Monday, May 20, 2013

It Wasn't A Contest

In general it seems that our world has lost the ability to know what is appropriate to say and what isn't.  Strangers ask all sorts of inappropriate questions of about anyone but this becomes especially pronounced when you have children.  I used to believe this was a phenomenon reserved for pregnant women.  After all, the moment the world can tell your expecting people feel entitled to know when your baby is arriving, how much weight you've gained, how your going to feed it, and to what early college program your sending the new bundle of joy.  Having had 6 babies I thought I had heard it all.  Then I discovered that as the mama of a large family people continued to feel entitled to share their unsolicited thoughts and opinions.  They comment on the size of my family as if I were trailing around 60 kids instead of 6.  After time you do get used to the comments and have several come backs ready; 'Yes, they are all mine', 'Its busy but we enjoy our time', 'I'm glad its me and not you too, I love my children',  and my favorite, 'Yes, I know what causes it and obviously I'm a fan.'. 

Much has been written about the lack of social filter many people walk around with.  Its been done and done well.  My friends frequently send me articles, lists or stories that covers the topic of what people say to those of us with more than 2.5 children and what can be said in return, either in jest, in anger or in an attempt to educate others.  Recently a friend sent me this article: Big Families, What We Wish You Knew by Gretchen Knuffle.  Included in this collection of lists was the top 5 things mom's of big families wish other people knew.  Number one on the list says this "We are not supermoms and you don't have to apologize for only having two and then explain why.  It wasn't a contest." 

I keep coming back to that statement.  It wasn't a contest.  It still isn't.  Our lives are not in competition with another as if there is only so much satisfaction to be had and you have to hurry up and gather all the happy before someone else takes it.  This rule applies to where you live, what you drive, what our hobbies are and most of all how we create our families.  It also very much applies to home schooling. Sometimes I find myself on the side of defending my choice to home school to those who would never consider it and sometimes I find myself trying to reassure someone who sends their kids to school outside of the home.

Truly I do not judge anyone for the educational choices they make with their kids.  I have shared with you the reasons I have chosen to home school my children.  All of my home schooling friends came to the decision to home school by very different paths.  Some were home schooled as children and wanted the same for their own.  Others had horrible public school experiences and wanted to spare their children.  Many chose to do so because of religious reasons and a few choose to do so because of their geographic location.  I have a friend who also has a large family and home schools some of her kids and sends others to public school all based on what is best for her individual child.  It works beautifully for them. 

Of course I also have many friends who do not home school.  Most have never considered it and thought I was weird when I began this journey.  Probably a few still think I'm crazy.  Many of my friends do not live in an area where they would have the amazing support that I am able to take advantage of in my community.  A few of my friends would love to but they doubt their ability to make it successful.  Lots of my friends have to work to support their families and so cannot physically be present to make that choice.   And I know that some mama's (and daddies) really, really need that time when their kids are out of the house safe with other adults who care about them.  All of that is perfectly understandable as far as I'm concerned. 

So however you educate your babies, be proud.  We are always their parent and always their first teachers.  Every moment our kids are learning things.  I am thankful that I am able to be home with my kids and be their teacher, even on the really hard days.  I am thankful that I have a diverse group of friends who are all loving their babies the best they know how and doing a fantastic job helping those babies grow up to be real people.  No matter your choices, know that I support you because it really wasn't a contest and no one else is going to use up your happy.

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