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The Homeschool Days Are Long, but the Years Go by Fast

When James and I brought our first little bundle of joy home from the hospital in 1992, I remember feeling like a jumbled ball of widely varying and often conflicting emotions, ranging from sheer happiness and inexpressible love—for both my husband and our new daughter—to being overwhelmed and utterly exhausted. 

Olivia was at once the most adorable baby girl in the universe and the most draining creature I had ever encountered, needing to constantly be held and walked and rocked and sung to, and not particularly fond of going to sleep at a decent hour either. I remember those early days of parenthood wondering in a panic if I would ever again know what it feels like to get a good night’s sleep or to have a shower before 5:00 PM.

Twenty months later, our second blessing from God came into the world. Alex was a gentle soul, an observer, and the perfect balance to her gregarious, energetic big sister. In spite of the exhaustion and the self-sacrifice, motherhood became the most amazing gift in my life, and I have felt fulfilled and abundantly blessed in raising these two beautiful daughters.

By the time our girls were about one and three years old, we had decided that homeschooling was the right choice for our family. Oh how I adored teaching my little girls over the next seventeen years! And yet, even though there were many, many great moments of learning and discovery shared together, it was a lot of hard work. 

There were many days—especially when my husband was traveling for his job week after week—that I was desperately exhausted and wondering how I’d make it through the day just getting our school basics done, let alone keeping the house in order, preparing meals, doing laundry, running errands, serving at church, spending time with family, paying the bills, going on field trips, having play dates with friends, going to the library, doing arts and crafts and science experiments, and trying to find a quiet moment for myself here and there, too.

It goes without saying that this journey of home education that we’ve chosen—nurturing and discipling our precious children—is no small undertaking.

There were endless messes in our home created by busy little adventurers. Sticky floors, fingerprints galore, spills on the carpet, endless piles of dishes and laundry to wash, school books and toys scattered about, and craft supplies to put away. It wasn’t quite the disaster I had imagined, but I certainly did let the messes of everyday life irritate me and rob me of my peace at times. I vividly remember sitting on the floor one evening sorting through the girls’ toys in the playroom, which I had scooped into a giant pile in the center, trying to get things back in order. I wish I could say I was a joyful mother in that moment, and many other moments like it, but sadly I wasn’t. 

If there’s one thing I could go back and do over from those early years of parenting it would be to spend more time simply enjoying my children—messes and all—and not sweat the other stuff quite so much.

As the girls got older, I taught them to help keep order in our home, and I also learned that a few messes here and there were totally worth the experiences we had baking cookies, finger painting, and making collages or salt dough maps.

The homeschool days were long, but I wouldn’t have missed those years with my girls for anything. In addition to all of those special “firsts” such as first smile, first tooth, first steps, and first full sentences, by homeschooling them I also got to share in many “aha” moments with my girls. Like when they struggled to learn a concept in math week after week and then they finally got it. What a joyous victory to share with them! When they struggled with character issues like selfishness or laziness or rudeness, together we worked through those issues and I had a front row seat as I watched the marvelous transformation of their hearts toward selflessness, hard work, and kindness.

Our daughters are grown young women now, both having graduated from high school at home. They have entered adulthood with grace and so many possibilities for the future, with their feet firmly planted on the path to fulfilling the plans and purposes the Lord has for each of them. 

Alex’s graduation in 2011 was a pivotal moment in this mama’s heart. I had to come to terms with the fact that I had no more children to raise. My baby girls were both now grown. It’s in that moment where you look back and wonder, “Where did all of those years go? They flew by in the blink of an eye!”

We all know that when you’re in the trenches with younger children, there are days you seriously wish you could actually blink your eyes and fast-forward through the long, challenging, labor-intensive, messy, emotional days of child rearing. And yet, when your youngest reaches adulthood and you move into this new season of life, there is a strong draw to look back with longing for days-gone-by. I know I sure have!  Oh what I wouldn’t give to snuggle my little girls while reading to them on the couch one more time!

I came to realize that we never were raising children. Parenting is about raising future adults. And so, having reached this stage of having raised my children to adulthood, instead of being sad over what I no longer have, I can rejoice at a job well done. James and I made a choice to invest in training up our children in the way they should go. It was a sacrifice and a substantial investment of our time, energy, and resources.

When I look at our daughters now, I see the fruit of our labor and I feel blessed. We also now have an amazing son-in-law and our first grandchild to love with the marriage of our oldest daughter in 2011 and [UPDATE] the birth of their first child in 2015. It’s exciting to see our kids moving forward as young adults, living their lives, and using the gifts, abilities, and passions God placed in each of them. They are delightful, hard-working, talented young women whose lives reflect the love of a faithful God. I truly couldn’t ask for anything more!

So hang in there, mama! Wherever you are in the parenting and home education journey, I want to encourage you and remind you that it is worth every ounce of energy and sacrifice you pour into your kids. The Lord promises that we will reap a harvest if we do not grow weary in doing well. While the days may crawl by at a snail’s pace at times, the years really do go by fast. Soak it all up and enjoy every moment with these precious gifts from the Lord.

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Reader Comments (2)

"It’s in that moment where you look back and wonder, “Where did all of those years go? They flew by in the blink of an eye!”

I can SO relate to this with my "baby" graduating from our homeschool in a month! Thanks for putting into such eloquent words pretty much exactly how I've been feeling these days! :)

April 24, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterPam Cole

It's an amazing journey, isn't it, Pam? So excited for your family as you transition into being graduated homeschoolers! :-)

April 24, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterNancy Manos

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