Submitted by Janell E. Robisch
Homeschooling can be demanding for any parent. Maybe if we were only homeschooling and not doing anything else, it wouldn’t feel so overwhelming at times, but most of us aren’t just homeschooling. We are parenting, working, volunteering, nurturing a marriage, raising kids on our own, running a business, and on and on.
I have found that the times in my mothering life where the friend meter was the lowest were the hardest and most lonely. When I first became a mother, we had just moved to a new state, and it took me a while to make friends. It was the decision to attend a La Leche League meeting when my son was 10 months old that made all of the difference. There, I was invited to a playgroup and made friends that have lasted these 12 years. Shortly after, I became part of a tradition so many of us lovingly know as Moms’ Night. (And if you don’t know it, you must become acquainted, really!)
Later, when I moved to the Shenandoah Valley from Northern Virginia, it was homeschool park days and later a co-op that got me networked with other like-minded women and their children. It wasn’t long before I was attending Moms’ Nights with them too. Time out without the kids (when I felt that they were ready to stay with dad for a while) is like recharging my batteries. Even if I miss a little sleep that night, I always feel more refreshed and ready to face the world the next day.
These friends are also important in just the day-to-day activities that I do with my kids. When we are justifying or just explaining our homeschool life to others, we often tell them about how well our kids are socialized (we all know about the ever-present socialization fear!). We take our kids to classes, on play dates, to co-ops, and on field trips. What we don’t usually bring up is that we’re socializing ourselves as well! I look forward to my children’s opportunities as opportunities for me to chat with other moms or perhaps get some advice on a problem, which may or may not be family-related. It’s not to say that I ignore my children, but the best homeschool outings are ones that balance kid time with mom time or allow the kids to learn or interact with their friends in a safe environment while I interact with my own friends.
Whether at a Moms’ Night or just hanging around watching the children play, I cherish the times I can get to know other mothers and share experiences with them. For whatever reason, knowing that someone else is out there going through similar struggles makes going through my own struggles a little less burdensome. I have many friends, and we each share a little something, even if it’s just an open mind or a sense of humor. Also, meeting and hearing from friends with different viewpoints have sometimes changed (or cemented) my own views, usually for the better.
I can’t speak for the dads out there, but as a mom, I have found that my girlfriends have played an especially important role in protecting my sanity, and I hope I have helped them a little as well!