Our family will celebrate two milestones in May: our youngest child will graduate from high school and, after 30 consecutive years, I’ll retire from my job as a homeschool mom. This also means we’re in our final sports season with a child at home. We’ve cheered for our children at hundreds of baseball and softball games, as well as countless track and cross-country meets. So much is coming to a close.
To call it the end of an era feels like an understatement.
I’ll be glad to sleep in on Saturday mornings instead of driving to track meets. I’ll be happy to have the option of spending my day in heated or air-conditioned comfort, depending on the weather, instead of standing outside in 40-something degrees wearing three layers of clothes, or on the flip side of seasons, searching for a spot of shade under the team canopy in the sweltering heat. But I’d be lying if I said I won’t be sad about it too. It’s bittersweet, for sure.
I’ve known for years that this final graduation might wreck me emotionally (I shared my feelings about graduating our four youngest within a six-year period here), but admittedly, I’ve focused on how I feel about my daughter’s graduation much more than how I feel about mine. At long last, I’m beginning to glimpse the gift in it. There’s a feeling of lightness when you lay down something you’ve shouldered for a time. Thirty years of homeschooling eight children carries a weight of responsibility I’ve been blessed to bear, but I’m ready to release it.
Several friends graduate a child this year, some their first and some their last; for families with one child, it’s all of the above. Graduations bring transition. They disrupt our routines and change our roles. And for many of us, change can be difficult to embrace.
It occurs to me that this cycle — the graduating, the leaving, the change in family dynamics — has taken place around me all my life. After graduation, my daughter wants to move out of state for a while, closer to one of her sisters, and I have to remember that I was once the one who left home, went to college, got married, and moved away. I only saw it from my point of view then, not my parents.
Children live at home for just a fraction of their lives and for only a fraction of ours too. Our journey together begins with small yet monumental things like changing diapers and learning to walk and talk, and progresses on to teaching right from wrong, how to behave when you win and when you lose, and supporting them when they’re betrayed by a friend. Eventually, we’re planning graduation parties, packing boxes when they move out, and holding their children, our precious grandchildren.
It’s easy to assume our children will need us less as they age — and in some ways that’s true — but as the mother of adults, I’ve seen that as they mature, so do our relationships. I want mine to know Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life and that I’m always there for them. Proverbs 22:6 tells us to “Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it.”
Mothers are North Stars, guiding our children back towards the comfort of family and home; our legacies have lasting value.
Fellow moms of seniors, don’t feel dismissed if your graduate thinks they know everything and you know little. Independence is a necessary stage of growth. One day they’ll know the truth we all learn: there are seasons that nothing but the grace of God and the unconditional love of family will carry us through.
I want to step into this new stage with grace and a full heart, thankful for my children, and blessed to be their mom. If you’ve graduated your youngest, I’d love to hear from you. If you’re graduating a senior this year, how do you feel?
“ One day they’ll know the truth we all learn: there are seasons that nothing but the grace of God and the unconditional love of family will carry us through.”
I love this! And so true.
Dawn Camp says
Thank you, Gail!
When our youngest graduated I had many of the same feelings you’ve expressed. I had home schooled her for 9 yrs, attended countless soccer games in all kinds of weather, and watched her navigate her senior year as a college student doing post-secondary courses. I ugly cried at the last soccer game, but did much better at graduation. She went off to a Christian university and it was hard experiencing the “not-knowing” of who her friends were, what’s she doing today at this moment, but at the same time my husband & I had raised her for this. She is now 31 living in a state many miles away from us and not walking as closely with God as I thought she would be at this time in her life, but I have learned to put her in God’s hands. My prayers include Philippians 1:6 and Isaiah 59:21. God is faithful!
Dawn Camp says
I think I’ll be ugly crying at our last track meet. Hang in there and keep praying, Sharon.
Hayley Williams says
I, too, will be graduating my baby this May! I homeschooled both of my kids, one graduated in 2020, and then my last will be a month away. I am sad, but I also think we are ready for a new season. All of us. God gifted me with a part time job two years ago and it has been a big help in me finding my role in the season to come. I am just waiting on this sadness to come crashing down on me, because of right now, we are just like, “Let’s do this!”. Thank you for this, it is very relatable to me. God’s grace and strength will carry us into the next chapter of our lives.
Dawn Camp says
Hayley, may God hold your hand and your heart in this season to come!
The year I graduated my youngest was one of the hardest years of my life. In fact, it took me several years after to come to terms with it. But, in addition to my son graduating that year, he also went into the military so I went from seeing him all the time to not being able to even speak with him for 4 months, spending holidays without him, etc. This same year I lost my Mom who was my best friend, sounding board, mentor, design consultant, etc., and I was all of those things to her. I’d like to say the years got easier but that would not be true. The difficulty of life keeps cycling through like the change of seasons. I have learned though that it’s okay to not be okay. I am still trying to get the hang of having the joy of the Lord and not feeling joyful. I am starting to understand it more and more. I am so thankful for His grace. Practicing/showing gratitude is my daily goal, it helps me get through the times when I feel don’t have the answers for the hard stuff (also a recovering control freak). I am praying for you, Dawn.
Dawn Camp says
Christine, I’m praying for you today. Thank you for your comment.
Nancy Hanselman says
My kids are ten years apart so I’ve been through it all once and know it isn’t easy. Our youngest graduates this year and it is too bittersweet. Our son went to college 8 hours away and our daughter has chosen the same school.
I won’t be able to visit her for lunches or go shopping with her like I would have had she picked a school closer to home. Thankfully we have FaceTime!
I am going to miss her piles of crafts, the clothes she leaves lying around, her shoes I trip on in the kitchen, and mostly being her sounding board with good and bad experiences. I’m grateful my kids talk to me about Everything, despite that being difficult sometimes. I pray that continues when she moves onto college…
My sister asked me what I’m going to do when she graduates, haha!
I know for sure I’m going to visit my grandkids more since I won’t have my weekends full of her activities. I’ll pick up some hobbies I stopped when she was born and I was trying to raise the kids and work. I’ll visit her and call her and miss her like crazy but this is life. Change is inevitable so I’m going to try and embrace it and look for the good with Gods grace.
Dawn Camp says
Nancy, I pray you have many blessings in store in this next season.
I graduate my youngest this year as well and unlike his sister, he is moving farther away for college. I’m looking forward to having a little more me time, but I’m definitely going to miss the running we do for extracurricular activities. I just pray I’ve done my best.
Dawn Camp says
Melissa, God has a plan for your child and you’ve done (and will continue to do) your part. Rest in that and enjoy your me time!
My youngest graduated last year. I watched my sisters kids grow and move out and what they went through as empty nesters and I thought I will never be like that. It’s very hard in the beginning. Your whole life is turned upside down. It’s hard just living as a couple again because you are a completely different couple now then when you first got married. But you adapt and grow and your new life is beautiful again. I have always said cherish your children at every age because we only have them for a short time. Enjoy each stage even those turbulent teen years. When they leave for college or a new job, you see a toddler walking away from you, but when they come home you see the young adult they have become and are so proud.
Beth Williams says
Congratulations on raising & homeschooling children. Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 states it best There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens: a time to be born and a time to die, a time to plant and a time to uproot, a time to kill and a time to heal,
a time to tear down and a time to build, a time to weep and a time to laugh, time to mourn and a time to dance, a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them, a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing, a time to search and a time to give up, a time to keep and a time to throw away, a time to tear and a time to mend, a time to be silent and a time to speak, a time to love and a time to hate, a time for war and a time for peace.
Everyone goes through seasons of life. From 2007 till 2018 I was a caretaker for my parents & in-laws. Then that suddenly stopped. No more doctors appointments, hospital visits, etc. I prayed & God gave me a good part-time job that has turned into a full-time position–one I don’t really like. The holidays are the hardest for me. Most people talk about getting together with family. Hubby & I no longer have any family close by. Add to that our pets both died in those times. Lately I have no one to take care of or worry about. Trying to figure life out. God will see us all through these times.