Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Experts and Friends

Home from Florida a couple of days now, and reflecting a little on my time away from home.  I do my best thinking either in the shower, or when traveling.  The unfettered access to my own brain without much outside interference doesn't occur often, and when it does I often have threads I follow that help me figure out who I am and where I am going.  I have had so much going on this past several months, so many long term concerns with no clear solutions, that I am not my usual self.  I need to regain a little equilibrium, and that might not be easy, and it will clearly take some time.

While away spending long hours talking with hundreds of homeschooling parents at the Florida homeschooling convention, I realized something...I actually know something about homeschooling now, and I am not fearful when I speak to others, worried that I will appear to be a fraud.  Five years in, and in many ways, I discovered I am a bit of an expert!  Surprised the heck out of me, but I was able to guide people towards curriculum choices in all sorts of subjects and grade levels, and three different parents came back specifically to tell me, "You were right!  That was exactly what I was hoping to find!".  When I read the book, "Outliers", which speaks to the fact that you achieve an expert level with 10,000 hours of engagement in any activity, I saw some real truth in that.  As I looked back over my life, I could see where I had spent a significant amount of time learning something and became a low level expert at it.  This weekend, I saw I had arrived at that place.  When I said something like to my family after arriving home as we were all sprawled on the floor and couch filling each other in on our weekends, they laughed.  I asked, "Why are you laughing at me?  Am I that wrong?  I am not saying it to be arrogant, only to recognize that I actually KNOW something now."  Kenny laughed so hard and said, "Mom, we are laughing because it took you this long to figure that out!  As much research as you have done to help us, you must be at 20,000 hours...not 10,000!  You've been an expert longer than you think."

I must admit, it feels good that the inner terror has eased, expert or not.  We still have a long way to go, so maybe I will eventually hit 20,000 hours for real.

God has blessed me in so many ways, but one way in particular has been encounters with extraordinary people.  For someone who spent her first 25 years or so pretty locked down in the friendship department, I seem to be making up for it in my middle years.  I look around me, and everywhere I turn there are  very special people who have stepped into my life and continued to be a force of love that blows me away.  These are good, good people, in numbers I never would have expected.  I met another in "real life" while I was in Florida, another adoptive mom who extended a hand of friendship via the internet over 8 years ago, and it took us this long to actually meet in person.

Have you ever met someone and had an instant "knowing"?  A connection that felt as if you were not meeting for the very first time?  Christina and I spent a very special evening together, a surprise visit for dinner at Epcot Center, where we talked and talked...and talked some more.  After watching our families come together and grow on Facebook and blog posts, it was a delight to talk more openly about our shared experiences.  It is a rare gift for me, as our experiences in parenting are so far outside the norm that it is seldom I have the chance to really share what is in my heart with someone I can trust and who has seen or felt the same thing.  I am far more isolated than I ever wished to be. Homeschooling has been so beneficial to us on so many levels, and I would never regret it.  But I have suffered in silence more than I care to admit.  I don't get to have the sorts of casual conversations that others are privileged to have over PTA meetings or at football games.  There are few parents who are dealing with the multiple special needs we have among our kids, who are battling pasts that haunt us still, and who try to repair so much that has been bent or broken.  We have to parent differently, and seldom to people recognize or understand that.  To simply be able to be the mom I am to the kids I have with someone who nods understandingly reminded me how seldom I get to do that.

As we sat there on a wall near the entrance to Epcot, the evening growing much longer than either of us anticipated, we quietly giggled like school girls at adults passing by in costume.  We spoke quietly as the cool evening breeze finally brushed against us, side by side, each realizing we had met someone we dearly wished lived closer, for our similarities were astounding...and comforting.  That happens seldom in this world, and when it remains somewhat out of reach, there is a momentary grief at the feelings of loss of something that can never really be.  Distance will cause us each to miss out on something we both felt strongly would be unique were we to live closer to one another.  That such encounters ever occur is a reflection of God's mercy and benevolence, for we all need to be reminded from time to time that we are not alone. Proximity may keep us separated, but in our very humanity, we are not alone.

Florida was a place of very warm, hospitable people everywhere I went.  I had expected the "cool" California attitude and was pleasantly surprised to find it quite the opposite.  Florida was a place of reassurance, of a warm embrace and a couple shared Diet Cokes.  Florida was a great place to visit, and a great place to think about what my life is right this moment. It is hard, it is a little scary, and it blessed with relationships that are healthy and whole.  I made a new friend, I realized I no longer need to feel like a rookie at my current chosen "career", and I shared a lot of myself in many directions.  I wish every day could be like that.

1 comment:

Anna said...

Glad you enjoyed your time here in Fl. Sounds like a good getaway to recharge the batteries for next school year!