Tuesday, June 24, 2008

You don't look like a homeschool mom

Oh really?

The first time someone said this to me was in 1997. I was fairly new to homeschooling and this statement made me a bit nervous. I knew no homeschoolers face-to-face; all were internet acquaintances. We certainly didn't look like the cover of "The Teaching Home," which was probably what they meant, but I was fairly certain that not all homeschool families consisted of long-haired moms of many, many children in matching clothes. (Link to TTH is in no way an endorsement!)

That was over ten years ago. I could probably have paid for today's manicure if I had a dollar for every time I've been told that I don't look like a homeschooler. I used to laugh uncomfortably. Then for a few years I said thank you. Now I usually tell people that I really do look like lots of them.

But the stereotype remains.

It's a big family by today's standards - "just like stair steps," as the old folks say. Freshly scrubbed boys with neatly trimmed hair and girls with braids, in clean but unfashionable clothes follow mom through the store as she fills her no-frills shopping list.

Are there homeschool families who look like this? Sure. Some of them are my friends. But you also have girls in shorts and Aeropostale t-shirts, and my boys in Mambo, Land's End, and BR. Sometimes my boys have very neat short hair, and sometimes it looks like this:
Most of the homeschool moms I know don't own a denim jumper and are more likely to be in jeans or capris than anything else.

Some of them have opted out of materialistic society and some of us are still way too cozy with it. Some homschooled because they were looking for a Christian worldview; some were trying to avoid it. Some, like us, just wanted to have our kid not hate learning. Some are poor, some are rich, far more of us fall somewhere in the middle. Some homeschool moms even work outside the home. (Some of us are supposed to be working from home and are blogging instead.)

Some of our kids are super-smart and lazy as all get-out. Some are smart and disciplined. Some are average. Some are dumber then dirt. Seriously. Some of our children are well-behaved and some are flat-out rotten and have caused many gray hairs and sleepless nights.

So if you see that woman described in the article, chances are she's a homeschool mom, but I'll be over at Target in my capris and BR blouse with my mani and my Brighton sandals and NO kids tagging along, 'cause they're at home playing Halo, and I'm a homeschool mom, too. (Although my Brighton sandals are OLD, and if I wasn't a homeschool mom they'd be NEW.)

Addendum: Yes, I dress up and put on make up to go to Target. It's my entertainment.


elephantschild said...

They're playing Halo? You APOSTATE!!

::falls of chair, laughing::

Meg_L said...

Good post and a good response to that article.

I'm over here in my t-shirt,shorts and flip-flops listening to Boy and his friend play Halo. (Though for the record, the friend's mom wears denim jumpers, no make-up, and has a long braid. - LOL - her son still plays Halo, Magic, and D&D.)

Marie N. said...

One look at your title and I was hooked!

Uh-oh, I have two denim jumpers!!!

Phew! Today I'm wearing capris.

The Rebellious Pastor's Wife said...

I have one denim jumper, but I hate it. I only got it because my husband has a thing for the "Baptist missionary wife look."

I actually have a lot of respect for your sense of balance and your love of enjoyment of life. You're fun.

Wanda said...

I don't have really long hair, but my kids and I do sort of look like a mother duck with ducklings falling behind WHEN we go to the store together, which isn't often for all of them to go with me. Guilty as can be on having a large family...seven kids :) And gosh, I do wish they were always clean...but I'm not even always clean...My boys need hair cuts but not because they are going for a certain look--its because I am the one who cuts their hair and I usually avoid doing it until I absolutely have to.

I do not own a denim jumper, but wish I did. I'm usually in t-shirts and denim shorts and have various watercolor paint on my hands and dirt from my garden on my knees.

Interesting thoughts :)

mamap said...

Thanks Jane. Since I just got my navel pierced I guess I don't look like homeschool mom either. I'm sitting in my office in my capris and sandals. I no longer wear my jumper, it's a hold out from my nursing mom days. You know how those women are!

Becki B. said...

Love, Love, LOVE your post.

I was told in 1994 (the year we began homeschooling) that I didn't look like a homeschooler. I didn't know whether to be relieved or insulted. Honestly...I think I was a little of both.

I also love the sandals! ;^)

Beth said...

Ah! Sitting here in black yoga pants and a tank. Gasp! I think I might have a bra-strap showing!!! (Does that make me a shameless hussy? Or a comfy homeschool Mom?)

Working on the large family with #4 on the way.

My husband and I made the choice to be poor in wordly things so as not to be poor in the things that really matter.

Loved the post and the article link. Inspired my own mini-rant on my blog.

Me said...

I dress like that. For HALLOWEEN whahahaha.

Wait, homeschoolers aren't supposed to trick or treat...darn.

AmberD said...

Well, I'm a homeschooler who doesn't "look" like one! I like to go through the store "hot topics", wishing I could wear the clothes (need to lose some more weight first).
I also play roleplaying games, and non-standard board/card games! I fully expect my children to do the same, if they want.

Great blog! Thanks for sharing.

Tena said...

This is too funny. Just the other day I told my husband how I'd like to start wearing dresses, like maybe always. His first reaction ... like we aren't odd enough as it is. Thanks for the laugh.

Anonymous said...

lmao, I love your response! (as I sit at the computer desk, listening to my kids watching old felix the cat cartoons and making cherry limeades, me in a pair of boat shorts & a black tshirt) I get told all the time that since I'm following the cherokee path & homeschooling that I must be wanting to raise my kids to eat birds alive (that was from a lady in the grocery store couple years ago cause I'd told one of the kids that I don't like eating chicken when its still on the bone) LOL

Jane said...

The variety of all of you commenting here really makes my point. :)

RPW--I'm gonna be thinking of you as BMW for a while. ;)

SuperMom said...

I think my favorite part of the linked article is this:

"There's no begging for gimcracks, no fretting, and no threats from mom. The older watch the younger, freeing mom to go peacefully about her task".

Yeah. That's us. Totally. *snort*

Anonymous said...

I don't think we look like the idea of the typical homeschool family. But I don't think we look like the typical public school family either. We look like hippies, eat vegetarian, wear flip-flops, play on-line games, read voraciously, stay up late, take walks all the time, etc. Being homeschoolers for us is also about not conforming to the norm. It allows us to fashion ourselves and our lives to our interests. We're a bit eccentric, but that's good! What interesting and intelligent person aspires to be like everyone else?


Jane said...

SLM--That is one of my favorite things about homeschooling: We can be ourselves. We don't have to fit in any little boxes. So I can be a mostly crunchy confessional Lutheran suburbanite book-nut foodie with Libertarian leanings and manicured nails. And it's okay. I don't aim to be like other folks or to be different. I'm myself. (Talk about undoing years of schooling!!)

Crimson Wife said...

We've heard a number of times the backhanded compliment: "You homeschool? But you're so *NORMAL*!" Gee, thanks.

Today I'm actually in a frumpy-looking long, loose cotton dress with my long hair in a ponytail and no makeup. But that's mostly because I'm 13 wks pregnant and have no energy to get all dolled up at the moment. Plus even if I wanted to, I'm at that awkward stage where my cute regular clothes are too small and my (relatively) cute maternity clothes are still too big.

Anonymous said...

I've never posted but I'm a homeschooling mom who was a fashion designer. Fashion has always been one of my passions since childhood, like homeschooling my family is now.

Non-homeschoolers comment how they love my style and if they discover I homeschool, I get the inevitable "But you don't look like...." Most of my friends aren't into fashion, but so what? One thing I love about hsing is we can all express our true selves!

Adi said...
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Anonymous said...

Very interesting. I din't know that one was suppose to be able to spot a homeschool mom out of the crowd. I do not fit the mold either. My older children are grown, married (2 of them) and have children of their own. My husband and I are on our second family - have a 2 1/2 year old who we plan on homeschooling. Husband has a bad heart, we foster and we are Christians. Guess we never did fit any particular mold. I believe we are each just trying to do what we beleive to be the best for our families -- regardless how we look. Now if I can just figure out how to set up my home for schooling before I go gray ....

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