07 October 2010

open brings forth open

As opposed to last year when we deliberately avoided all home school groups, I have joined not one but two this year. (And, we put Little B in Awanas where he has already found a new bestest-kind of buddy!)

One group is a co-op style that meets every Friday except for the first Friday of the month (that day is reserved for field trips). The regular Fridays consist of Art, PE, Health, lunch and a social skills group led by an occupational therapist for a fraction of a fraction of the cost of what I'd find anywhere else. So far, we've been once and Miss C is in love with it and Little B will hopefully warm up a bit more to it. Baby J has his own little group to hang out with as well and so far he's okay. There is one lady I'm not real sure of in there, so we'll see. If it goes south, we'll just move on. And I'm good either way. I'll take it for what it is right now.

The other group is a lovely collection of Christian ladies who come together once a month at some one's home for a mom's time - late evening, snacks, fellowship, prayer, and support. Then they get the kids together for a field trip once a month as well. I went to the mom's group for the first time this week, and I knew one person which is very hard for me. The evening's topic was "grumbling and complaining" - each lady was encouraged to bring a tip, book, suggestion, verse, etc, that could be applied to the grumbles and complaints that arise in a home school setting. I had nothing. Nada. My situation goes so far beyond 'grumbling and complaining' that at first I was uncertain I should have even attended.

I arrived a little late, but that was more of a social time, not the group discussion, so what I really missed was filling out a card that told of an "aha moment" in my homeschooling. When my friend handed me a card, I looked at her, stricken, and said, "I don't know that I have one...we haven't even started really. I've done like three days of school so far!" Her response was that maybe that is what I had to share. The cards had been put into a basket and one person drew them out, read them and had everyone see if they could guess who wrote each one. As they went through the basket of cards, I sat pondering what I could say. I finally went last, winging it.

I want to insert here that I've been reading a book called "Shut up about your perfect kid" by Gina Gallagher & Patricia Konjoian. It's written by two sisters who each have a high needs daughter - one with Asperger's and one with bi-polar disorder. But the book is about coping and adjusting and dealing with the struggles that arise - and it references many other special/high needs, not just these two. One of the premises of what they share is how open they are with the struggles they face in handling their children's needs. They discovered that the more open they were, the more open others were in sharing their struggles as well. And the more open everyone was, the less of a stigma and the more manageable each struggle became. I find it very refreshing, and an easy, humorous read. In many ways, I see struggles so much bigger than my own that I feel reassured, too. One of my favorite stories was when one author was in the grocery store, waiting in a long line at the deli, and someone came up announcing loudly, "Hey! Guess what, I'm bipolar!" - she was secure in her struggle because she knew she had support and those who understood. Precious!

So, back to my story. . .as I pondered what to share, I knew I needed to let my guard down, but also preserve the dignity of my son and the fact that we don't fully understand everything going on with him yet. I weighed this with not wanting the other moms to be afraid of letting their kids play with him. I was glad I was able to speak last. I shared openly about why we started homeschooling, that last year was a pretty good year, that we'd barely schooled this year because the summer has been such an intense one and that our grumbling and complaining went beyond the average - that my son needs professional help (a hard thing to 'fess up to in front of 15 women you've never met!). And my aha moment was that I have the space and grace to adjust what I need how I need to meet his needs: be it curriculum or schedule or something else. It was good (and hard - I loathe the center of attention in groups that size, even when I know them....I was flushed from the effort!). I didn't feel criticized. And later, two different moms came up and were open with me - one specifically about a daughter's struggles and the other just saying that it sounded like we could easily get together and discuss our son's needs. I honestly hardly knew how to respond, but saw the opportunity for so much more in the year to come.

Open brings forth open.
In amazing ways.


StephieAnne said...

I've always felt that meeting someone willing to be vulnerable is the biggest predictor in whether or not I want them to be my friend!

Well done, it sounds like your transparency has already broken down walls....I'm excited to hear how it all unfolds in the future!

Hannah said...

YEA! So so wonderful. I'm thrilled for you. And I sympathize with how hard it is to enter a group when you know no one ... but I bet your honesty really disarmed them. I know I would have looked you up after the meeting!

xtina said...

I'm proud of you sissy!! A sister who was shepherding me in the training told me an hour after meeting her for the first time, that she wasn't going to drag things out of me or poke and prod around for how I'm doing and what I'm dealing with, but that the more honest and open I was with her the more she could offer her help and prayer. It has been one of the most releasing things for me. Why is it that opening up to the seeming scrutiny of others is so terrifying? I don't know but I'm proud of you. >>>>squeeze<<<<