On Monday night, I went to a used curriculum sale. Not only did I find some great stuff, but I got to scope out a local homeschool co-op for the first time. Well, not counting the "recess" day we went to the previous week at a huge indoor park (Amazone). We had a great time there and I did meet a few nice people, but I wasn't able to have a conversation with anyone for longer than about 60 seconds because I kept having to run off and chase Bug. At the sale, though, I was kid-free and able to meet and talk to several homeschooling moms and pick their brains. This is an area where I know I will constantly have to push myself out of my comfort zone, as I am not exactly a social butterfly. As an introvert, I am generally quite content in my own company and am not terribly outgoing. Although I am friendly, I am fairly shy and socially awkward - I guess that great public school socialization I received didn't quite "take". (Haha) But I feel like I need to get out there and get involved, for the kids' sake, and to have something to offer for critics' questions about socialization. I would be really happy to meet a few families of similar mindset, values, and interests to ours. The biggest hurdle for me is that most of the people I have come across so far are very religious, and we are not. Specifically, there seem to be many homeschoolers out there who are shunning school so they can teach their kids things like Intelligent Design and that the Earth is just 6,000 years old. Which I quite deeply disagree with. This co-op is actually at a large "megachurch" which already makes me a smidge uncomfortable. Not only am I struggling to keep others' differing beliefs from being a deal-breaker for me, in terms of forming potential friendships, but also to keep my views to myself and prevent my beliefs from being a deal-breaker for them as well. I think I can do this, but can they?
I grew up in a Christian family, went to church and all that... but as I got older I questioned the things I was taught more and more. Over time, as I have read and thought a lot about it, I have come to a point where I consider myself to be an Atheist. I am simply not sold on the idea of the existence of an all-powerful supernatural being. I think the human need to believe in such is primitive and unneccessary, and in my opinion, organized religion often functions as an instrument of control, using guilt, shame, and fear as their main tools. And I reject that. If there is any such thing as divinity, I think it exists within each individual, although it seems like most people are unable to recognize this in themselves. There seems to be a general perception of Atheists as angry, hateful, and without morals, which really bothers me. I am probably one of the happiest and most well-adjusted people you will ever meet. (I'm not saying I'm perfect or that I never have a cranky moment - I do have plenty of them! - but overall I'd say I'm on a pretty even keel.) On the rare occasion I have "come out" to someone as an Atheist, the reaction is always surprise. To quote my boss, "You?!? Really?!? But you're so... nice!" I have a strong sense of right and wrong, and I believe in being kind and treating others as I would like to be treated. I think the universe is a beautiful, mind-blowingly amazing place, and I am filled with a sense of awe when I contemplate it. And I just don't find that I need to have a God to feel that way.
Back to the homeschool co-op. It seems like a group of very nice people - I enjoyed the conversations I had and I felt welcome. I think it will be a great resource for us. Although I will continue to keep looking for more secular homeschool groups and events, I am going to try to keep an open mind and see what happens with this co-op too. After all, we do share this great common goal of nurturing and teaching our children, and raising them to be good, happy people.
Oh, and here are the goodies I came home with from the sale:
Many of the books were 50 cents or a dollar; the most expensive book I bought was $5. Not pictured is a cool number flipchart I got for 75 cents and a rotating multiplication/division tube/chart thing that was free. I got some books for the kids, some for me, and some "sample pieces" of curriculums I had been wanting to check out. Score!