One great thing about the Keys for our family is the social scene. We are used to being the only people in the marina with kids, and our kids are used to entertaining themselves and each other. And traveling isn’t much better, as very few people out there cruising are in our stage of life. So we meet up with other boat families whenever possible, and cherish those times as rarities. While Jay is sort of a lone wolf, I am more of a social butterfly. I struggle with feelings of isolation when my only girlfriend also happens to be my husband (this doesn’t work so well), and if he is traveling for work, it can be pretty lonely. Sometimes I feel like our boat is a little desert island, but if that’s true, then coming to the Keys is a social oasis.
When we arrived in Marathon, we came “home” to an established group of friends among the homeschool and boatschool families here. That means playmates for the kids and “colleagues” for me. Even Jay enjoys having someone to have a beer with from time to time. Take Two has become the party boat. We’ve hosted friends for the Christmas boat parade, dinner parties that required using both indoor and outdoor tables, Lego playdates, kayaking expeditions, and a Thursday night tradition which has come to be known as “Mom’s Night In.” While Jay was working in Fort Lauderdale, I would invite the other homeschool moms over after all the kids were in bed for a night of drinking, snacking, and lots of talking and laughing. For me it was a life-saver, and I like to think it was refreshing for the others who came to sit in the warm glow of our cockpit lights. When we move on this spring, it will be sorely missed. Although I’m sure I could replicate it somewhere else with other women, it just won’t be the same.
I have great admiration for this brave group of fellow moms who have chosen to educate their children at home here in the Keys. People often feel isolated on the islands away from the mainland, and staying at home with one’s children would seem to exacerbate that feeling, but the community here is so supportive that it definitely eases the burden. The teaching philosophies vary widely, as do the number of children and parenting styles, but the conversations are not contentious. I have learned that there really is more than one way to skin a cat, as the saying goes. I relish not only the common goals we share, but also the different ways we’ve contrived of reaching them.
At Mom’s Night In, we get to talk about these and other things without the constant interruption of little ones. We actually get to finish conversations that we start, learn things about each other that otherwise we would never know, and get a chance to be something other than so-and-so’s wife or so-and-so’s mother—to let our hair down a little and just be ourselves. For a few magical hours, we come together to share our journeys, let off a little steam, and re-charge our mom-batteries. My thanks goes out to all the wonderful women who have hopped in my dinghy to join me on my little island this year: you have all taught me something, not the least of which is that friendship comes in lots of exciting flavors. You are funny, kind, thoughtful, creative, intelligent, and loyal—I can’t wait until next time!