In my life before the move, which I now refer to as "homeschooling in a vacuum", I was the only one I knew that was homeschooling the way I homeschool. I felt lonely about being the odd one on many occasions. That was the BIG and only downside to that situation. Now I am seeing that there are some benefits to that situation too. I knew our journey was going to be different from everyone we knew, so there was no reason to compare our lives to others. Because I was not living among other Waldorf homeschoolers or other Unschoolers, I was not trying to follow any particular philosophy perfectly. I was just doing what felt right for my family.
Now that we have landed in a city just full of homeschoolers, a very diverse group (by accident, if you can believe it), I get some first-hand experience with other homeschooling families. When I first got here, I envisioned that this would be HEAVENLY. I am always happier when I keep my expectations much more reasonable than that. Heavenly was reaching a bit high. I have been experiencing overwhelm instead so I have been thinking a lot about that. WHAT is overwhelming about this?
I think comparison is a big piece of it. A new friend and I were sitting in my living room and she was asking me some questions about how I work with my kids and ultimately shared some worry that what she was doing wasn't as good as what I was doing. And I had to laugh AT MYSELF because I knew that was just what I have been doing. When I look around I only see what other people are doing that I am NOT. I never see that I am doing so many cool things that all those other people are not doing because they are busy doing whatever cool things they are doing.
It is beautiful that we are all doing different cool things, hopefully the exact cool things that our very own precious children need. None of us can be doing ALL the cool things. Moving forward, I want to be inspired by the cool things I see other parents doing and add those ideas to my bag of tricks in case I should ever need those ideas in the future without feeling pressure to do all the cool things all the time. Again, I am always happier when I keep reasonable expectations.
In case you are someone who also has an occasional freak-out and wonders whether you should change everything about the way you homeschool, read Sheila's article about homeschool doubts and perhaps bookmark it for future freak-outs.