As a homeschool mum, I believe that we will experience ‘Empty Nest Syndrome‘ twice – per child! Once when our children graduate from our homeschool and again when they finally fledge and go out into the world on their own.
I want to share my own experience of having my eldest daughter graduate because let me tell you, I was NOT expecting the emotional knock I took.
No one tells you that there will be a mourning process to go through when your first baby graduates. On all the homeschooling blogs I read it’s all ‘oh wow, we are all so happy’ etc. And of course, we are. We are happy and proud of our children. We are thrilled and excited when they go off to college and study something that they are passionate about. But there is a sadness in a mama’s heart that no one seems to talk about.
On the very first day of lessons with my eldest daughter out at college, our day started as it always done, in God’s Word. DD2 and I had our Bible time and then moved onto ‘Read Aloud’ time, as we have always done. I think I got about 5 sentences into our reading when it suddenly struck me that our days would never ever be the same. A ‘new’ normal would have to be established. At that point – and really it’s embarrassing to admit but I want to be real with my readers – I started sobbing. I just could not stop crying. DD2 must have thought that her mother had completely lost the plot because let’s face it unless you’ve been there, you just don’t know.
In that moment I was mourning. Mourning the fact that there would only be one in our lessons. Mourning the fact that the week before had been our last ‘together’ nature walk, something that has been so precious to all of us. Mourning that I would no longer hear her input in our lessons, in our readings, in our everything that had been our ‘normal’ every single day for the last 10 years.
No one told me that I would be mourning. No one told me that I would be sobbing on my sofa because my heart was happy for my daughter but so desperately sad at the thought that life as we knew it had just changed. Just like that.
I totally expected to have all those feelings at the point where my children actually leave the home, but not this.
Fast forward 5 months to the present day. A new normal has been established and it’s beginning to feel comfortable. Oh, I would still turn back the clock 10 years if you gave me a fraction of a chance, but I love to see how my daughter is thriving at college. She is loving her course. Loving what she is doing. Growing in skill and in maturity.
I am blessed that she still lives at home, that she is only at college 2.5 days a week and at home for the other 2.5 days. Although she does not participate in any of our lessons, she is there, working on her college assignments. We still go on walks together, but we simply enjoy each others company and our beautiful surrounds. She often tells me how happy she is that she was homeschooled, how nature study was her most favourite lesson, and how it is that part of our homeschooling life that has her wanting to become a botanical illustrator. She often tells me that when she has children, she is going to homeschool them and give them the childhood that she had.
Now my tears are for something completely different. They are tears of blessing. I feel blessed to hear these words come from her. Yes, there is a time of mourning, but it passes. There is joy and peace now that comes from knowing that we did the right thing. That our life choice to homeschool our children was totally the right one and I would do it again and again. It is a joy to see this young woman flourishing and so sure of who she is in Christ. It is a joy to share this special adult/parent relationship with her. How blessed I feel to have had all those years living and learning at home with my children. Blessed beyond measure.
I have 19 months left with my ‘baby’. Next year she will graduate and I’m sure there will be tears and a sense of loss that first day when she goes off to college and I am left with an empty nest. But I know that God will raise a new purpose for my days.
There are a few things I have learnt through this experience that I want to pass on to other homeschool mums.
- There will be a time of sadness. This is quite normal. Be kind to yourself but look at the positives.
- Remember that our purpose was always to raise our children to be good, kind, contributing members of society. To raise them so that hopefully they will make the world a slightly better place for those around them to live. If we have done that then we can rest in peace and joy when we see them taking their place in the world.
- It is the natural order of things for children to grow up, leave home, and start families of their own. Rest in the understanding that our time and lives are part of God’s circle of life. I’m not the first mama to cry tears of mourning over this life event and I will certainly not be the last. It’s one of those crosses that all mothers are to bear.
- I may be losing my ‘child’ but I am gaining the most amazing ‘adult child’ relationship. This is a precious thing. I LOVE having ‘grown-up’ conversations with my eldest daughter. She truly is not just a daughter but a friend.
- A new ‘normal’ will be established. With time the home will not seem so quiet and empty.
- Prepare for this time by persuing a few of your own interests. Whether it be taking a free online course on a subject you are interested in, continuing your own self-education (for me it is reading Charlotte Mason’s Original Homeschooling Series), a hobby, anything that peeks your interest. It is important to do something for you.
Finally, remember that life is full of seasons. Like the changing of the earth’s seasons, so are those of our lives. Each season holds something beautiful for us to behold. See the beauty of the new season.
God’s richest blessings to all mama’s reading this today.