Thursday, February 10, 2011

Not Very Average

You will be extremely happy to know that you have nothing in common with me. You glide along through life like a leaf down a crystal stream. You tend to move in the direction everyone else is moving, and the road ahead of you is well lit, well marked, and mapped out. Your delightful children have been welcomed with open arms by everyone they’ve met, and your home is a sanctuary of peace, harmony, and good will. Best of all, your homeschooling experience has been the most rewarding and inspiring era of your life, and you’ve never doubted your calling for even a moment.
Absolutely nothing in common with me.

Me . . . my life has been slightly different. My leaf tends to get stuck against every wet shore and bottom of the stream, my course is random and full of stops and starts, and the road I am on has been steep up and steep down, ox bowed, and sent on unknown detours.  Frankly, I’ve been tempted to quit homeschooling more times than I’ve been tempted to cheat on my diet, and that is saying a lot. However, while my life in no way resembles yours, you needn’t feel sorry for me one bit. I like my life . . . actually, I love it - - every little bit of it - - it's completely me.

So many things in life seem designed with "average" in mind, don’t they? Airplane seats are designed for an average-sized person, cars are designed for average usage, time schedules are for those who arise with the sun and tuck in with the moon, clothing is manufactured for average, and bestsellers are certainly written for the average reader.  Our society caters to the average and I just can't fit inside of those boundaries.

Earlier tonight I felt such sadness when I overheard some parents talking with disappointment that their son didn't perform at school in a way that would have pleased his teacher. Or the first time my son was teased on the playground for dressing in his own inimitable way.  Or how my daughter felt getting "looks" when her clothing choice was her own unique style.  How in the world can "average" appeal to most people.  How can people be comfortable in the margins like that?  Frankly, I don't think that most people ARE comfortable there.

Homeschoolers have long been marginalized too, but over the years, we've earned our stripes.  Within the homeschooling community, there are now groups that help people fit in. There are Christian homeschoolers, unschoolers, Classical schoolers, Waldorf schoolers, Montessori schoolers, and traditional schoolers. Would you believe that I don’t fit into any of those either? We are secular homeschoolers, we've read some classics, but our exposure to Ulysses is limited to the silver screen, and I have tried almost every possible method of homeschooling out there over the years only to find that NONE of them are exact matches for my family. I suppose we simply don’t assimilate well.  But, the truth is, I love the welcome freedom to be ourselves, our unique selves.

And I have found a number of ways that life is meeting me head on and welcoming my lack of "average". Netflix started catering to our time schedule as well as our diverse interests.  Our homeschool group contains people from nearly every culture found in North America, and with people who enjoy the differences.  When my daughter decided to give middle school a taste, she was vastly interested in seeing just how "normal" she is.  She was pleased to discover that there was no "normal" way expected in that school that she was interested in pursuing!  And our home life is as far outside of the box as is possible.

I have learned over time that swimming against the current is actually inevitable for me.  When I embrace the uniqueness that I happen to have been born with, there is no way for me to completely fit in.   Many of my friends embrace their own sets of unique qualities also...  So, I expect and enjoy it that my leaf takes a few hits as it heads downstream. I'm embracing the idea of being unique . . . 

Because of this, I know that when I hit the river blocks of life, my path around them is going to be unique and all my own. When my children face their own challenges of being different, they have learned to celebrate those differences! Being different means being whole, I think.  It means being real.  It means having the integrity to be myself.

Come to think of it,  you're not all that "average" either..!

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