For eight years I homeschooled my children. It was the perfect choice for our entire family…until one day it wasn’t. My oldest son was made to be around people (he’s like his mama that way). Socialization and structure fill his cup to overflowing in a way that is so different from his siblings. He was always hardworking while learning at home, but he wasn’t happy. So, as any good mama bear who wants the best for her cub would do, I cried, prayed, and began to research other options for educating my son.
He has been in his new school for a few months now, and I can tell you, without a doubt, that enrolling him there was the absolute BEST thing we could have ever done for him. Every single morning he tells me that he loves his new school more and more. And the huge grin that plasters his face as he walks into his classroom each day has brought me to thankful tears on more than one occasion. But it dawned on me the other day that I almost missed this. He almost missed this because his mama was terrified of what other people would have to say about our new school choice. I was afraid of being judged and having my heart misunderstood. I feared my homeschool community would accuse me of jumping ship to go the way of the world (some of them did), and I feared my public school friends would take offense at our decision to privately educate (some of them did).
I was afraid because I knew the truth: the Shame Game between mamas is STRONG, especially when it comes to school choice.
As mamas, we all want the best for our children when it comes to their education. So, we study them. We learn about our children’s strengths and weaknesses. We spend time assessing our personal beliefs, our family dynamics, and our resources. And then we must make the very best educational choice for our children that we can with what we’ve been given. These are things that every single mama bear on the face of this earth must do as she raises her cubs. But the Shame Game begins when we start to assume that the educational choice we made for our children is the exact same choice that everyone else should make for theirs. For some reason, we seem to feel threatened when other mamas choose to educate differently than we do, and we begin to lash out in an attempt to feel better about our own choice. We stand on our soapboxes (or we log into Facebook), and we let the world know what we think of anyone who makes a choice that is different from ours. We crush other mamas underfoot in order to climb higher in our own minds. The Shame Game is complete madness, but there is another way!
What if, as a sisterhood of mamas, we started supporting our individual educational beliefs instead of fighting for them? Supporting lends the idea that we have the freedom to share our heart without pushing anyone else down in the process. What if we stepped off of our soapboxes (where there’s only room for one) and linked arms with the mamas standing next to us regardless of our differences of opinions? What if we reminded ourselves that no matter the path we take to get there, we all have the same end goal in mind: to raise kind, hardworking, knowledgeable children that will one day leave this world better than they found it? Because let me assure you; the mamas standing next to you are amazing.
I know public school mamas who put their babies on big, yellow busses or wait in long carpool lines every single day. They join the PTA, they volunteer in the classroom, and they chaperone fieldtrips. They invest in their community by supporting their local school because they believe strongly that every child deserves a good education. Public school mamas are my heroes.
I know private school mamas who work extra hard to help financially support their child’s education. They rise early to iron uniforms and pack school lunches. They, too, join the PTA, volunteer in the classroom, and chaperone field trips. (See? We’re all much more alike than we might think!) Private school mamas are my heroes.
I know homeschool mamas who work harder than you could ever imagine (read: spending every waking moment with your children). They spend hours sorting through curriculum. They simultaneously bounce a baby on their hip while helping their second grader with subtraction. They constantly wonder if they are doing enough. Homeschool mamas are my heroes.
Behind every school choice is simply a mama who loves her babies. The Shame Game must stop, and it starts with you me.