Wednesday, January 12, 2011

a letter to a woman I have never met

To the woman I only know as "Nelson's Wife,"

You may not remember this, but nearly five years ago, you put together a manila folder of homeschooling information for me. Though we had never met, when you heard that there was a measure of homeschooling interest in our household, and you gathered materials for us. Your husband Nelson took it to the office, to give to my husband Jeff, to give to me.

I am ashamed to tell you that I didn't look at it. You see, I wasn't the one interested in homeschooling. The very idea made me want to run screaming from the room. My husband was the one with a heart for it, and for that reason I accepted the file folder...but didn't open it. To tell you the truth, I rather resented it. I didn't want to be nudged toward something I had absolutely no intention of doing. I had my own plans for my kids' education, and frankly, I hoped my husband would forget about this whole homeschool thing. Maybe if I just didn't mention it, the idea would fade away.

A few weeks ago (ironically, almost two years after I eventually began homeschooling), I came across the folder again. To that day, I still had never looked at it, never even cracked it open. But this time, I did.

And I must tell you, I was blown away. It was so thorough! You had stapled and highlighted. You had printed age-appropriate Scholastic readers full of ideas of what to do with my two young students. There were phone numbers, websites, support groups. A sheet of questions and answers about homeschooling, and an entire printed copy of an information guide from the Oregon Home Education Network. You'd included the rules for homeschooling here in Oregon. Pretty much everything I could've needed, and many things I never would have dreamed of asking for.

And I was touched - incredibly touched. Thank you, so much, for what you did for me...ungrateful, hard-hearted little me. Thank you for taking the time to print, sort, gather, staple, and highlight. Thank you for considering the ages of my children. Thank you for caring enough to put this together, just because you heard there was the tiniest spark of interest.

I'm sorry I didn't appreciate, or acknowledge, what you did. I feel ashamed that I never even looked at that wealth of information. I'm sorry to admit that my heart was so closed to the idea of educating my children at home.

But now, nearly five years later, you've inspired me. I hope I can find ways to encourage those peeking into the homeschool movement. I hope that when the time comes, I will be willing to gather information, or just to be honest about where we are and where we've been.

I know that you and Nelson have moved away now. I suppose I will never have a chance to meet you and tell you what your sacrifice and thoughtfulness means to me. But maybe, one of these days I'll pass on a manila folder of my own. Here's hoping I can light the path for another mother's tentative steps. Thank you...thank you for showing me the way.

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