I was at the store today when I met this older woman who berated me for not being in school today. (What can I say, I still look 15.) I explained to her that I had graduated 5 years ago and told her that I was a Stay at Home Mom.
"A Stay at Home Mom," she asked, "how do you socialize if you aren't at work?"
I explained to her that I have a Husband, family, and a group of friends I see regularly, some that I met when I was younger, some that I meet through the groups we join as homeschoolers or volunteering and I also meet people daily at at the store, like her. That we have become good acquaintances with the librarians and the people at the Farmer's Market too. I went on to say that I have met many interesting, different people, and that I think it is a breath of fresh air to meet so many new people regularly.
Still, she insisted that I can't have an adequate social life unless I worked. So we agreed to disagree.
And the conversation continued. Finally it hit her that I had said "Homeschool Groups" so she asked me, "You homeschool? Who taught you how to do that? Do you really think you are qualified to teach your child?"
"Well," I explained, "When I want to learn about something that applies to me, I research it in depth. I don't stop until I have had enough. I spent 3 years researching homeschool styles and looking up advice before we started. And I still read and learn about it all the time. I have researched curriculum. I have found groups in our area..." "Poppycock! You need a teacher! You should not be homeschooling your child unless someone has taught you how to. You can't possibly know everything you need to know-" "That is true," I agreed, "But that is the great thing about continually learning. I am always finding new ideas and new ways to do things that work better for us, just like they do in the workplace. My mind is always working, even if I don't have a boss over me to teach me or tell me what I need to learn."
Still, she disagreed. And the conversation moved forward.
"But don't you feel like you are not doing your part in society-without a job? You are snubbing your community by refusing to send your child to school and get a productive job. It is good enough for the other children, so it should be good enough for yours." Frustrated at this point, I explained to her all that we give back to the community-without pay. As if raising the next generation is not enough to contribute...We volunteer regularly at a Pregnancy Center. Nothing gives more to this Community/World than a new life does. We have started volunteering at a local school. We shop locally. We recycle locally. We study our community's rich History. We live and breathe Community. We live for Local Relationships.
But again, she did not agree.
She told me that Taco Bell was hiring, and no matter how much more productive I think I can be from home, that I need to have a job. That is just how it is. That is the only way for me to socialize, to learn, and become a productive member of society.
I was appalled. In all of my...4, almost 5 years since becoming an adult-I had never been treated like this before.
Sounds absurd, doesn't it? That somebody would say, as adults, we can only socialize in the workplace? That we would only further our learning and be productive when given external motivations such as pay raises and promotions. That we are not productive unless we are doing what society demands of us.
Then why is it okay to say and think these things of children? Why is it okay to say that the only way that they will socialize is inside the walls of a school? Why is it okay to say that the only way they will learn is if they are externally motivated by gold starts and good grades?
Why is that okay?
We need to quit looking at ourselves as superior to our children, like we don't need what they need. My daughter and I, aside from age, are one in the same. We both have needs for food and for sleep. We crave love and attention. We thirst for knowledge of the World. And we find it. We find all those things. We eat. We sleep. We love one another. And we find ways to learn. We are there to walk with our children like Jesus walks with us. We are there to guide them, but give them freewill, like God gives us. We are the "in between," and we are here to set the example, not to dictate. We are the same. So why does one need what the other does not?
Disclaimer: I hope that it was obvious to everyone that I made this story up for the purpose of this post. For people to read and see how absurd it is for somebody to be so closed minded to something so normal and natural, staying home with your kids. As adults, nobody makes a big fuss over our social lives or how much we are learning or if we are doing enough with our day. We just are. We do. We live.