Well, I know it's too early for New Year's resolutions, but I'm making one anyway: Develop a Thicker Skin.
Yesterday I had my first conversation ever about homeschooling with my dad, who I see maybe once or twice a year (Thanksgiving and/or Christmas) and the only contact we have outside of that is the occasional random comment on Facebook. I would characterize our relationship as amicable but with a strong dose of disinterest on his part, which I have just come to accept. Not at all surprisingly, he does not agree with our choice to homeschool our kids. What did take me by surprise though, was the condescending and downright mean way he treated me when we discussed it. We were at my Aunt's house, surrounded by my extended family - some of whom I barely know - and I felt very awkward and completely put on the spot. I was already frazzled by the multiple comments of a couple elderly relatives who were complaining about un-disciplined children and how their mothers would have tanned their hides if they behaved that way, etc. (Monkeyman and his cousin were playing and laughing and generally being 5-year olds, nothing outrageous, but I can understand how annoying the laughter of children can be when you are trying to celebrate a holiday...) So I was ready to get outta there and was beginning the process of leaving when my dad says to Shane, "So I keep seeing Jenny make posts on Facebook about homeschooling... you guys aren't really gonna do that, are you?" and when Shane replied that yes, we were already doing it, he looked at me and asked, incredulously, "WHY would you want to do that?" Trying to keep it light, and hoping to avoid having the whole conversation just then, I laughingly said, "Because I was public schooled!" To which he responded by launching into the standard "what about socialization/what about discipline/what about sports/they are gonna be screwed up/etc" conversation. If you're a homeschooler you know the drill. But it was the way he said these things that really hurt me. As if I am just completely stupid and have no idea what I'm doing. Every question was asked as if it were an accusation, not as an honest query by someone trying to understand a different idea or way of thinking. And all of this open criticism of my parenting, in front of all of these people - coming from someone whose effort in parenting me was practically nil. Also, my other (childless) aunt kept jumping into the conversation in agreement with him, in the same tone. I felt like I did "just okay" in defending myself - I think I made a few strong points - but I know I was visibly flustered. The final dig was when I gave up on the conversation, and I said, "Well, I have a blog where I write about all the stuff we do, if you're interested," and he just chuckled and said "No thanks!" In other words, "I don't give enough of a shit about you or my grandchildren to learn any more about what's going on in your lives." I responded, "Well, okay - just have an opinion but don't research or learn anything more about it then, that's fine," and that was the end of the conversation.
I was so hurt and angry I cried all the way home. Which just pissed me off more because I let them get to me. Which brings me back to my thicker skin resolution. I'm shaking it off today and getting over it. I know that people are going to be critical because we are making unconventional choices. I know that and I'm okay with it. It's just that you expect your own parents to have a little more respect for you, to give you the benefit of the doubt and try to see your perspective a little, and not treat you like a complete moron. That part just really caught me off guard.