Disheartened

I’ll be honest. Today was a very discouraging day, on many different levels. It started off with the discovery that our fridge in the kitchen had died at some point during the weekend. I went to get something out of the freezer, and it wasn’t frozen. Or even cold.

Jasper helped me empty out the freezer. Some things could be transferred to the big freezer in the garage. Lots of things got thrown out. And there was some chicken that was still cold enough that I could cook it. We do have a “backup” fridge in the laundry room, but it does not keep stuff very cold and it was almost full, so we transferred what we could and threw a lot more food away.

I couldn’t give my full attention to the fridge disaster because I had two classes to prepare for and some grading to do. Meanwhile, my husband was organizing a “loaner” from the university so we can take a few days to figure out what to do.

Here’s the thing: we’ve been married for almost 34 years and we have never bought a refrigerator. Weird, huh? The first few places we lived came with fridges, so we didn’t have to worry about it. Even our house in Africa had a fridge provided. It wasn’t till we returned to Texas 21 years ago that we had to provide ourselves with a fridge when the one in our rental house died. Some friends heard of our dilemma and offered us a fridge they didn’t need anymore. Later, when our family had expanded to the point that we really needed a second fridge (unless I wanted to go shopping every day), some other friends offered us one–again for free.

So for many years now, we have had two refrigerators, both of which were gifts. We worked them hard and the really big surprise is that they both lasted this long, because they were both elderly when we received them. Now it seems the time has finally come for us to buy a fridge. I have dreaded this day because even very basic refrigerators seem so ridiculously expensive to me. We will have to research and get the best deal we can for a very basic no-frills model. Not that we have ever had any “frills!”

I had about half an hour after my class ended before going up to the north side of town to meet Spencer for a graduation meeting. We had a hard time finding the meeting. We knew what church it was at–we just couldn’t find any evidence of a meeting! The meeting was very discouraging to me for personal reasons, and instead of coming home afterwards I stayed for the regular homeschool group meeting, which I have not attended in years. For a long time I didn’t have transportation and then I had something I liked doing more on Monday nights.

I have to admit I was rather shocked and dismayed when I realized how small the meetings have become. When I first started going, some 16 years ago, the meetings averaged 30-35 moms and multiple breastfeeding babies. I desperately needed to connect with other homeschooling moms and this group helped me do that. It was a close-knit group and we all knew each other. The meetings were my lifeline. We went on field trips together, taught and took classes together, and had science fairs and art shows.

The group grew over time, and soon there were 50 families–then 80–then 100. We had a big co-op class program. Although the meetings were a lot bigger, there were still plenty of my friends attending and I looked forward to them every month. I was often asked to give a devotion at the meeting and sometimes to speak on a topic that I am knowledgeable about.

So tonight, I was expecting at least 50 moms and possibly more, because I know the group is still pretty big. The meeting started with 16 people and eventually grew to 24. This confirmed what I have suspected for some time: the meetings are no longer the core of the group. The real center of the group is the co-op class program, and if you’re not involved with that you are going to feel like an outsider. All the relationships center around that big program, which explains why every single new homeschooling mom I have sent to the meetings in recent years has come back to tell me that they felt rejected and cold-shouldered to the point that they were not willing to go back.

The co-op classes are not workable for us at this point, especially due to Jasper’s dyslexia, and I have to admit that I am dismayed at the way they now dominate the group. It used to be that the classes were just one of many options and there was no stigma attached to anyone’s choice to take or not to take classes. I signed up for the group this year for two reasons: so that Spencer could participate in graduation, and so that the kids could take part in the twice-monthly teen gatherings. I knew almost no one at the meeting tonight, small as it was. I’m not sorry I went, because there was some useful information, but I left with a heavy heart. I used to belong to that group. The moms in that group were “my people.” That has not been true for some time, but it’s still hard to have it confirmed by actual experience.

I came home from the meeting to find a very grouchy husband struggling to get the dead fridge out of the house and get the loaner fridge into the house. It was not an easy task, but of course he eventually succeeded and now we have an operational fridge/freezer in the kitchen while we weigh our options. We have a lot of containers to clean too!

On a brighter note, the sun came out today for the first time in over a week and we had to turn on fans inside the house. There was no transition between “cold” and “warm.” It sure was nice to see some sunshine though.

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