Wednesday, February 27, 2013

We have been part of a homeschool co-op for several years now. Anyone who still reads my blog might remember that I've mentioned the co-op before. :-) We think of it as our homeschool family. My kids love going, and I have learned more from the other moms than my children have learned in their classes (and they've had some really good classes). We love it there. It is "home" to us.

Today, in my email messages, I found an email from one of our directors.
Dear Families, 
Thank you for a great 5 years. I have enjoyed working with you and getting to know you and your children. We have had some great classes and opportunities. At this time, I have decided I am no longer willing to be a director for this program after the current term ends. I would like to find someone to help Patty, at least to finish out spring term. At this point, I don't know if we would be willing to attend spring term as regular participants or not or if I am just completely done with it. But I do know that I am no longer enjoying all of the behind the scenes work that goes into making co-op successful. Co-op is no longer an enjoyable day that I come home from refreshed and ready to tackle the rest of my homeschool week. It has become draining and exhausting, which tells me it is time to pass the reigns to someone else. I know we have many wonderful talented women in this group and hopefully one or more of you are willing to step up and help. I will bring my notes for spring classes on Thursday to pass on to someone to use or not use as you see fit. In addition the figuring out classes and schedules and classrooms, you will need to update the website each term, orient new families, stay to help clean up, and handle any "issues" each week. It can be and has been an enjoyable and rewarding way to serve the homeschool community and meet new people.

If you have questions about what the role entails, feel free to contact me. If you want to volunteer, you can contact me or email Patty directly. 

Thank you for all you have taught me and my kids. Hopefully the friendships we have made can continue.
I understand where she's coming from. This is, and has been, such an integral part of our year (and our social life), but it HAS become exhausting and draining. It seems as if there is more work than joy a lot of weeks. This term I'm in a classroom for three out of four hours and don't see much of the other moms at all. BECAUSE I'm in a classroom for most of the day (and setting up a classroom during most of the lunch hour), I don't know how the rest of the moms feel or what they're dealing with this term.  Is everyone feeling overwhelmed with work and lacking in fellowship?

It feels like there. are. so. MANY. complaints. I feel like I'm always whining about something. Nothing "feels" the same anymore. We had to find a new facility- and it feels different. We have a few more kids- and that feels different. We've had a change of leadership- and that feels different. We've added more electives- and that feels different. We're cold all the time- and, well, that is familiar. We were cold at the other church too.

Are we really complaining more than we ever have before? Are there more problems than we've dealt with any other term? As a whole, are we unhappier than we have been other years?

Let me go out on limb here and guess that the answer is no. Personally, I am more tired and overwhelmed with life in general. Every person in our group has a life outside of co-op. It's easy to forget that, especially when we are having a hard time keeping our own heads above water and meeting the needs of our families. Some of our members have lost family members this year. Others have had very full work schedules that they juggle on top of caring for families and homeschooling. Some of us struggle with health issues.

In past years I have felt that co-op is something that I do for me, as well as for my family. We started coming because I felt it was good for the kids... but we stayed because I fell in love with the moms. :-) We have some awesome and amazing moms. When my husband died, it was our co-op family who supported us and provided community, allowing us to be pretty darned strange while we were healing. Visiting and laughing with the other moms saved my sanity on more than one occasion.

This term I don't have that. It makes me wonder how many other moms are missing the same thing. It doesn't feel like we are one big family. Because of my schedule it seems like most of my interactions with a lot of the moms involve expressing complaints, or accepting suggestions for improving my teaching skills. It's really easy to get prickly about those complaints/suggestions because... that's all I'm hearing. It's easy to think that everyone is unhappy... because unhappiness is what I'm hearing. In reality, I don't think that there are proportionately more complaints this year. I THINK that what is really missing is the positive interactions that refill my cup. We aren't all giggling the corner somewhere at some point during the day. I don't know what's going on with the other moms, even the ones I'm close to, unless one of us calls on the phone... and how many of us spend much time talking on the phone? I realize that we are supposed to be doing this for our kids... and we are... but, the moms need to come away from the day with something other than a tension headache and a list of things that they need to do better next week.

Maybe I am isolated in feeling this way. I over committed my time and that's my own fault. But... what if I'm not the only one FEELING isolated? What if we're all a little on edge because we aren't connecting like we used to? What if everyone feels a little judged because the only interaction they get with the majority of our members is to discuss what is wrong, instead of what is right?

If I feel this way... how do our directors feel? You know when you're young... that seems like a prestigious job. It seems like there should be some glamour, or glory, or at least power to be had by filling that position. Yeah, there isn't. It's hard work. It requires someone who is capable of balancing all of the strong personalities within our group. It's not a good thing when one of our most competent and diplomatic moms ends her resignation letter by saying that she hopes the friendships she and her family have made can continue.

As individuals we are doing something wrong and we need to do better. The difficult question is: WHAT can we do differently?

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Jake camping in the living room

Jake camping in the living room