Friday, February 11, 2011

It's been a little hectic around here.  Lots of people in my life are in need of help and attention right now. My own family here at home.  A friend from church who needs babysitting help.  Emails and phone calls with various people on various topics.  Some of it is fun and some of it is obligation.  Talking to a friend about her upcoming trip to Hawaii is in the fun column, not the obligation column.  But there are others, not so fun.

Almost two years ago I sat here and complained about the lack of available women to help their church family by providing meals to others in need.  That problem hasn't gone away.  There is a lot of work to do and people don't have much time to do it.  So those of us who are available try to do as much as we can.

Sometimes it's hard.  Sometimes when a need comes up and I think about trying to squeeze it into my day, I say inside my head, in a very small voice, "but I have a job too."  Most people don't see homeschooling as a job.  It's a lifestyle choice (and an odd one at that) and shouldn't affect my ability to be out of the house for hours at a time.

And sometimes it doesn't.  My kids are old enough to stay at home alone; they can do some of their work on their own.  I can leave them to their math books and Latin translations and other assignments.  Mostly those things can get done when I'm not home. But that's now how we like to spend most of our homeschooling day.  We want to be together, reading and talking; sometimes they need my help.  Sometimes they need my nagging.

One of the dangers of being among the few that can help is the tendency to look at others who aren't helping with bitterness and resentment.  We can decide that the stay-home mom with a preschooler and toddler ought to be able to help out some too.  What does she do all day?  We can look at another homeschooler and wonder why her kids can't be more independent.  It doesn't matter that we don't know much about her, such as what kind of homeschooling program or philosophy she has, or the ability of her children to stay home alone, or how much help they need with their work. We look at these people and think:  I can do this; why can't she?  My life is busy too.  Busier, even. What's wrong with her?

Because there must be something wrong with her if she's not doing what I do.

It's easy to look at other people and decide that they are lacking.  Harder to look at ourselves and see the pride that makes us judge others by our standards.

Whose standards are we supposed to live by, anyway?

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