How I Saved My Family in a Walmart Isle

It was either a lucky-accident or the plot-twist of a creative God that inspired me take the meandering path out of My Feminist Domain into the feminine one. Three years ago, I felt wildly superior to people like the person I've become. Maybe it's poetic justice that I find myself becoming everything that I've judged over my lifetime--a conservative, a stay-at-home mom and now [she bites lip] a homeschooler. My story is longer than this blog post, so I'll skip to the part where I stopped calling myself a "feminist." I was living in Portland Oregon with my husband and two kids. I was formally trained in feminism with a B.A. in "Women's Studies.” This a collection of classes teaching people that women are powerless victims and that their only hope is to seek and secure power for themselves. By the end of this "degree," these powerless victims are thrust into the world with suffocating debt, a contagious kind of resentment and no real path to power. [Two decades later...] It was 2017 and I was being pushed and shoved out of my tribe--"the left"--because I had begun asking the wrong questions. "Why is the wage-gab calculated in the weird way that it is? What if there's no real gap?" "What if western nations aren't oppressive patriarchies after all, especially compared to other nations across the globe and throughout time?" These questions (and others like them) weren't allowed, which naturally prompted even more questions: "Why do my friends react so defensively when I ask good-faith questions that are worth answering?" Before I knew it I was standing on the outside of my echo-chamber looking in, wondering how I'd gotten inside in the first place. From the outside, it seemed like a small, miserable place to be. The longer I considered this, the more I realized that it was. Then, I began asking new questions: "Why had I sacrificed the most precious years of my children's lives just to appease the feminist-god--the establishment?" "Women should work outside of the home," they told me. In my question-asking mood, I wondered: "Why 'should' we? And, who decides?" Before I knew it I went from a full-time worker to a part-time mom. Reducing my working hours allowed me to assuage some of the mama-guilt I'd acquired while paying other women to rock my babies to sleep at nap-time. As a part-time worker, I could drive up to my house just as my (then) grade-schoolers stepped off the school bus each day. I felt better about myself not sending them to daycare after a long day at school. I was giving my kids a family-experience... part of the time. I could make dinner and even shove some unfolded laundry into their dressers. It looked and smelled like a home. Even better, I could almost appease the feminist demand that I "make something of myself" and "contribute economically." Well, life might have gone on this way indefinitely if it weren't for Covid-19 (said everyone everywhere, circa 2020). In brief, when Covid-19 struck, my work sent me home on leave... indefinitely. After a solid month of spending every second of every day with my emerging middle-schoolers, I was surprised by two things: 1) they loved it and 2) so did I. [GASP!] But this truth would not have been enough to convince me that I should homeschool them. Though, in a way, like every other parent across the quarantined-globe, I found myself to be a sudden-homeschooler, hovering over my kids, asking them if they'd done that weird thing their teacher asked them to do. ("Write a letter to your inner monster?" What if you're not on speaking terms with that creature?) I had a list of reasons why homeschooling was a terrible idea. At the top of my list was: I want to have a good relationship with my son. He's particularly social. He needs other adults bossing him around during the day. I take the night shift. Well, one day in the lovely city of Portland, there had been street-warfare downtown for 90 days straight. I was already exhausted by the far-left, having just left "the left" myself, and I knew what their goal was--a revolution. My husband is a student of communist revolutions and we felt as though we were watching one begin just down the street. The politicians in charge were not taking it seriously at all. In fact, they were participating in it! So, (carving out a huge chunk of our story) we fled Portland. We wanted to situate our family in a place least likely to tolerate adult tantrums. We ended up in the south. It was August and I found myself standing in the pencil isle of Walmart asking myself what supplies I should buy them, more importantly, what school I should send them to. I knew that because of Covid, public schools were happening at home--it was basically home-schooling with a public-school indoctrination, I mean curriculum. I had just lived through this scenario last spring and I wasn't looking forward to chasing down other people's assignments and making sure my kids had done them. Also, we planned to move from one southern state to another over the period of a couple months (it's a long story), so I knew that if I signed them up for one public school, I'd just have to transfer them to a new one a couple months later. I had heard about homeschool curriculum that offered kids a "classical education." That sounded amazing. I had been wishing for over a year that I could give this to them. The leftist-indoctrination they were receiving in public school was really starting to grate on me. But I knew nothing about homeschool curriculums or how to teach them, so that was out of the question. That's when God sent a mover-n-shaker kind of women to the pencil isle of Walmart to strike up a conversation with me. She happened to be starting a homeschool co-op inside her home, thanks to Covid shutting down their Catholic homeschool co-op. The kids would meet in person twice a week and they'd use paper, not screens. Oh! Also, the curriculum would be classical. The textbooks had already been decided on. Could my kids attend? Absolutely! In fact, she'd be happy to run around town to 4 different houses collecting all the textbooks we'd need from other homeschooling moms who'd finished using it. My jaw was on the floor at this point. I might have cried a little bit right there in Walmart. So, I'm three months new to homeschooling. It has been relatively painless, only minor bumps and bruises. But, the other day I did spend 5 hours walking my son through his math lesson (I'm not sure if that was his problem or mine). He was pretty emotional by the end of it, partly because of all the instability in our lives, partly because he's a hormonal middle-schooler, and partly because Algebra is tough. At the end of that lesson I put my head in my hands and asked myself if my worst fear was coming true. Was homeschooling ruining my relationship with my son? But that night, like every other night, he told me that he loved me, as though 5 hours of math had never happened. So, I think we're going to be alright. But it wouldn't hurt to give me a call next spring just to make sure. -- Gracie West -- "If you want to change the whole world, go home and love your family." -- Mother Theresa


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