In establishing The Dream as a concrete goal for ourselves I decided to take a leap of faith and confront my fears about living away from the Big City. So far, all my posts have been in support of that dream, but lest I leave you all with a false impression of my full confidence in the venture, let me be clear that I still face fear and doubt sometimes.
I’ve been corresponding with some fellow homelearning families living in the region to which we wish to relocate. One of them commented that, while there is a thriving homeschooling community there, some of the families who live in outlying areas participate sporadically in activities. One mama confessed that they don’t go often because it’s a long drive, they are trying to reduce their reliance on the car, and because her kids don’t really thrive well in large groups.
I can certainly relate to that last point – Daughter also has challenges with large groups of kids. She enjoys playing with friends, but does best in a playdate situation where one family with 2 or 3 kids comes to visit (or we go to their home). Still, we do participate in two regular homelearning activities with larger groups; there’s lots to do at these functions and Daughter tends to involve herself in crafting or other activities rather than play with a group of kids. However, these are the same kids she has been spending time with for years and she knows most of them by name. Just because she doesn’t always join in with their games doesn’t mean she doesn’t gain a sense of community just by being around them. It’s nice for her to see so many kids living her life when outside in the “real world” she’s an anomaly, and a misunderstood one at that. Then, of course, there’s the social benefits for me. I get to be with a group of women I admire and get along well with, and participate in some adult conversation.
I worry that, were we to move too far out from that town we’d end up not being able to participate in regular activities that take place in the town itself. And that leaves me feeling anxious about isolation. While it’s true that I enjoy spending time at home, I am still a social extrovert and I enjoy connecting with my mama friends on a regular basis. I know that my kids will find plenty of things to occupy themselves with if we are living on a small acreage, have animals and a garden, and can spend more time walking through forests and visiting other natural places. But I do fear that they would be bored and lonely were they not to have regular interactions with other kids.
And Daughter, at least, enjoys her classes at the Ecology Centre and Community Centre. She has a passion for science and, when she is a bit older, will likely enjoy belonging to groups such as The Young Naturalists Club, visiting places like The Planetarium, and attending courses devoted to young learners interested in her sort of subject. I worry that there won’t be enough of these opportunties for her should we be too far away from town (and the College there).
The problem is, I don’t really know what daily life is like there. Certainly I know several homeschooling families who live in very rural areas and they all seem to be thriving. Perhaps I’m just a victim of Big City Mentality. Perhaps my worries of isolation are the same unfounded fears people associate with homeschooling and socialization.
All of this is to say that yes, there are moments when I get this panicky feeling inside of me and a voice in my head says “Are you crazy?”. There are moments when I think that the only way to make this move a success would be to live close to the town and give up some of The Dream – perhaps we will only have 1 acre and I’ll be boarding a horse in someone else’s barn. But then I wonder why bother making this move if we can’t end up with what we really want. Why not settle for “not what we really want” and remain here where our family lives and where I’ve developed a wonderful community of mamas around me? But I feel I have to do this. I have to try. Because if I don’t I think The Dream will keep haunting me, and I’ll continually feel as though I’m missing out on something that could be wonderful, if only I could be brave enough to give it a try.