We moms who send our children to public school sometimes don’t like homeschool moms, not because they smell like chickens, but because they make us look so very lazy and uncaring. Whenever I feel tired of children’s voices and children’s messes, when I feel like crying because my to-do list is too long, I like to imagine my pillow is a homeschooler mom’s angelic face and rough it up a little. “Darn those homeschoolers!” I wail. “They’ve robbed me of my right to complain!”
If you’re the type of person who gets carried away by fantasies, please don’t try this at home. It’s not a good idea to actually rough up homeschool moms. Yes, compared to a homeschool mom you are an indifferent sloth, but who’s comparing? And anyway, their intention is not to make you look pathetic—probably. At least it’s not their first intention—probably. So, you ask, what is their motive? Why are you always trying to stereotype! Homeschool moms are individual people with individual motivations that defy your desire to box them up in rude labels!
That being said, I have observed several common motivations for choosing to homeschool. For example, when I was a child, I saw that homeschool moms were trying to protect their children from the evil influence of cool kids like me, the kind who curl their hair on the first day of school and sometimes shop at the mall. When I was a junior high student, I discovered that other homeschool moms were trying to protect their children from hearing the F-bomb 200 times each day. When I was a high schooler, I attended an orchestra camp where homeschool kids were the majority and found out that many homeschool moms are protecting their children from the unnatural challenge of learning to converse with their peers. While in high school, I also learned that a few homeschoolers are high-class snobs who want to be in the Olympics. Upon further investigation, though, I found that most homeschool families do not have a deep craving for fame or prestige. Many, though, have an insatiable craving for raw milk and fresh eggs.
Another sort of homeschool mom is the kind who has too fragile a psyche to endure the daily trauma of getting a six-year-old to the bus stop by 7:40 am. And there are some homeschool moms—and I can sympathize with these ones—who are concerned that public schools are not preparing our children to be Nobel laureates. I even considered (just briefly, don’t tell anyone!) joining the ranks of these goatherding geeks in order to raise my own Nobel laureates.
That moment of motivation passed, though, and I returned to my slothful ways only to discover yet another reason to homeschool: school stench. When my daughter comes home from a long day at school, she wants to give me a hug. Because I want people to think I’m angelic, like a homeschool mom, I usually give her one. I don’t actually enjoy it, though, because she smells like cinderblock and cheap tile, like unwashed coats with stains all around the ends of the sleeves, like paper with grimy eraser smudges, like uncovered coughs and sneezes, like school lunch corn dogs and industrial dishwash detergent, like green vinyl bus seats, like steamy windows with an anonymous hair stuck in the condensation. And then I’m left with a ponderous question: which is worse, to smell like chickens or reek like a school?