Dear Homeschool Group:
Hey, it's me. I'm the one in the corner playing on my phone because I'm new here. I said "hi" when I came in, but you were all too busy in your group to notice. I waited for the introductions, but they never came. I had no idea what to do, where to sit, or how to act. Now, I just feel like an uncomfortable outsider who invaded a friend group -- the unpopular girl who tried to sit at the popular kids' lunch table in high school.
My kid is new here, too. See her? She's the one trying to play with your kids, but they're ignoring her because they've already formed their friend group, too. Now she's just running after them, trying to get someone to notice her . . . to tag her in the game . . . to simply say "hi." She's occasionally stealing a glance at me in a mix of uncomfortableness and embarrassment. She thinks I don't notice, or she's probably hoping I don't notice.
No one wants to be that kid.
My heart is breaking . . . not just for her, but for me, too. I needed some support today. It's been a rough homeschooling week, the kind that breaks your spirit and makes you question why you're spending time doing this at all. You know those weeks, we all have them. I needed a friend today . . . a tribe. I needed a new perspective and someone to tell me "It's OK!" or "We've all been there!" or "This too will pass!"
But, there was no one. Not at this group meet up, anyway.
I know it's no one's job to make me feel better. But, this is a meet up. The posting said it was open to the public and that you were seeking new members -- "excited to welcome new homeschoolers" I think is the phrasing you used. But now that I'm here, I'm wondering why? Why are you posting those public announcements if you just want to hang in your same clique, telling the same stories in an unwelcoming way?
I'm not new to homeschooling. Or, maybe I am. Either way, you don't know because you didn't care to know. I will leave here today and never come back. I will have to answer questions from my daughter about why the other kids wouldn't play with her. I'll unfollow the online group and never try to participate again because now I know the truth: you don't really want to grow a homeschool group. Instead, you want to just have a place to meet up with friends and hang in the comfort and safety of the familiar. And, that's OK, I totally get it. It takes energy to start a new relationship and it's much less exhausting to stay with what you already know. But, please try to remember that gaining the courage to try a new group is exhausting too, especially when you are shunned.
Life will go on. You won't miss me, but I will miss you. I wanted to get to know you. My kid wanted to get to know your kids. But, you were all too busy for someone new.
I hope for the next new mom you will at least take the time to say "hi." She will appreciate it so much. I just know it.
The Homeschool Mom New To The Group
Jacqueline Wilson is a homeschool mom, speaker, and author of #1 bestselling “It’s Homeschooling, Not Solitary Confinement.”
A version of this post originally appeared on HomeschoolSuperFreak.com.