She went out the door too fast in order to escape the tears in both of our eyes. And though she looks forward to her bright future, I look longingly back on my past. Sunshine left the house, a shadow in its place. The one with vim and vigor left the house empty and motionless.
My daughter has moved out…even if temporarily, but she hopes she has moved out forever.
But it’s all good. Timing is right, for she does not belong to me, but to Him Who entrusted her to my care. And if I can not let go now, when. can. I?
It is true…she is more than daughter, she is friend and confidant. But she can do that from her apartment, rather than from her empty bedroom, right?
I guess a parent’s fear is that they will be forgotten; That all the sacrifice of parenthood will be overlooked; That only my shortcomings and failures will be remembered; That she feels she has escaped rather than been set free.
Because when we hold too tight, we force our children to escape. When we empower them we set them free. Free to soar to heights that only strengthened wings can fly. I can smother and injure or I can coax and coach.
So fly little fledgling! Let the wind of His Spirit take you places you’ve never imagined. Fly higher, farther and more adventurous than I ever have.
Almost a year ago, I wrote about the death of the role of mother. Of course I will always be a mother to my three children, but not in the same, every day, home school, stay-at-home mom way that I’ve been for the past nineteen years. You see, I’m enrolling my youngest into college…and in the flurry of excitement, visiting schools, filling out FASFA’s, scholarship applications and auditions, I hardly have time to feel anything…at least until the house is empty and all I can hear is the dog snoring and the refrigerator running. Because now, I am alone with my thoughts, much like the day I realized that I was the mother of an eighteen year old, I grieve. But this is far worse, all that there is left to who I was before motherhood and home schooling is a shadow.
I have heard mothers scoff at the place I find myself in. I have heard them criticize ladies before me who have wrestled with this identity crisis. They have whispered behind the back of this pained one, “That’s why I don’t believe in home education. If her focus was more on her husband, she wouldn’t be so lost right now. Home schooling is far too child centered, and not nearly enough helpmate centered.” I hope that our choice to educate our children and everything else that we have done was Christ centered and not people centered at all.
My husband recently lost his job; a job that he loved dearly. He anguished over it, and grieved over the fact that he was no longer associated with this company that he so loved and admired…and he only worked there for 2 years! I have been on this journey for almost ten times longer than he has, and yet no one blames him or thinks that he’s silly for feeling disappointed, and maybe even a little depressed. After much thought, I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s normal to be saddened at the end of a journey. It’s kind of like the let down you feel when you come home from vacation, or after all of the Christmas presents have been opened; the “what now?” feeling.
I suddenly have all of this time on my hands, and I don’t want to fill it with just anything. I don’t want to give over my future to the first thing that comes along. So I guess in addition to grief, I feel a little anxiety, like a girl just out of high school who is deciding whether to get married or go to college. I mean this is the rest of my life, I must choose wisely! And though the feeling may be similar to the high schooler, I don’t have as much time to fix it if I make a mistake.
In the midst of all of this confusion, I do feel a glimmer of hope and excitement. I know that when I acknowledge Him…He will direct my paths. And His paths always drip with abundance. My prayer is that I don’t bend under the pressure of uncertainty, but rather that I bow humbly offering my life to His Majesty knowing that He has plans for me, and that they are good. So now I’ll encourage myself like David did. Stay still, and know that He is God. Don’t bend, but bow, these must be the words I choose to live by. For I am out of control, and let me tell you I’m not loving it. However, deep inside my heart I know that this is the only place to be; the place where his hand turns my heart like a compass to new lands and adventures planned out, just for me.
I haven’t had time to write in a while…my son is graduating from high school. Home educating high school is a lot of work. A LOT of work!! But I’ve found that it’s well worth the effort. One of the greatest advantages I’ve found is that apart from the core subjects, you can really create a curriculum based on your child’s gifts and talents. The curriculum I use is called Tapestry of Grace. It is a literature based unit study program that stresses what is known as a classical education. I highly recommend it.
My oldest is entering his junior year in college. His major is business and finance. His education was the most “normal”. We (he and I, together) identified that his interests were in business and finding different ways to make, save and invest money. Therefore we set out a very rigorous program in the basics. Math, literature, writing and history especially. We also concentrated on prep work for his ACT. He graduated a year early, got a very decent 26 on his ACT (even though he had a terrible head cold), and won a full ride scholarship with the Evans Scholarship program.
One down, two to go…
My second son is an artist. His high school experience was completely different. I gave him very basic courses with as many creative evaluation assignments as possible. For instance, when we were studying the 1920’s, and Charlie Chaplin, I had him write, film and produce a short movie. As soon as I recognized him as an art student, I did my homework and found that most art schools did not emphasize standardized testing. Therefore, we didn’t do the ACT prep work that my first student did. Instead, we concentrated on building his portfolio so that he would not only be accepted to the school of his choice, but so that he could apply for as many art based scholarships as he could. He will be attending the Illinois Institute of Art in October.
Two down, one to go…
My daughter is a junior in high school. She sings like an angel, albeit a very soulful sometimes rather rocky angel, writes like a poet and is all about literature and Shakespeare. She thrives on being in a production. The way she and I have plugged through the high school years has been to do the minimal amount of math and science, be in as many plays and productions as possible, write a fifty page literary analysis and allow her to lead worship in two bands and sing backup in another. In addition, she carries a very full literature, writing and history load as well as philosophy and art history. Whew!
My journey as a high school, home school mother has led me down three different paths, for three different individuals. I am blessed that my children have come to the realization at an early age what it is that they long to do. Because of this, we have been able to tailor make their high school experience to be as beneficial as possible in order to help them on their path to the future God has for them.
I’m really not sure why I’m writing this post, except that maybe someone reading has wondered about the benefits of home schooling a high schooler. Or perhaps you are a home school mom who gets bogged down with details and loses sight of the “main thing”. What is the main thing? My husband and I decided long ago, that the main thing for our household, was to use the high school years to prepare our children in the best way possible so that they are able to tackle the challenges ahead. Have we done that? NO!! We’ve definitely made some mistakes, but I wouldn’t say that they were academic mistakes. Academically, our children have been prepared for the plans God has for them and God gets the glory for that, because it was his mercy and grace that He revealed to our children His plans, and that He showed us how to guide them to their destination.
Now the scary part…what do I do when I’m done? Yikes! I have a whole year to think and pray about it…