We’ve been homeschooling long enough that the socialization thing is years past laughable around here. My kids interact with other kids at the pool, the park, community theater, library club, friends’ houses and on and on. The phone never stops ringing for the girls. They are veritable social butterflies.
The same can’t necessarily be said for me. I am the weird homeschool mom who doesn’t get enough socialization, who isn’t in all the mom clubs, dresses goofy and is just plain different.
I don’t have anything against being different. I like it, actually. I’m an odd duck and I can’t imagine being normal. But I do wish there were more odd ducks, or at least more people around who liked weird people. 🙂
We live in a tiny, tiny town. The population is around 700 and half of those are senior citizens who moved here after retiring from farming nearby. Almost everybody grew up here.
We moved here 15 years ago when we got a chance to buy our house for $2,000 cash. It was a dream opportunity and we changed our lives to take advantage of it. We’ve made this town our home and we’ve come to love it. In most ways, anyway.
There are ways of fitting in here if you’re a newbie. I’ve watched new women slide into place here and I know the drill. You join the Women of Today club. You volunteer for the school. You join one of the local churches and attend every function. You join the country club and golf when the weather is nice, and you play bingo and join the bowling league when winter comes.
The problem is that the Women of Today club bored the enamel off my teeth. We have nothing to do with the school, I’m partial to the UU church an hour away, I don’t golf and I’m not into bingo. I tried the bowling thing and gave it my all, but the bowling alley closed down so my one and only social opportunity went south.
I used to take the kids to ECFE and I tried to make friends there. I always felt a bit like a nerdy school kid again, though. I read too much and talk too much about things that other people find boring, I think. They’d bring in a speaker about nutrition and I’d happily talk about phytonutrients. Too late, I’d notice the other moms looking at me like I’d sprouted horns. Oops.
And I frankly didn’t relate to them. One of the leaders said she counseled teens not to take part in PSEO (free college classes during high school that will fulfill high school and college credit at the same time) because “high school is supposed to be all about fun.” Hmmm. I guess I’m really odd if I say that I took PSEO and thought it was fun. And since when is a program that will help your child finish college in half the time and pay for 2 years of tuition and books a bad idea? I kept quiet.
Today I walked up to the high school auditorium to meet the girls after play rehearsal. I was sick so I slipped on something that met my only requirements– clean and comfortable. That happened to be a black and white, polka dotted halter dress that shows a lot of cleavage. (Hey, I spent 29 years without boobs until this breastfeeding thing came along and I enjoy these things! )
If you’re going to wear a black and white, polka dotted halter dress that shows a lot of cleavage you had better look okay. I put on sunglasses, red lipstick and high heeled sandals, and Jack and I took off.
Lately we’ve been letting our ancient cat out during the day since the end is near and she loves it so much. The cat trotted along with us. When she got tuckered, I carried her.
The nearer I got to the auditorium, the more conscious I was of being a wildly dressed, bright red haired, oddball woman with a barefoot boy and a cat tucked under her arm.
Then the cat got spooked and took off, and Jack followed her home to make sure she was okay. I crossed my arms in front of my chest and tried to be inconspicuous.
I slipped into the back of the auditorium to wait with the other moms. A few made polite conversation and averted their eyes. Then they went back to talking with each other. The director (a 26 year old woman from Chicago who happens to have red hair) said “great dress!”. Too bad she leaves Sunday to mentor the next group of children.
The thing is, I wasn’t sorry I was wearing the dress (or the sunglasses, red lipstick or shades).
When I was a kid, I was always weird and oddly dressed. It took years of teasing in school to drill it out of me. I was 14 before I succombed and bought Lee jeans, polo shirts and Nike shoes. I hated them. By the time I was a sophomore in college, I was back to dressing my own way.
I want to wear low cut, polka dotted dresses and have flaming red hair.
I want to be fascinated by phytonutrients and to think learning is fun.
I want to take walks with my barefoot boy and an elderly cat tucked under my arm since she enjoys being outside so much.
And I really don’t want to join the Women of Today or take up golf.
The good news is that my kids think I’m fabulous and my husband quite enjoys me. And there are online friends, and people to go visit. There are some moms I’ve befriended in nearby towns.
Still, I miss having girlfriends nearby. I would so love to have friends who drop by several times a week to hang out. I’d love to take the kids to the park and talk politics, philosophy or even reality TV with the other moms. I’d like to feel free to be my nerdy, goofy, sarcastic, opinionated, sometimes tacky Pollyanna self and have someone even like me for it.
So I’m adding socialization to my goals for next year. Not for the kids, they’re fine. For me. I’m going to open my mouth and talk even when I think people will think I’m an idiot, since it’s the only way to find people who’d like the real me. I’m going to ask questions and try to excavate some people I’d like to learn more about. I’m going to venture out when I feel like hiding in the house.
And okay, I might even go back to the Women of Today. Maybe. Although I’d so prefer the bowling……