thoughtful parents who weighed all of our options before choosing one that spoke to us.
At the same time, there will always be people who think homeschooling is crazy and those who flat out object to it.
I can't control any of that.
One thing I can control, however, is whether or not I will carry around a fear of others' judgements about our schooling decision. And you know what? I don't want to hold on to that bullet.
Of course, I'm not exactly sure how to get rid of it. And I know it won't be something I can do overnight. (Wouldn't it be great if I could patent a method for that!)
I think, though, that the first step is to be open and honest about our homeschooling, without apologizing or sanitizing.
I'm starting here, with this post.
So, hi. My name is Stacey. I've been homeschooling my sons for about 6 months. Some days I think I am going to lose.my.mind and others are so perfect I have to pinch myself. Most days, though, are little of both.
If you want to read more about our homeschooling, our struggles, our stories, our life, keep checking back. I'll keep writing. And hopefully, in time, I'll leave that bullet far behind.