I have been amazed and edified by the range of stories that I'm hearing from people who have read Alice Gunther's Haystack Full of Needles. We have found out that socialization for the moms is very important!!! People are sharing how their groups work and what true charity can do in a community of homeschoolers. We are also hearing how people have been inspired by the book to try and heal their groups that fell apart either because of lack of charity or lack of interest. I'm sure we'll hear more!!! Please feel free to respond in the comment section of this email if you want to share a story about your homeschool friendships.
I want to share one of mine. When I first moved to our present house, I was expecting number 5 and number 1 had just turned 7. I was a bit apprehensive about the move: one more time we moved to a totally new area where I knew no one, one more time I left behind a kindred spirit, and one more time I would have to try and put aside my introvert tendancies and reach out to other people.
Our new parish had many homeschoolers but a recent falling out had splintered the group and bad feelings abounded. I was content to be pregnant and hunker down with the family and not try to get in the middle of the divisiveness. When I took my children to CCD, there was a group of moms who hung out during CCD time, and I got to know a few of them. I was astounded when one of them, who had from the beginning been encouraging me to call and come over to her house for a visit, brought me a dinner when I had the baby. She didn't really even know me!! It was so sweet, and she was so generous and laid back about it. It still took me two months to get the courage to call her and say, "Hey, I'd like to take you up on your offer to bring the kids over and visit." Her enthusiastic response was a balm to me.
Since that time there have been many chances for mutual generosity, (my number 5 is now 8 years old and she now has 10 children) but it was that simple reaching out by her that turned the tide for me and helped me to come out of myself a bit. I've been thinking a lot about that with regard to Haystack Full of Needles. It doesn't take much to make someone feel like an outsider, and not much to make her feel welcome as well. I am filled with gratitude for this friend of mine . . . and I thought I better tell her:
Happy Birthday, Kathleen, and thanks for being a great friend over the years, opening your home and heart to whomever you meet!