Thursday, November 4, 2010


1. affected with, characterized by, or causing a depressing feeling of being alone; lonesome.
3. lone; solitary; without company; companionless.

Today I encountered the biggest obstacle so far to home schooling: A confessed that she misses her friends.  As we walked through our neighborhood I asked her about it.  The conversation started because I overheard her tell her sister, "Trust me.  You don't want to be home schooled.  Even I miss my friends."  This was a few days ago, but I waited for the right time to ask for more information.  Our walk today seemed like the right opportunity - low key, we had a few minutes to talk, etc.  Basically what she told me is that she misses her friends and the casual interaction she used to have with them.  She misses saying something funny and having a friend laugh at her.  She misses just hanging out together.

This is harder than just about any other obstacle to home schooling I could have envisioned because I am so uniquely ill equipped to deal with it.

My heart broke a little as I listened to A describe how she used to like saying something off the wall and making a friend laugh.  (Her most frequent companion - me - doesn't have the best sense of humor and certainly isn't as silly as your typical fifth grader.)  And the heartbreak didn't get any easier as we tried to brainstorm ways to make things better.  I'm short on ideas.  I tried to provide for this on the front end of our year:  A does Spanish lessons, tutorials and dance classes with other girls her age.  It's not enough.  While she enjoys her tutorial, she's not forming close friendships there.  I think seeing them only every Tuesday hasn't been enough for an introvert like A.  She dances three days per week, but clearly the bulk of that time is spent dancing or listening to the teacher, not playing.  So what am I to do?  We already have after school activities every single week day - Monday through Friday.  Where do I fit in play dates for her?

I know how she feels.  The final gift I received from the recent death of a friendship was a true understanding of the emotion of loneliness.  Because I now know what it used to be like to share a frustration, a challenge or a laugh with someone just by giving her a quick call.  Unlike A, I'm trying to hang on to this loneliness a bit and let it do its work on me.  If loneliness is supposed to remind us of the value of relationship, it should (perhaps?) ultimately motivate me to try again.  But I find as I try to envision that, there is still a piece missing.  I know the value to me of a friendship, but I'm still a little foggy on what I bring to the table.  I'm waiting for the lesson to migrate from my head to my heart.

So how does a mother as conflicted and ineffectual at friendship as I help my 10 year old determine a way to combat loneliness in a home school environment?  Is it possible to teach your children skills you don't possess yourself?  Is this a battle she's meant to fight alone or the result of a choice J and I made on her behalf?

I'll admit this is an example of when I struggle to stay in the moment.  I hear A describe her solitude and I envision years of being a loner because her parents mistakenly thought a year of schooling at home was a good thing.  We can't go back.  We can't enroll her in a suitable school at this stage in the game.  So how do I go forward and help her navigate this year day by day?  Because I don't want us to give up on our year together right now.  We're only nine weeks in.  There's too much ground left to cover, too many experiences left to share, too many surprises to uncover together.

A - All Alone


Chris and Tiana said...

Wow, I wish I had advice to give you. It's so hard to know what the best decision is for the school dilemma. I love how brave you and A both have been to take on home schooling this year. There's pros and cons to any schooling decision, but even with the losses A is feeling, I find it hard to imagine that the negatives will outweigh the benefits she's gaining from this year. And if it's any comfort, I think you bring way more than you realize to the table of friendship. I think so often about how much I miss seeing you regularly. I wouldn't miss you so much if you weren't such an exceptional friend!

momart said...

I don't know if Micah and A are the right mix, but I've been wanting to give micah more chances to just be a girl(turning 10 this month) and not always be a big sister, so if I can help with trading off my daughter or inviting you guys over I'd love too-it might meet two needs at one time. We don't struggle with the loneliness part as much because it's always been multiple siblings at home-but Micah is older than her sister in a lot of ways right now and there's a gap. And I do think the girls miss out some on developing those girl friendships(I didn't have those when I was 10 and then I only kept 1 good friend at a time in the years after that). I agree with Tiana though, I think there are more positives from this year than negatives and I think your point that it's 9 weeks in is relevant on the flipside-there is still a lot of transition going on for Anna-9 weeks verses the first 7?! I'm so glad we communicate via our blogs, you are my only audience you know. :)

The Mom said...

I am thankful for several things that I see from the perspective of a woman with a now empty nest. One, you heard your daughter. She opened her heart and shared it with you. This is no small thing, trust me. Two, I believe that you and J and A prayed through this decision to homeschool and the peace that God gave you then is still with you now, despite your inability to perceive its presence. Three)Yes, your daughter is lonely and possibly hurting,and I do not want to diminish her pain, but I believe the wisest advice I could give you is twofold: Pray with A and ask God for wisdom and then wait. I don't know how He will answer, I only know that He will. He may or may not provide a friend, but there have been seasons in my life when I was lonely and adrift. They were always followed by times when the presence of the Lord was very near and dear, but many, many times I had to wait...and waiting is so very very hard. But if you can teach A to pray and wait as you continue to share your heart with her and she with you, I believe that you will reap an unimaginable reward. There, I have written an epistle. Finally, you are not ill-equipped, you are fully equipped to be her mother by the One who knit her together in your womb. It is not your strength, but His that will carry you both through.

Gigi said...

I love these comments. The Mom has great wisdom! Wow! I remember in Honduras when Matthew was 12-14 (now he is 19!). And one very vivid memory stands out: I saw him all alone a few hundred yards from the playground where the other children were playing. He was with his beloved dog, Bravo. But it's as if a cloud hovered above him spelling out LONELY. I ached so much as a mother for that! I prayed! I do not know yet how the lonely season will work it's magic in his development. I know that he is an amazing young man. I do believe that God has worked the entire experience of Honduras into something amazing for him... wounds and all, loneliness and hurtful relationships. That is my strength and hope that I share with you.

On another note... I treasure your friendship and only long for more time with you.

WordGirl said...

Thank you all for these kind and encouraging comments. I am clinging to the hope that there will be good to come of this year together. A said to me yesterday, "I'm glad you're my mom." When I asked why, she replied, "Other moms might not be willing - or able - to home school me. I'm glad you are." So she must not detest it.

I think more than anything, this blog post was a result of needing to process my emotions on it a bit. And perhaps God knew that I needed just the encouragement each of you would provide. Many thanks.