An Official Homeschool Graduate
Well, I have done what I have often felt was impossible. I have produced one official homeschool graduate!
Congrats to my Austin!!!
I know all moms, probably feel like they are going to have a panic attack when their kids graduate. I mean, it really is a big milestone and it is the doorway to adulthood with individual choices, lives, achievements, and yes, even failures. Sadly, we parents can no longer shelter them and protect them once they step out into the world. This is one of the hardest things I will ever have to do, learning to let go.
I have poured myself into this child every single day, every single hour for most of his 18 years, and honestly, if he doesn’t have a successful happy life ( by my own silly predefined terms), deep down inside I will blame myself. I will question every moment, every choice, everything I had done from day one. With being a homeschool mom, there are no “fall guy” teachers to take the blame, no “peer pressure” to accuse (if I wanted to play the blame game)… it is all me, baby! If there are any issues in their life, I will beat myself up about it (like I always do) even if there is no logical reason too.
Some day, if he (or any of my kids) get disciplined on a job due to a money shortage in the register or something… I’m going to blame myself for not making sure they had a really good grasp on that money lesson. The one where I labeled and priced all the items in the house and let the kids “buy” these items from each other and learn to “make change” and add things up just like a “real store… even though mock real life experiences outweigh boring number problems on a page any day”
Or if they are cutting lumber on a job and they cut the wrong length causing their company to deduct the mistake from their paycheck, yep, I will blame myself for the day we spent running around the house measuring everything we could get our hands on. I will wish I had stuck with the textbook that day, although it would not have been near as fun or meaningful!
Or when they are out in the world and come across some historical fact that evaded their knowledge along the way and they are belittled for that lack of knowledge, I will feel responsible for the days upon days we opted to go to museums instead of sticking to the history books and memorizing those important dates on the timeline, even if that meant they would not know what is it like to stand next to a bi-plane or see how paper is really made.
Sure, they may not know the date of the Gettysburg Address but they know what an almost 200-year-old log cabin looks, feels, and smells like.
They may not even know the year Columbus “sailed the ocean blue,” but they know what a mammoth dig site looks like up close!
And lastly (and most importantly,) they may not know much about Greek mythology, but they know about God’s people and strive to be one of them!
But whatever occasion in life that comes, where their education turns out to be askew from what the world deems it should be, the biggest question I will always ask is,
“Did I make a mistake the day I decided to take my child out of public school to homeschool him?”
These questions of doubt I have already asked myself when I see them falter in some area of their academics. I have always second guessed myself and my abilities. But I have come to realize, these are my personal insecurities and have no bearing upon my children.
My children have grown up in a God fearing home with parents who love them and who have done their best to give their children every opportunity to learn in a varied environment while instilling in them Godly principals and wisdom. This was the main reason I started homeschooling. So when those pesky insecure questions arise, I only have to look at the Godly character that is imbedded in my children, and I know the answer, “Yes, I did the right thing by homeschooling.”
Along with encouraging the children to have a desire to do God’s will, I also know my children have a love for learning. Maybe not so much a great love for long division, diagraming sentences, or cursive handwriting, but they love to know things. My oldest son especially, he researches so much on his own and has done this for years. He truly has a hunger for knowledge, so when he comes across something in his path that I may feel I have failed to make him fully aware of, I have faith in him that he will learn it!
So honestly, the real issue I have right now isn’t so much their quality of education, my issue is empty nest syndrome . You see, I have had my kids by my side, day in and day out for 18+ years. I am already feeling a little lost not having three children sitting around the table when I teach these days. Even though right now my oldest in just in the other room doing some online studying , I am not really part of that. This is a new thing for me, a scary thing. I do not do very well with change and as he continues to spread his wings, I have to caution myself not to try to clip them. I have to watch my words of “encouragement” to make sure my fears do not infect him with doubt. I have to gently nudge him to the edge of the nest when everything in my body is screaming pull him back.
I had to stop writing this blog a week ago, it was too hard to finish in my over emotional state, I believe I was in the process of going through the five stages of grief.
1) Denial – I denied that he was graduating until about a month before it happened!
2) Anger– I was angry with myself for all my failures I felt I had along the way homeschooling.
3) Bargaining – I even considered holding him back to try to cover anything I felt I missed.
4) Depression – This was mostly happening in concurrence with the other stages but snowballed as I prepared his graduation party and as I wrote the top part of this post! I considered rewriting all of it but I felt it was important to leave so others could see there is a process. Don’t get stuck on stages 1-4… stage 5 is the goal!!
5) Acceptance – ah finally getting here!!!!
I am happy to report, that since last week… now that he has had his graduation party and we have made it official… I feel like I am sliding into the stage of acceptance . Instead of crying over my little boy growing up all the time, I am now feeling moments of excitement, waiting to see what kind of man he will become. I am thrilled to see him excited about this next step in life and the adventures that lie ahead.
I had to realize that he still needs me. Maybe not in an “everyday grading his papers and helping him with math” kind of way but more in an advisory kind of way. I share photography links to him that may be interesting or helpful, I look at his photos and tell him which I like best and why. I help him talk out his choices and bring up questions he may not have considered but I am on the sidelines now. It is his life to live and his choices to make, I am just honored he includes me from time to time.
My “job” as mom will never be over, it is a lifelong career! Just because they grow up and one day moves out, doesn’t’ mean I am no longer “Mom.” It doesn’t mean they no longer need me, they just need me differently.
And that is ok.
I needed to write this blog post to work out my own feelings and fears in my own way, and I hope that maybe it can help someone else get to that stage five and be “ok.”
Blessings to you,
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