What new circles have you formed? Any unexpected ones? Did you start a book club or hang out in a tea yurt? Maybe you re-upped with existing friends. Explore your kumbaya moment from 2015.
When my husband and I bought our first house, it was in a brand new subdivision full of brand new starter homes. Most of the neighbors moving in were in the “acquisition” stage of life, like we were. We were all fresh out of college, starting families, buying furniture, and for some weird reason, hosting Tupperware type parties. At first, it seemed a good way to meet the neighbors and make friends—invite them to your Pampered Chef party or go to their scented candle party…and buy overpriced stuff, of course.
These parties were always touted by the hostess as a “girls’ night out” and they did have that air, at least until the sales pitch started. I’ll admit, I hosted a few myself, but I found that attendance at my parties was pretty low, as were the sales—probably because when I attended others’ parties, I didn’t spend a lot of money, if any. At first I did—buying up rubber stamps and food choppers and jewelry, but after awhile, I realized how ridiculous and wasteful it all was. So, I quit buying—but I still got invitations for awhile, and I was hungry for friends (hard to come by in the pre-Facebook world as a stay-at-home mom bound by nap schedules) so I would go for the party atmosphere and some socializing. I thought the ladies that invited me to these things were my friends, but shortly after I quit throwing money toward whatever things they were peddling, The invitations dried up and I didn’t really see my “friends” anymore, except at church on Sundays.
The gals at church were nice, but I didn’t click with most of them, and it wasn’t for lack of trying. I’m not exactly sure why I didn’t end up in one of the clearly delineated groups of close friends. I would hear them talking about the birthday parties they’d put on for their kids together or the work out groups they’d formed, and wonder why I wasn’t invited. Fortunately, over the years, I made a couple or three very close friends as they moved into the area—but we gradually lost touch when they moved back out. I spent a lot of time feeling pretty lonely and discouraged and left out as a young mother. This bugged me, because it felt like an adult version of junior high or high school.
It wasn’t until my husband and I decided to homeschool our kids that I found my people. We didn’t know a whole lot about what resources were available, or how many other people in our area homeschooled, so I immersed myself in research. I found a couple of homeschooling conferences and met with many, many homeschooling families---at first I went to conferences and meetings to see what kind of weirdos did this homeschooling thing, but I was happily suprised to find that most homeschoolers are perfectly normal, not the ultra-conservative, borderline religious fundamentalists I had seen on TV. I learned that our city had a large and thriving homeschooling community and information and access to so many educational resources it made my head spin.
There were several homeschool support groups in the area and I tried to join them—only to find that in order to participate in their activities, I had to sign a statement of faith that conflicted with my own beliefs. I was disappointed and hurt by how exclusionary these groups turned out to be, but eventually stumbled onto a support group that didn’t require a statement of faith and, in fact, made it very clear that ANY homeschooling family was welcome. It turns out this group was founded by some Mormon homeschoolers FOR Mormon homeschoolers, since no other group would take them. While there was definitely a Mormon flavor to the group, it was purposely set up to be inclusive, and in the years I’ve been involved with it, we’ve had homeschooling families of all stripes join the ranks.
It was in this group that I found the friends I so desperately desired. The group hosts monthly “Mothers’ Meetings” where women can get together and discuss all things related to home education, motherhood, and life. I found this group incredibly supportive as a new, bewildered, stressed out homeschooler. It was so reassuring to talk to “veteran” moms, who had years of experience teaching their own, and commiserate or celebrate with the other “newbie” moms.
My family has since moved from our starter home, and found our place in our new church congregation, but the constant has been my homeschooling moms’ group. I laugh and cry and pray with these women, go on adventures and retreats with them and their families, and we teach each other’s children. Homeschooling mothers think outside the box and are so incredibly generous with their time and knowledge---it was easy to make friends, feel included, and in turn, support the other women in the group.
It was in my homeschooling group that I found real camaraderie and friendship, and confidence as a mother, teacher, and leader. I now serve on the administrative board of the group as the membership and social media coordinator, and I love being part of such an awesome group of women and families.