I’m interrupting my series on homemaking to share some personal thoughts about my weekend. Last Saturday I moved the final tassel from right to left at a child’s graduation from high school.
Graduation day is a memorable one for all moms. Whatever your schooling choice, moms sacrifice in various ways to see that day come: helping with homework, spending countless hours carpooling to school and sports activities, shopping for clothes and supplies, reminding about assignments, worrying about test scores…the list goes on.
As a home schooler, though, last weekend was especially meaningful because it brought nearly 30 years of teaching my children at home to an end. Every parent is a home educator. We all teach our kids to walk, talk, be respectful, clean their rooms and not talk with food in their mouths. We impart to them our values, train them not to cross the street without looking both ways, sit up late with them while they study, and warn them about the dangers of choosing the wrong friends. So if you’re not homeschooling, please don’t read this (and other) posts I write about my experiences teaching my kids at home as a suggestion that you’re not teaching yours, too. You are!
The thing I’ve been able to do is have more time with my kids than if they were in school elsewhere all day.
The fact that my adult children are smart and have good jobs after getting post-high school educations without debt makes me smile.
Because in some ways, I really wasn’t a great homeschooler. I only built one baking soda volcano and it didn’t work. While my fun homeschooling friends were forming letters by strategically placing pillows on the floor to teach their toddlers the alphabet, I got colorful refrigerator magnet letters that ended up…well…I don’t know where. So my kids learned their letters with boring ‘ol pencil and paper. And the only math game I remember having was the box of timetable flashcards Lady got ahold of when she was a puppy.
As last Saturday was approaching, I grew increasingly sentimental. A part of me certainly shared the relief of friends who celebrated when years of the daily grind of homeschooling came to an end. However, my retirement from home schooling snuck up on me and most of me isn’t glad it’s over.
My memories have been going to places like:
- Having morning devotions that ended with watching my kids pray for each other…or with them having to ask forgiveness for irritating or being unkind to one another. Smile. Either was a meaningful end to our time with the Lord together.
- Re-enacting a Civil War battle after lunch in the woods near Bull Run using bananas as weapons.
- Listening to Jaime teaching little Jake to read from the other room while I went over a math lesson with Jesse.
- Inviting a bunch of the kid’s friends for sleepovers when a snowstorm was approaching so tomorrow’s math could be learning fractions while measuring out cookie dough ingredients and doing P.E. by sledding down the hill on Shiplett Boulevard.
- Rejoicing over Janelle sounding out her very first sentence all herself.
- Seeing Benny’s eyes glisten when the kids recited chunks of scripture as their gift to him one Father’s Day.
- Discovering tall, teenaged Josh asleep with baby Julia on his chest when he was supposed to be writing a English paper.
- Using “The Peacemaker for Kids” to help the kids avoid the “slippery slope” of insisting on their own way, faking peace instead of making peace, and refusing to forgive me and each other from the heart.
- Interrupting school to surprise them with a packed cooler in the van just waiting for us to have lunch and shoot baskets at Van Dyke Park.
And then came Julia.
When we brought her home from the hospital when Benny and I were 40, we drove home amazed at such a gift — and laughing about how we would “be almost 60 years old before she graduates high school!!” But that was so far away back then! Benny joked that a big reason why I wanted to adopt this little sweetheart was to extend my home schooling years. The wife he begged to do this “just for one year” in 1983 had turned into a homeschool-loving, American history-teaching, field trip-planning mom-turned-teacher who got ridiculously excited when UPS showed up with next fall’s books.
I can still almost smell them.
Oh, I had my bad days. My kids can tell you about them. I’m sure a part of each of them was glad when their “no more pencils, no more books, no more Mom’s dirty looks” graduation day came!
But my memories of home schooling are full of laughs and tender moments and the joy of folding laundry while overhearing Jesse and Joey arguing about how many points Josh scored in his last game or Jake reciting the order of Old Testament books (Job, Psalms, Problems!).
So thank you, Julia. There are many reasons for which I’m grateful God brought you into our family. But, yeah, one of them is because I got to home school for five more years than I would have otherwise.