06 May 2012

My Co-Op Community

My kids and I joined TEACH Co-op last fall. I need to admit I’ve known about the Teach Co-op for several years. At the time I first heard about them I chose not to join because I thought it cost to much money, and I was already organizing low cost (almost free) co-ops in my home. I also didn’t want to give up a whole day of my week, and get up and be somewhere on someone else’s schedule and what about naptime, my babies needed to be home for naptime.

Last summer I was in the midst on Mom Meltdown. I knew I couldn’t do it all, I didn’t even want to try to do it all any more. I wasn’t sure what to do, putting them in school wasn’t an option, my daughters have no desire to go to school, even though my son occasionally asked to attend school, I know that he would hate life very quickly, and I believed that even though I wasn’t handling life very well they would still be better off at home, then any where else.

I ended up at a meeting with the chairman of teach co-op, and since we had known each other for a few years I felt confortable sharing my experiences with her, and the struggles that I was going through at the time. The time that we spend standing outside by our cars talking and crying was very healing for me. She invited me to join the co-op and even when I explained that I didn’t think that I had it in me to actually teach a class she said that it was ok, she would find something that I would be comfortable doing. As I thought about it I decided that I needed to do something for my kids and at least this way they would get something out of this school year and it would give me some more time to work through the healing process.

Right from the very beginning my kids loved co-op. They were all in age appropriate classes and were able to quickly make friends and learn from teachers that weren’t Mom. I however, was very withdrawn. While the other Mom’s gathered into the nursery to sit and visit with each other, I kept to myself and my computer.  The Mom’s were welcoming to me, and I felt that there was one Mom in particular who always seemed to have a special smile for me, and I never could figure out why. I never felt excluded, instead I was afraid to join the group for other reasons.

I was going through a period of time where I needed to find myself. One thing that I know about myself is that even when I am miserable, depressed, and in the depths of despair I can find some peace by serving others. I’m not saying that serving other’s is a bad thing, or that it isn’t a great way to change your mood, but I tend to go overboard. I tend to spend so much time worrying about others that I don’t give my family the time and energy that is there right, I don’t give my husband the care and concern that he deserves, and I especially don’t take care of myself. Instead I tend to serve others to the point of sheer exhaustion.

So – to solve this problem, I was avoiding people. I already had a network of friends, friends that needed me in one way or another, and I was afraid to make more friends. I was afraid to take on my responsibility in building and maintaining relationships. So, I kept to myself, I was polite, and courteous, but didn’t reach out, and didn’t really want anyone to reach out to me.

Eight months have come and gone now since we have joined the co-op. My kids have thrived in this environment. My scholar aged girls have gained several friends, both peers and adults. My younger kids have enjoyed some fun activities that I haven’t had the mental energy to provide for them in the home this year. Most importantly, I have started to come out of my self imposed shell, and open up to those that are around me. This weekend had been an eye opener to me as to how important this co-op has been in our life. I am so glad that I have a community of fellow homeschoolers that are working together to educate our kids. I am so glad my my kids are meeting teachers that are inspiring to them and are motivating them to learn in ways that I can’t because they are so much more knowledgeable and passionate about subjects that I don’t know much about, and wouldn’t be very inspiring teaching.

I hope that all the ladies that I have had the privilege of sharing a learning environment with this past year can forgive me for my sullenness and aloofness. I hope that they understand that I appreciate all the hard work and dedication that they have given to teach my kids, when I couldn’t and in ways that I don’t know how. I am thankful that they have accepted me the way for who I am and in the place that I was at the time, and that as I have come out of my shell they have continued to make me feel included, but have allowed me the space that I need to be myself, without making me me inferior for who I am.

I am proud to be part of this community, and hope that we can continue to grow our relationships and interdependence over the years to come.


Janet said...

I am so glad your family joined our co-op. We've enjoyed having all of you around. You took the time to talk to me one morning when I was struggling with some stuff and talked about your loss last summer. :-) It doesn't matter if you want some time to yourself during the day. Most of us want some time to ourselves. It's a pleasure to fellowship with women who have made similar life choices... and heaven knows... we ALL need some time to decompress and just be. You have always been welcoming and I love your input on curriculum and class ideas.

hayngrl101 said...

Nancy, I am just an old friend far too long out of touch. But I just wanted to tell you that I think you are an amazing woman and I've always admired you.

I love following your blog and keeping up with what's going on. You have traveled a hard road and I appreciate the reality of your words and how honest you are with working through the process.

It helps me keep perspective about my own difficulties and more importantly, helps me to understand how I can be a better friend and support to my family and friends who are traveling on similar roads.

((Hugs)) You are loved. Love, Kamaile from Moscow.