The circle grows

Back at the beginning of the school year, I enrolled our youngest daughter in a gymnastics class for 4 and 5 year olds. The first day of class, I discovered there were five girls in the class, and three of them were named, “Lily.”

Before we moved, our daughter would often take gymnastics classes at the park district, and in my mind, I scheduled them as part of my work day. The gymnastics facility had Wi-Fi and tables I could use to spread out with my laptop and paperwork. I was guaranteed a solid hour of work time with no interruptions. My daughter was happy. I was happy. It was better than daycare.

So, when she started her gymnastics class here with all of the “Lily”s, I had a similar expectation. This would be an hour of my week that I could count on to help me carefully balance a part-time job that allows me to work from home part of the time, with the crazy schedule of our family.

But when the class started, I quickly realized we were no longer in Kansas. This facility didn’t have tables or Wi-Fi. There was only a small waiting area, with seating arranged in a U. Still, I brought along my laptop and cell phone and attempted to do whatever I could do without Wi-Fi.

None of the moms of the “Lily”s (or the other non-Lily) tried to work. They all sat and socialized. I felt bad about not joining in, so I would offer a few comments here and there. They would acknowledge me, then return to fast-paced chatting about vacations and raising small children and other topics that weren’t overly interesting to me. I had a lot on my plate those first few months of gymnastics, so I usually kept my nose planted in my computer.

Well, a few months in, I was feeling quite convicted about giving up this opportunity to get to know some new families in our new community. This was one hour a week during which I could be trying to form new relationships. I could find another hour to work. I stopped taking my laptop, and I attempted to join the crowd. But by this time, the other moms were already planning play dates and their girls were bringing each other coloring pictures and bracelets. We were clearly not part of the group.

I kept trying to find some common ground. To interject a word. To offer a complement or ask a question. But I just couldn’t break in. I guess I was tagged as The Rude Laptop mom for all of gymnastics class history.

After Christmas, a new session started, and I reluctantly signed my daughter up for the new session. I was starting to dread gymnastics class like I dreaded seventh grade. But my daughter loved it, so we would go.

We discovered that with the new session, many of the girls had moved on to other interests. Only one Lily was left, and a few new girls had joined the class. I quickly tried to strike up a conversation with The Lily Mom, but she pulled out her phone for the rest of class. Two new moms had joined a fitness class that happened during that time. A third new mom, brought with her a pile of books, and rarely looked up. After all these weeks of gymnastics, I was ready to get to be part of the social circle, and I had lost my chance.

Today, I had given up all hope of talking to anyone. I brought along a craft project and decided to just sit outside in my cold van for the entire hour. I ran in to drop off my daughter and as I helped her take off her shoes, I glanced over at The New Mom with the books. I immediately recognized what type of books the new mom was so intently studying.

“Saxon Phonics?!” I asked. “You must home school.”

Even in the world of home schooling, it was rare that I ever met anyone who used Saxon Phonics. It’s a very intense curriculum, and you have to be a complete geek about language to possess any desire to inflict yourself with it’s unique teaching approach.

The New Mom and I started chatting furiously about home schooling, ages of kids and curriculum. Within minutes, we had discovered some incredible commonalities.

We both have 8th grade boys at private Christian schools who will potentially be going to public school in the fall for the first time. They will be attending the same high school. We both have 12 year old boys and 5 year old girls. We both have home schooled and private schooled, and like us, their family recently moved to the town where we live. I work at a church, and her husband is a pastor at a church. He works with a family that we have known for more than 15 years. The similarities went on and on.

We exchanged phone numbers and made promises to introduce our kids. We were able to talk through some interesting topics that random strangers would never have in common! As the hour flew by, I just couldn’t believe it. Once again, God had placed someone in our path with amazing connections.

This has happened several times now. I don’t usually write them down because I don’t want to invade anyone’s privacy by giving away too much information on my blog. But it has been absolutely amazing to see how God is putting families in our lives who are becoming good friends. I could write several more blog posts about the people we have met in unusual situations. As our 8th grader prepares to go into high school, we now know at least five Christian families with kids going to his school. He’s also getting to know a bunch of great boys on his travel basketball team, and we are starting to get to know their families as well. My fears of him going to public school for the first time in a new community are starting to be eased, as I realize that he won’t be going alone.

In these moments, I always look back at our journey of selling our house so quickly and not even knowing where we should move. I think about the first time we looked at this house, and how my heart starting pounding.  I think about all of our second guessing and uncertainty. And then God gives me one more sign that we did the right thing.

Happy Wednesday, everyone! It’s gymnastics day!

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