How long do you try to form a friendship with someone before just writing them off completely? Is when you quit determined by how the other person rebuffs you, the vehemence with which they rebuff you or your desire to know them better? What if the other person is someone you will encounter every now and then do to circumstances beyond your control?
These aren't hypothetical questions. There's this woman. I've tried - multiple times - to strike up conversations around subject of common interest. The first time I met her, I found out she homeschools. It was right around the time we had decided firmly that we would homeschool A next year. So I was excited to hear meet someone who homeschools a daughter A's age. I remember saying, "Oh! Really?! We're going to homeschool A next year. We're excited about it." I don't recall whether she didn't respond at all or whether the response was simply lukewarm. I made a few other halting attempts that day and finally abated into silence.
I tried again the next time or two I ran into this mom, but ended up feeling worse about myself after. I asked whether her daughter might be interested in dance classes during the school day along with A. I asked for advice on science curriculum. I essentially got no response other than polite acknowledgment that I had spoken to her. I'm not sure whether she just thinks I am too stupid to homeschool my daughter and therefore unworthy of her advice or whether she just doesn't like me.
Look! I have loads of library books - I can homeschool! Some of them are even classics...
After being left alone with her in a room yesterday for nearly an hour, she started a conversation with me. It didn't go much better. She asked me about my planning for homeschooling and listened as I shared a few of my concerns. She listened, but didn't offer any advice she might have after six years of homeschooling. Instead, she told me about her plans for this year: they started school this week so that they can end before Easter, they are going to do four day weeks, etc.
At one point, she informed me that her daughter had taught herself to read at age three, which was why she was a grade level ahead of my daughter the same age. As my husband pointed out, there were several possible responses to this offhanded arrogance: "Yes, so did A." (which is true, by the way, but I don't go throwing that around to near strangers) "Really? Wow! That's great." Or a small smile and nod of acknowledgment. I chose the latter, but I left feeling bad about myself. Should I have been homeschooling A from the beginning so that she wasn't "behind"? (Even though she is the same age as her peers.) Should I push her more? Or should I just relax and let her be a kid, like my heart tells me?
Thankfully, some of my friends homeschool their children and I've met some other homeschool moms from my neighborhood in recent weeks. Otherwise, I would be even more terrified to embark on this journey than I already am. But instead of deciding this woman typifies moms who homeschool, I've decided to just stop trying with her. I can't completely avoid her, but I think I can try to protect myself as much as possible around her. Because it's amazing how bad she can make me feel about myself.
So instead of attempting to forge some small connection, if not friendship, I'll just try to keep to myself, know myself, trust myself. Easier said than done, right?
Sometimes I write - and post - before thinking. Sort of surprising for someone like me, isn't it? But I wrote this post and then headed out shortly thereafter. While in the van, I started thinking about my words here on this post. And, even more importantly, my attitude while writing them. There are quite a few things missing here: humility, compassion, a lack of judgment. I don't want to be the person who wrote these words. I could remove this post altogether, but I think it's probably better to leave the original words here and offer an apology.
An apology for being insecure. Why should it bother me that this woman doesn't want to be my friend? We don't all have to be friends.
An apology for being unkind. Just because I felt bad doesn't mean I should vent on my blog. I have no idea whether she intended to make me feel bad or not - and I should certainly give her the benefit of the doubt.
An apology for being judgmental. Who am I to criticize someone for being proud of their child?
An apology for lacking humility and a loving attitude. Regardless of how this person intends to make me feel, I should be trying to find a way to accept her for who she is, be kind to her and eventually love her, as God would have me do.
I'm so sorry if this post offended you. My deepest apologies for my black heart.