Indulging in a little melancholy

As I drove around looking for a parking spot for my weekly hipster coffeeshop stop (while Violet is at play practice nearby) I wondered whether I would use some of my freetime to write about my current melancholy.

I walked into the coffeeshop, and what should be playing but Lou Reed singing “Pale Blue Eyes,” one of my ultimate melancholy songs. It wa a sign from the Velvet Underground, if not from God, that I should go right ahead.

Have you ever been in this situation? You have a couple of different groups of friends — let’s say you’re in high school or college — and the groups don’t really connect. In truth, the groups don’t like each other much, but you’ve always been a bit of a fence straddler, a little bit country, a little bit rock’n’roll. The hard part is when one group starts in some of that typical group behavior, cutting down something about the other group (they’re a bunch of squares, or a bunch of rich snobs, whatever), forgetting that you have an affiliation with that group (you’re president of National Honor Society, you’re not exactly poor, etc.). If you call that to their attention, they might say something like, “Oh, honey, of course we don’t mean you!”

So — this is how I feel as a liberal Catholic homeschooler. I feel a little weird at my secular homeschool group at times, like at a moms night out when after a few drinks people aren’t as careful to parse their words about “The Church” and “Christians” and the tone turns sarcastic and superior. (Obviously these are people I like and enjoy being with, or I wouldn’t even bother about it.) But I haven’t looked into Christian homeschool groups — I’m uncomfortable with the rhetoric. Online there have been some Catholic and Christian blogs that I have moved away from because of generalities about “liberals” and how they want to make the US one big socialist orgy and take everyone’s money away and give it to welfare queens driving Cadillacs.

In part, I feel driven away from this kind of talk because I just can’t deal with the fuzzy logic and the emotion masquerading as information. It’s not that I feel I have to agree or keep quiet; I can’t figure out how to participate on those terms.

But the other part is that sad “Where are my people?” feeling. I guess that’s why I have taken to blogging. It’s not that I have found a haven of liberal Catholic homeschoolers just like me (although I have found many many lovely Catholic homeschoolers whose politics and theological bent I really don’t know, which is fine), but I have a place to connect with others who seem to know what the straddling is all about.

I think I’d better turn to a Midsummer Night’s Dream now. Our Shakespeare’s birthday party is next week, and I need to hand out parts!

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11 Comments

Filed under Oh Mother

11 responses to “Indulging in a little melancholy

  1. Hey Shaun-
    I hear ya! I feel like I’m in a similar situation myself. As for you, there have got to be some liberal Catholic homeschooling cirlcles out there, right? Whether virtual or IRL.

    My dilemma is the SAHM crew in my small town, which I used to be part of and my working mom friends at my job, which is about 20 miles away. I really don’t have time for either b/c I’m split, but I know I have to make time!

    I enjoy reading your blog –
    Andrea

  2. Hypatia

    Hi Shaun,

    I don’t know if it’s much comfort, but *you* have been a welcome spark of community like this to me! I haven’t yet got kids of my own, but I’m planning to homeschool them when I do, and I had been despairing of EVER finding anyone who was liberal and Catholic and cared about gifted kids… and then I found you! I wish I had more to give back to you in this way, but I hope it helps to know that you’ve been a breath of fresh air to someone in a (partially) similar situation.

  3. I think that’s the place my blogging is coming from as well. I still haven’t really connected with the homeschooling community here, because I think they’re doing it for really different reasons than I am. I want to talk about kids and education and learning styles and math and writing and history, etc…. they want to talk about their gardens. I’ve also lost my school community, for the most part, as teachers have gone on to different jobs and kids have dispersed to different schools. It has been challenging, frustrating, and yes, sad. I hear ya.

  4. I can so relate to your situation–and thank goodness for blogging! Last fall, I was seriously considering converting to Catholicism. I felt such a warmth and connection with much of the faith, and with my local Catholic homeschooling friends. But when they were all getting together for the ProLife rally in DC and I passed, they pressed. When I told them that after years of working in foster care with unwanted children I could never be part of a group that pressured others’ personal decisions enmass, I could almost hear the “liberal” alarm going off. There are some major sticking points in the faith that would always be contrary to my liberal soul. Yet, amongst some of my liberal friends, I am an uptight worry wart. I take heart in the words of one much wiser….”There are many roads to enlightenment. Just because someone is not on the same road as you does not mean they are lost.” Dalai Lama

  5. Oh boy, do I know that you’re talking about. As a Jewish homeschooling libertarian… I don’t even think I have a group.

  6. Jen

    Shaun,

    I have been complaining about this EXACT same thing to my husband for the past few months. We are part of a wonderful secular homeschooling group, but I do sometimes feel that secular = anti-religious, and I stand out with my simple cross necklace.

    We have two very active Catholic homeschooling groups in town, but I am WAY TOO LIBERAL for either of them (and really, I am very much a moderate…). We have some great Christian homeschooling groups, but the few times I have tried to connect with them, I was turned off by the way that creationism permeated everything they did.

    So, where does that leave me? The secular group is the most open, but I keep my faith silent there. I have been blessed with a really great group of moms from our parish (we are involved in sports and scouts through the parish). They accept me for the homeschooling mom I am, and we share similar faith values. And, I get a lot of comfort from reading blogs like yours… so, thank you for that!

    (My son is also HG, and a few years younger than Violet. Your blog inspires me in so many ways!)

    Be well, and know that you are not alone in this melancholy.

  7. patience

    I’m sorry I didn’t see this earlier. I know a little of how you feel. I don’t have the experience of being caught between two groups, because I stay away from group socialisation as much as I can, being an introvert. But as you know I have really been struggling with that question of “where are my people?” lately. I thought I found them … and then discovered I would not be welcomed! Sometimes I think my people are just me, my kid, and God. At least I know God is always on my side! 😉

  8. Jo

    Oh wow! I have just discovered your blog and I know exactly what you are saying. I am always saying to my DH that I need to find ‘my people’.
    We are just embarking on the HS journey and I am so unsure what kind of group to join. We are Christians, but I don’t want to be looked down on for not using a Christian curriculum etc… Thanks. you have made me feel better. Jo

  9. I’ve felt that way all my life! Okay, maybe not ALL my life, but feeling that fence between my legs is not an unusual situation to find myself in (ooh, that sounds sort of rude, doesn’t it). Now that I’ve reached my, err, mature years it bothers me much less.

    My latest peeve is that stupid comment everyone makes when they hear we’re HSing. It never used to bug me at all. Not at all. But now – ugh, I can just hear my BP rising. It’s that old chestnut: Aren’t you worried about socialization? Usually said with a worried glance at my kids, who are some of the most extroverted (and polite) people in this town. And often times these are people who know me and my kids. I find it slightly depressing how brainwashed they are about this old bugaboo. I think it’s the same with people who aren’t religiously-inclined: they fear what they think it’s all about. Never mind. Well, try to never mind. I guess that’s why Dorothy kept closing her eyes and thinking of Kansas.

  10. I am a revert Catholic and quite liberal! I feel much more comfortable with my Catholic friends than with other Christian Evangelical denominations. It seems that Catholics know where they should stand on a topic and therefore don’t need to make it a point of every conversation.

    I have spent my entire life on the outside. I often long to just fit in somewhere. My dh calls me unique. It is nice to be married to one of “my people” but it doesn’t help the feeling of aloneness. It has been such a boast to my sanity to meet and read about people online that are a little more like me.

    What amazes me is that so many people feel this way. I think blogging breaks down some of the barriers we find IRL. I know I adore people on-line that I may not have befriended IRL. That said, it would be so much fun to plan a get together, maybe someplace central like Chicago.

    Thanks for stopping by my blog yesterday. I’m glad you kept my link up as well. 🙂

  11. lapazfarm

    Fellow liberal Catholic here, chiming in! (well, I guess that depends on your definition of liberal. Again with the labels!Agh!LOL!).
    Blogging has been a lifesaver for me as far as finding “my people”, because there sure are not many like me IRL here in the bible belt. I was beginning to wonder if there were any like me anywhere at all! Now that I have found a few I don’t feel quite so alone in the world.

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