Lately I’ve been reflecting on how our relationships change when we become parents.
My relationship to my husband, myself, my community, and my friends transformed on account of parenthood.
And I didn’t see that coming.
I thought life with children would be much like life before, just messier.
I think I called my friends to apologize for the curveball but – with a screaming baby in my arms – said we might never finish a phone call again.
Then I promptly hung up.
We made it through, of course. (Mostly because my friends soon had children of their own and they started hanging up on me, too.)
The second curveball came when we chose to homeschool.
Somehow I didn’t see that one coming either. But homeschooling (like parenting in general) changes our relationships.
We committed to homeschooling on the day of kindergarten registration.
Living two blocks from a Waldorf school made the decision to keep our kids home more difficult.
With its softly painted walls, song-filled teachers, and baskets of seashells, the school looks like the world I want to live in. (But bigger, and with more kids.)
So we kept stalling on making our decision.
But as we prepared our son for kindergarten I realized that I didn’t want to send him to school. Not even that school.
As we set off to register I blurted, “Let’s stay home. I want to homeschool!”
And we did.
We saw our truth, closed our eyes, and leaped.
Most of my friends never questioned their trip to kindergarten registration.
They were as thrilled to send their kids to school as I was to keep mine home.
I’m glad that we both found our right answer. There is beauty in our differences.
As their children head to school my friends now contemplate their next career move, preparing for when the youngest heads out the door as well.
They are excited for the next chapter.
And all the while I am here. Firmly rooted with my children, where I’ve spent the last decade.
I can’t imagine it any other way.
Redefining my friendships
Homeschooling – like motherhood – has shaped my life.
Our schedule, my ever-present children, even the book on my nightstand and how and when we socialize. All are touched by this decision.
And because of that I’ve changed the game on my friends once more.
I’m unlikely to accept a social invitation from a friend while her children are at school.
Because this is my time to be present with my kids.
While we gather frequently with other homeschooling families and connect with adults who serve as mentors, I’ve consciously drawn the line at socializing with my non-homeschooling friends during our homeschool week.
Because my kids deserve my focus. It’s the commitment that I’ve made to them.
In fact, it’s my job.
How well do my non-homeschooling friends understand the changes in our friendship in recent years?
Sometimes I wonder if it just feels as though I’ve lost interest in their company.
It seems there are a few things I have not explained.
Perhaps it is time.
An open letter to my non-homeschooling friends
Let me begin with this: I love you.
I treasure your friendship and look forward to all we will share in the days yet to come.
I want to acknowledge the changes that homeschooling has brought to our friendship.
Homeschooling has shifted my priorities, my interests, my schedule, and indeed my relationships.
When our kids were small I was as eager as you to visit. But lately I’ve rejected most of your invitations to socialize.
Heck, I often don’t even answer the phone. (But you know that already.)
The reason I don’t connect during the week like your other friends do is because I am working.
Working on homeschooling my children.
Even when it doesn’t look like we’re “doing school” we are engaged in learning.
- While we prepare lunch we’re working on fractions and sequencing.
- While we pull weeds we’re studying invertebrates, botany, and soil science.
- After lunch we’ll do some math, spelling, and play games that help us with problem-solving, reading, and cooperation.
Homeschooling is my full-time job. And it requires my focus.
I wouldn’t have it any other way.
But that means that I won’t likely invite you over for coffee while I prepare lunch. And I can’t take a walk with you in the morning while your kids are at school.
Because I’m walking a different path now.
I ask you for your patience and understanding as our friendship shifts once again.
Though our lives look different than each others now, I’m grateful to have you by my side. (However rarely I am able to make that happen in the truest sense.)
The journey I am on is long, challenging, and incredibly rewarding. I wouldn’t trade it for the world.
And I’m glad you’re here, cheering me on, and forgiving me for saying no to that coffee date yet again.
How has homeschooling changed your relationships? How do you make time to connect with your friends?
Originally published on September 5, 2012.