It seems that throughout my homeschooling journey I’ve gone through various stages in how I express what I do when someone asks if I work. I think these stages are pretty common amongst homeschoolers and I’ve narrowed it down to a select three that I will discuss here today.
Stage One – Apology:
This is the beginning. You’ve just started homeschooling and a friend or acquaintance, or maybe even someone you don’t know, asks “Do you work?” It seems like a fairly simple question, but since you’ve just started this homeschooling process the answer is more of an apology.
“Oh, I’m sorry, I don’t actually have a job. Well, not a real job. I mean, I homeschool. So I’m home all day. I’m just a mom.”
We all go through this. Society is full of condemnation for people who go against the norm, and when you start to homeschool you are leaving what has been engrained in people as normal. You take a different path. You feel nervous about it. You aren’t sure how people will react, so you apologize for not appearing more normal and lock yourself into that age old “just a mom” label.
Stage Two – Justification:
By the time you reach stage two, you’ve figured out that people are going to judge you no matter what you say, so you attempt to justify your school choice by justifying theirs. The conversation starts with, “Do you work?”
“Well, I’m a homeschooler. Homeschooling is important to our family. We just feel it is best for our kids. Not to say that you are wrong for choosing public school. Each family is different. We homeschool because it suits our needs, but you don’t have to homeschool. We are all just parents doing our best.”
At this stage, you’ve grown tired of apologizing. You aren’t sorry for your choice, but you still recognize that by your choice you are a bit abnormal. You want people to understand that you are doing your best so you make it loud and clear that this is the best for you and for your family. You double up the justification by attempting to make the other party in the conversation feel comfortable about their choice, even though they were probably never uncomfortable to begin with. And you end it by making sure that everyone within earshot knows that you know we are all trying our best.
Phew! Dodged that judgmental bullet!
Stage Three – Own It:
And then one day something happens and you stop apologizing and justifying altogether. This is the stage I have finally reached. I knew I hit this stage yesterday when I was asked, “Do you work?”
“Yes, I work. I work from home. I homeschool my kids. Seventh and fifth grade, every day of the week. I work hard.”
And that was that. It was a simple answer to a simple question. And I owned it. Stage three is the stage where you know what you are doing and you no longer feel the need to make other people comfortable with it. I know that any homeschoolers out there will be thinking about the judgment that still comes during this stage, but I want to encourage you a bit on that front. When you reach stage three and you own your homeschooling – own your decision – the judgement is no longer a big deal. The response I got yesterday was unlike any response I had ever received. It was simply a nod of the head and these words, “That’s interesting.”
That was it.
Was it judgmental? I could probably dissect the reply, but why bother? I stated my truth with the confidence of anyone working any other outside of the home job. And in doing so, I didn’t need to apologize. I didn’t need to justify.
It’s like a superpower. I’m a freaking rockstar. I own it!