Stereotypes & Sticking Out

Once upon a time, I swore I would never homeschool.

And the Lord laughed and laughed…

We’re in the second half of our fourth year of homeschooling and what a journey it’s been. I’ve mentioned frequently how thankful I am to be able to homeschool Little Miss & Little Man, and it’s a freedom I don’t take lightly.

When we started, though, I was a bit… adamant? Arrogant? Both?… that I would break the stereotype of a “typical” homeschool mom.

That first year I joined a group for first-timers, so I could pick up some homeschooling tips from the old pros. I wanted to homeschool well, but still avoid wearing denim skirts. Because, you know, that’s what all those other homeschool moms do.

One of the reasons I swore I would never homeschool was because of the stereotype I held in my head of what homeschoolers were. They were the bashful, quiet types, with large families, who wore denim skirts/dresses. Basically, Baptists.

(How many stereotypes have you counted so far…?!)

So when I joined this group, I wrestled and wrestled over what I would do during that first meeting. I didn’t want to make anyone else feel uncomfortable and I wanted to be welcoming and approachable even though I wasn’t “really one of them”.

Typing out this confession has me physically pained, I want you to know. I was such a fool.

That day I had worn jeans and a sweater as is my usual attire, no matter the season, and I thought it was uncouth for me to show up so casual. So I changed into a maxi skirt and french braided my hair before leaving for the meeting. I thought I would blend in, not stick out, and then once they got to know me, I could shock them less when I wore jeans and boots to a future gathering.

I drove off to the meeting of other first timer homeschooling moms and when I walked into that room, I stood out like a sore thumb.

And it serves me right.

When I walked into that room, I guarantee you every single one of the moms there turned to look at me and thought to herself, “Oh yeah, there is your typical homeschool mom…. There’s gotta be one in every group.”

They were the trendiest, cutest, with-it group of homeschool moms I had ever seen.

I WAS THE VERY STEREOTYPE I WAS TRYING TO AVOID. In my arrogance, I had played myself the fool.

And the Lord laughed and laughed…

We attend homeschool conventions, and yes, there are some who fit the stereotype of what I thought all homeschool moms were…. but there are also people who made their own mold, carved their own path, and decided to homeschool for reasons apart from their love of denim skirts.

I have friends who were homeschooling at the time, or even long before, we started, and none. of. them. fit that “stereotype” I clung so tightly to, yet I still thought in my mind that other homeschool moms – with the exception of my friends – were hair-bun, ankle-length-skirt, just-shy-of-Amish type mothers.

I left that first meeting incredibly humbled, and embarrassed of myself.

But just like in homeschooling, everything is a teachable moment. I learned a lot about the stereotypes I hold, the reasons I need to let them go, and that I am not so much different from other homeschooling moms, no matter the wardrobe camp they fall in to.

We all have a desire to instill the best in our children; in their education, their character, and their world-view.

So as we round out another homeschool year, I want to tell you I am not so naive as I once was about the types of people who homeschool – because there are too many to lump into a single group.

I also want to tell you it’s not lost on me how funny it is I’ve since become a head-covering-wearing, make-up-free woman, because those definitely fit the aged stereotype of homeschool moms….

I’m still not to the denim-skirt wearing stage, but if I ever end up there, I will embrace it with dignity and gratitude because homeschooling isn’t about what I wear or what style I have (or in my case, lack).

It’s about taking full advantage of the blessing of family, of teaching my kids everything I possibly can, and not getting caught up in the stereotypes of what that may look like to others.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to braid my hair and give the kids a lesson in sourdough baking.

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