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?