HS #280 Moms and Best Good Homeschool Friends with Jennifer Cabrera
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HS EP 280
Hello and welcome back to another installment of the Homeschool Solutions Show. My name is Wendy Speake, and I am one of the many hosts we have here on the podcast. Each week you'll hear from one of us inviting one of our friends to join for a conversation about this busy blessed season as we educate our children at home.
Now the title of the show is Homeschool Solutions. While we don't have the answer to every question, we know that all the solutions to every stress and every struggle can be found in the Person and presence of Jesus Christ and His living and active and applicable Word. We are so glad that you're here to join us for today's conversation. But before we start the show, I'd like to thank our sponsor.
Medi-Share. An affordable and Biblical healthcare alternative. Find out more at mychristiancare.org for their ongoing support of homeschooling families just like yours.
And now, on today's show.
Best good homeschool friends. Do you have one, two, seven, none?
Hi, Jennifer Cabrera here, the Highfalutin Homeschooler, writer, and speaker of homeschool truth and humor. And, let me start by saying the best defense against the homeschool blues, and burnout is a best good home school friend that will listen to you lose your mind and then cry with you or at least laugh at you if you're being ridiculous. And if need be, they'll even be as outraged as you when someone dumps on your kids, or your homeschool choices, or your personal method of homeschooling or lack thereof.
And the best, best good homeschool friends will also agree with you when one of your kids is acting like a spoiled poop, or even point out if you yourself need to simmer down and take a timeout before setting your curriculum on fire.
Now, though they may point out where you went wrong, best good homeschool friends never say you should give up. Or they never offer to drive you to the nuthouse like some of those pesky family members and acquaintances who might not fully support your choice to homeschool. No. What a best good homeschool friend will do is this. When you're feeling especially low, inadequate, useless, and ready to quit, they will confess to you the time they hid in the closet and ate an entire sleeve of cookie dough while looking up public school registration requirements on their phone. Or they'll tell you about the time CPS showed up at their house for lunch and an interrogation because of a nosy neighbor.
Because best good homeschool friends have been there. Or they're just making up homeschool horror stories to make you feel better about yourself. Nevertheless, real friends keep it real. Sugar-coated fair weather friendships are just another chore homeschool moms don't need to add to their list, which is probably why a lot of us only have very few, if only one, or none, best get home school friends because any other kind of friend is exhausting.
And every homeschool mom needs at least one person to keep it real with. Someone who understands how much you can love and loathe homeschooling all at the same time and not bat an eye when you declare that you want to quit while simultaneously buying new curriculum at a homeschool convention.
If you don't have a best good homeschool friend yet, don't fret. These things take time and reflection. It took me a while to find myself a best good home school friend. My first years of homeschooling were the loneliest, though honestly, I was so busy and overwhelmed, I didn't know I was lonely at all. Right after escaping the carpool line, most of the mom friends I had at that point figured I'd cracked and had basically tide on my own straitjacket. Or maybe they were worried it was contagious. Or possibly my decision to leave the system called into question their decision to stay. After all, I was telling them that I found the whole mess inadequate.
But whatever the reason for the cold shoulders I received after reclaiming my right to raise and educate my own kids, I was suddenly an outsider. And since I didn't own a goat or a denim jumper yet, I didn't feel that I fit in with the homeschool mom crowd either. I sort of floated lonely between two worlds. One where friends were fading away, confused and threatened by my rebellion, and another world where I only knew to be filled with stereotypes that I wanted to avoid.
So, I set off on my own with a hard head. I didn't need anybody. I was going to forge my own stereotype. Homeschool mom, but a cool mom. Control freak extraordinaire. Towanda Condaroga. Something like that. Now before I go on, know that you can totally homeschool without a herd or even the best good home school friend. We did it for years. Then we moved to a new area where we knew no one. I mean, I was cool with perpetual introversion, but my kids decided we should leave the bat cave and mingle. Which is why, in a moment of weakness, we joined a co-op. Now, if you want more details on that adventure, go to my blog and look for In a Moment of Weakness, We Joined a Co-op.
So, at the time, I dared to imagine finding a home school mom that I could be me around. Let all my opinions Intimidations and Inadequacy's hang out somewhere out. Somewhere out there. Huh! Okay. So that's a little sappy. Now, should all homeschoolers be involved in some kind of co-op or program? Absolutely not, unless you feel you must congregate. And then, absolutely yes. Unless you find it not academic enough. Or too academic. Or too Christian-timidating, which is a word that I made up at the time, and here means, made to feel less than Biblically adequate to hang with the click. I didn't speak Christianese like many of the homeschool moms, I admit. Now we are definitely a Christian family, and I could totally translate their meetings, and I agree wholeheartedly, usually.
I just felt those other moms were so perfect. they had chosen to homeschool from the start and would likely look down on the fact that I had let my kids watch PG movies and eat red dye number five. I was judging myself as not enough while simultaneously judging them for judging me before I gave them time to judge me. Do you follow me?
Okay, so cliques. How do they form? From judging each other and setting little unspoken rules of acceptance and weird group habits like deciding to wear pink on Wednesdays. And I'm sorry to say that homeschool moms, they formed cliques too. I know, right? It shocked the eager to make new friends out of me too. Okay, not really. I wasn't that eager. I was scared of people finding out that I didn't own a laminator. But let's face it though, we all hold fast to the common thread of defiance, against institutionalized learning, the similarities stopped there. With all the different reasons and ways to homeschool, we are probably more equipped to discriminate against one another than our public school counterparts.
Most unschoolers hang with like-minded unschoolers, which is practically a different genus and species from the more traditional school-minded mom who installed a school bell, intercom system, and a homework deposit box on her bedroom door the day after she decided to homeschool. And then there are the co-op moms who take up arms against each other over statements of faith and food allergy accommodations. Basically, we are all just women. We judge and sort each other subconsciously. And really, when you find the best good homeschool friend, you are sort of forming your own tiny little homeschool click that no one will suspect or accuse of prejudice.
Though I met my best good homeschool friend at co-op that one year that we participated, we were too busy keeping up the appearance that we actually loved to do crafts as much as the next homeschool mom that was trying to fit in, so much so that we didn't get to know each other until much later.
Keeping up appearances of perfection. As if homeschooling weren't lonely and hard enough already. So now I will insert a sweet flowery platitude. Here we go. Homeschooling is hard but worth it. Yeah, yeah, we've all heard that, and it's true. But it certainly doesn't feel worth it some Monday mornings when eyes are rolling and the coffee's not strong enough motivation to enforce or inspire learning. My best good homeschool friend and I totally believe and agree that homeschooling is so worth it speech. Most of us homeschoolers tell this to anyone interested in possibly homeschooling someday because it is true. It is worth it. For sure. But hard.
Seems a weak and inadequate word, doesn't it? Still, I can't think of a replacement that will encompass the feeling you get when your kid puts the entire weight of his career goals and teen emotions into one unpleasant grade on an algebra lesson. And then sets it in your lap while you were trying to pay a bill, cook dinner, schedule everything for everyone, and keep your marriage on speaking terms. Oh, and Mom, have you seen my wallet? My left shoe? Flash drive? Math book? Pet rat?
The fog of the homeschool blues sets in on the hardest days. You just don't get it till you're there.
See also Homeschool Nightmares on my blog. But a best good homeschool friend gets it. It's like when you're having a baby. For the first time, you buy all the cutesy crapola and stockpile diapers and practice breathing till you pass completely out from preparing. But like homeschooling, you just don't get it until you're in the trenches covered in lesson plans, coffee grounds, and outraged children, in defiance of your well-intentioned unit studies.
And then somebody asks what's for dinner and the switch flips and you can't clear that fuzz from your brain, and you're already tired tomorrow. No one understands this like another homeschool mom. A best good homeschool friend would understand. And listening to another parent in the trenches complain about how hard it is to homeschool is often the best medicine. Friends don't let friends complain alone. Misery loves company. And that's why I say if you don't have anything nice to say about homeschooling, come sit by me. I've written all about that, too, on the blog. Ten Things I Hate About Homeschooling.
I'm really good at homeschool bashing and so is my best good homeschool friend who I like to refer to as Forrest, for privacy reasons, and because it will make what I'm saying more relatable because everyone loves Forrest. Like Forrest and Bubba, my Forrest and I invested in our own fruit companies, so to speak, years ago, and therefore have much experience with homeschooling. She more than I, and thus we have tenure and can bash homeschooling without fear of termination or cut in pay. Pay. Haha. (Insert eye-roll)
Listen, I'm not crazy, I've just been homeschooling for years. So, in our little clique, you can't sit with us. Unless you're willing to admit that you yell at your kids accidentally on purpose on occasion. See, we are our own clique of homeschool survival. We don't identify with moms who claim to have it all together all the time. We don't need that kind of negativity in our lives. Wait, what did she say?
Yes, negativity. To claim to be calm, cool, collected, and perfected at all times can ruin the real in a relationship rapidly. And that, kids, is alliteration.
It's generally understood amongst most homeschoolers that only we are allowed to talk negatively about homeschooling. I mean, if you're going to bash homeschooling, you must have at least some knowledge of the game and maybe have played an inning or two or know a player or coach on a team which you've personally seen in action on and off the field. But we don't want to see others go around bashing homeschooling just because they heard from this guy who's going with this girl whose cousin saw Ferris pass out at 31 flavors last night because of homeschooling.
Obviously, Forrest and I don't just spend all our time together bashing homeschooling. That would be sad. No. We also complain about curriculum, our failed creatively wild teaching ideas, pointless co-op classes, overly hyped, boring group field trips and expensive activities, unwashed, uncut hair, unshaven legs, lack of sleep, lack of money, the price of a special tall coffee drink we sometimes need like oxygen, lost free time, pets that won't live, experiments that won't die, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera.
Oh, but we also spend as much time tooting our own homeschool flutaphones on the good stuff that we've achieved while homeschooling. We talk plans and hopes of homeschool triumphs to come. Because despite it all, we love homeschooling. It's the life we chose. And we're beyond thankful for the option. Even when we say we're a breath away from quitting, we know that we can hold our breath for years. And besides, we have too much to brag about too. We celebrate big goals achieved, like a kid earning his student pilot's license. And even little wins and sneaky homeschool tricks that other moms might not understand. Such as Forrest's kid thinks secretly listening to stories and podcasts in the dark depths of his room is borderline gangster, and that he's getting away with something. Forrest sneaks in occasionally to catch him and threatened to take his phone just to keep up the ruse. How awesome is that head game? High five, Forrest.
Also, we can brag to each other without feeling ridiculously petty or braggadocious. If you're homeschooled for any length of time, you know you can't go bragging to just any other parent about the awesome things your homeschooled kids are doing, mastering, achieving, or inventing, because it will either be no big deal to them, and they'll assume that you are ruining your kid by not keeping up with the institutional guidelines, or you just making fantastical things up to make them feel bad about their choice, not to homeschool. There's really no winning.
Things like how your kids chose to read a finance book over Christmas break for fun. They might assume you're lying or trying to make homeschooling look like the best way to educate kids or something. Gasp, I mean, if all signs too. Anyway, but a best good homeschool friend knows, this brag on a kid, displaying self-motivated learning is a silver lining masking nights of moms worries. Forrest knows that that same kid of mine that reads finance books for fun also wears his clothes backwards and inside out on purpose and is my favorite nerd on Earth. Gosh, he's weird. He could run a tech empire but may never master irregular verbs. And we couldn't be prouder if he had took in first place in Olympic ping pong.
See? We best good homeschool friends are each other's safe spaces. Now, others view our kids through homeschool goggles, which are lenses that caused the distorted view and assumption that our kid's quirks, shortcomings, and aggravating behaviors are a result of homeschooling alone. Forgetting the fact that all kids are unique or odd or amazing for a variety of reasons, homeschooled or not. But a best good homeschool friend knows better than to blame your child's shyness and fashion sense, or lack thereof, on homeschooling. And therefore, you are each other safe space to let the worries, wrinkles, and homeschool blues all hang out.
Best good home school friends are an essential on the homeschool supply list. Even more so than a laminator. Fight me. Now, if you don't have one, I recommend getting yourself a best good homeschool friend. They are the quintessential homeschool tool for mental survival. They come in handy right about the time you start looking into local charter, private, or public schools, just to imagine the possibilities. Heck, sometimes the best good homeschool friend has already read all about it and maybe even stuffed a kid in an overcrowded, underwhelming classroom of groupthink to show them how good they actually have it at home. And they can guide you through the steps needed to make a proper and lasting threat to your homeschooler, or at least talk you down from such a thing.
But who? When? Where? How do you find yourself a best good homeschool friend? Certainly, it would be creepy to whisper into the ear of the mom next to you at a homeschool co-op or convention. Psst! Hey! You wanna go get coffee and complain about our kids and swap transcript ideas? Okay, but next time you are with other homeschool moms, don't worry so much about keeping up appearances and try to be real with the other moms.
For instance, if someone mentions having a hard time with grammar at their house and asks for suggestions, don't say things like, oh my daughter just loved diagramming sentences last year with, insert glorious curriculum. No, she didn't. Be honest. She didn't love it. She tolerated it without complaint. Maybe she was satisfied to have mastered it and to please you. But what she loved was having friends over for the bonfire you made of curriculum to celebrate finishing English one and diagramming those sentences.
A better opening line might be, my daughter used such and such curriculum without blood, snot, or tears. She understood it all right. You want to meet for coffee sometime? I'll show it to you and then we can complain about our kids and swap transcript ideas. See? Keep it real. Be real. Let people see the familiar in you, not the resentful. You'll find that moms need the relief of knowing other moms are struggling, winning, losing, crying, graphing, and surviving and thriving, despite the struggles.
Homeschool moms are not exactly able to drop everything and go for coffee or shopping excursions. I know this. Believe me, I have no free time. My best good home school friend and I don't see each other for days and weeks at a time, right Forrest?
But we text. It's like getting instant mail when folding laundry. I dropped the pile of mismatched socks back into the basket, kick back and nod as she unloads on what is sitting on her last nerve today. And the emojis really tie her point together. Now we try to get together, at least once every couple of weeks or so over coffee and a gluten filled pastry when we get the chance. And we fill each other in our stresses, successes, and nonsense. I complain about my ingrates and she, hers, and anybody who dared to rag on our sweet little angels recently. And then I ask if she wants me to kill em. And then we laugh. And somehow, things feel a little lighter, and we just might make it till the next time we can meet for coffee. And when we do, it's like picking up in the middle of a conversation we never finished. Oh my God, girl, let me tell you what I found at the used bookstore today. Wait are you busy? Should I call back in an hour? Tomorrow? August? 2025?
Okay, so if you're listening right now and imagining Lucy and Ethel, well, that's pretty close to a snapshot of me and Forrest having coffee on a random Wednesday morning. If you don't yet have a best good homeschool friend, I hope and pray you find your Lucy or Ethel soon. It could be your husband, sister, Mom, retired teacher from next door who's seen the light and things are awesome, or a very new homeschool mom in need of a pat on the back or coffee and a slice of pie to cry into while you tell her all about the time you tried to give a spelling test in the dentist office waiting room. And it will make her feel so much better, because remember, keep it real.
And if you are lucky enough to already have a best good homeschool friend that you cherish, send them a link to this podcast and let them know you appreciate them for keeping it real and being your best good homeschool friend. It's like a Hallmark card, only better and free. You're welcome.
But let me also say thank you for hanging out with me again today. I sure hope your homeschool year is going great and continues to. And on a serious note, please remember, now more than ever, our freedom to homeschool relies on a free America and strong family values United to defend that freedom. If you can budget it, and aren't already a member, think about joining HSLDA, which stands for the Home School Legal Defense Association. So much has happened in this country that many once said, oh, that will never happen here. And it's happened over the last year and a half. Even free speech is under attack. And homeschooling is a bastion of free speech that many in power would like to regulate or end altogether, so we must stay vigilant.
Okay, steps down from her soapbox. Okay, I'd love to hear from you. Thoughts or concerns or best pie recipes. Send me a shout-out to [email protected] and also if you like to be social on social media, I'm at several places now to keep up with what everybody is doing these days and jumping ship and moving to others. I'm still at Facebook, still on Instagram, but I'm also now at Gab. You can find me on Pinterest, though I'm not very good at it. I think I say that every time. But you can also play around on my website, highfalutinhomeschooler.com.
And check out my books there. I have a program for reluctant middle school writers called Revolting Writing, and the companion workbook is coming out soon known as Grossout Grammar. Gonna be lots of fun. Who knew that grammar could be gross? Well, most middle school kids. But they will absolutely hopefully have a great time putting commas and adverbs where they go while grossing out their parents.
Also on my website, a whole list of all of the hilarious means that I've ever posted on any social media site, so you don't actually have to go to social media to see some of my great stuff. And also, there you can read some of my popular old blog posts and I now have a podcast link page there that links to only highfalutin homeschool episodes of the Homeschool Solution Show. So, check out those things. I look forward to hearing from you. And until next time, stay weird and homeschool on.
Thank you for joining us this week on the Homeschool Solutions Show. As always, you can find show notes and links to all the resources mentioned at homeschooling.mom. I hope you'll take a moment to subscribe to the podcast, and if it was especially meaningful to you, share it with your friends via email or social media. This is just another way we can all encourage and love and support one another.
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