Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Homeschooling, Working, Writing, Mothering

As we're headed into fall and the boys are gearing up for school I'm beginning to get invitations to be a part of various homeschooling activities. I often have to turn these down or work out a way to get the boys back and forth with Gary dropping them off and my picking them up.

My work schedule is erratic by design, but, between my husband and I, we make sure that schooling takes precedence over all other activities. From Monday through Friday everything else stops from about 8:30am to 3:00 or so and we focus on our books. On the days I can't be there, my husband oversees what I've laid out. It took two years to work the bugs out in this system, but by our third year we were rolling smoothly.

I don't give this a lot of thought unless I run across someone who disapproves of my working and homeschooling (can't be done right unless you're undivided), or working mothers in general, or homeschooling in general, or someone who thinks I'm not working enough or they're horrified because I'm talking about quitting work (must be lazy). I get all kinds and I've learned to blow past it. I'm a little worse for the wear, but my kids are better than fine.

This evening I got a call from a member of the first group. This is the woman who asked a circle of Christians to pray for my twelve year old son's soul last summer because she was concerned by his fascination with Stephen King type stories and images (Gee, can't imagine where he inherited that from . . . ). I learned about this because standing in this circle was my oldest son who had just helped her run a very successful VBS program. He repeated this to me because he found it amusing. I was not amused (I now know what my mother used to mean when she described herself as mad enough to"spit spiders"). So I haven't had a great deal to say to her since. I've not been rude, I've just kept my distance when we've run into one another.

This evening she delivered several small, veiled criticisms in the middle of otherwise pleasant statements. "I know you're really busy with your program and all, driving everywhere and working long hours, but I wanted you to know your kids could come to this if you had time . . . " and "Oh! I thought your husband did all the homeschooling so you could work. I guess I misunderstood . . ." Clearly my son wouldn't be interested in such dark things if I was home more.

She is from that same community of people who I just don't discuss writing with. In part because most don't understand (or think it's a waste of time or that I'm giving myself airs). I also don't mention that I write because I don't want to tell this community what I write. I'm not ashamed or embarrassed, I just don't want to hear about it--directly or indirectly. Just mentioning that I like science fiction is enough to raise several sets of heathen-seeking hackles.

I must confess though, that there's a morbid part of me that is dying to experience the response. Will they form a circle and pray for my soul too? Will I be overcome by a sudden urge to throw out my computer? Take up knitting? Learn to play the piano?
Burn all my books?


Anonymous said...

Mary ~
As a former "holy huddler" (now an "outcast"): I am so sorry for the lack of support and positive regard from these other women! It took me about 15 yrs to wake up to the fact that there is no room for such judgmental,narrow minded,opinionated, pettiness. It wasn't until my early to mid-thirties that i realized i was wrong ~ all for the sake of trying to conform and be accepted into the Midwestern, conservative Christian ideology. Even though i didn't feel genuinely cared for, i tried to walk in step with such people from the time of my conversion in college at about age 19. There's no doubt in my mind i hurt others ~ and maybe myself most ~ for dismissing those i never took time to know, but instead chose to disregard and misunderstand. I'm so sorry for that. I can't go back, but i want to say to you: your depth and sincerity are so evident throughout your Blog! You are a sincere Christian, and on top of that: a wonderful, interesting, compassionate, intelligent, generous individual. It is a real shame that arrogance and ignorance enable such barriers to respect and kindness arise, and walls of isolation to prevail: it really is their loss! I stand in amazement that you haven't let these frustrations erode your efforts at fellowship. (And i gather that is in large part to your genuine dedication to being a good and godly mother and wife!) For myself, a 43 yr old "woman" (still struggling to feel grown-up...sigh...) who could not have children and we chose not to adopt or foster, i find great encouragement within a poem of Emily Dickinson's:

"Some keep the Sabbath going to Church--
I keep it, staying at Home--
With a Bobolink for a Chorister--
And an Orchard, for a Dome--

Some keep the Sabbath in Surplice--
I just wear my Wings--
And instead of tolling the Bell, for Church,
Our little Sexton--sings.

God preaches, a noted Clergyman--
And the sermon is never long,
So instead of getting to Heaven, at last--
I'm going, all along."

I miss corporate worship and fellowship ~ and i think parenthood would have pushed us to endure more ~ but i've pretty much lost hope for finding such comradeliness this side of heaven. I cheer your efforts to hang in there ~ the hollowed walls of our churches need to be found with real and genuine people like you and your family!

Mary O. Paddock said...

Dear Anon,

Many thanks for your encouragement. I'm a little overwhelmed by your note. You've given me a lot to think about and I do love that Emily Dickinson poem.

You're right, being responsible for the spiritual well-being of my children has a lot to do with why I make the sometimes reluctant choice to go to church.

There are so many groups out there now who worship in so many different ways. I hope you find a place that you're comfortable in.


Scotty said...

It sounds a bit like that moral high ground that some people live on just so they can look down and find fault with you. I've never understood that - so much for acceptance(as best ideal) or tolerance (at least) of others.