This is my first year officially “retired” from my job as homeschooling mom. I am thankful for my family and the blessing of homeschooling my four children for nearly 20 years. This fall I saw my third kiddo off to university. Two will graduate this school year-one this semester, the other next quarter. I wanted to share how the transition has looked for me and what life on the other side of homeschooling looks like.
In January of this year, we decided to go as a family to Costa Rica to further our Spanish studies. (Even my UCSD son took off a quarter to study with us!) I knew that this semester would most likely be the last one to formally teach my kids. For two years prior I had been teaching grammar and writing part time at a small private school and had been toying with the idea of getting my teaching credential-which seems somewhat goofy after teaching nearly every subject at almost every grade level four times over. Regardless, the state needs some way to measure teacher-readiness, so I studied for and passed the CSAT and CBEST in order to enter a state teaching program. For a variety of reasons, I decided the timing wasn’t right and put off that plan indefinitely. While abroad- out of our community, home, and routine- I wrestled with what direction I should go when the last of my kids was no longer under my tutelage.
At the risk of sounding melodramatic, I was experiencing somewhat of an identity crisis. As a family, we had been through so much. Personally, I felt like I’d been in school for 20 years. I had learned two languages and guitar, organized co-ops, written a book, and spoken at conventions. Together with my family I had sailed boats in the bathtub, grown gardens, memorized poetry and scripture, and lived abroad. We had prayed and loved and cried. I had bandaged owies, wiped tears, and danced in the living room. We had hiked in the mountains and surfed in the ocean. We had raised animals and built a house. We had served and shared together.
And for all I’d learned and experienced, I had no new degrees or letters after my name. Don’t get me wrong; I had (and have) no regrets for choosing a career in homeschooling! It’s just that at this juncture, I felt…odd. My emotions swayed back and forth from overflowing gratitude to the questions of what next and how? I wondered if anyone would understand, let alone respect or admire, the job I had spent 20 years at. I questioned what the outside world thought of homeschooling and homeschoolers. I wondered if anyone would recognize my skill sets…did I have skill sets? I tried to write a resume. That ended with tears as I realized there was very little I could put on it. No paid employment. No letters of recommendation. (Maybe my kids would write one for me.) It all sounds a bit silly as I write this, but at the time I was hurting.
I can’t say that I came away from that season knowing my life’s direction, but I came home with the assurance that I’d done what I’d been called to do, and that the Lord would, as always, usher me into the next season of life. I realized, too, that my adult kids were out there serving and loving and are in some ways an extension of me and that the last one at home needs me every bit as much now as ever.
Today, I’m a teacher liaison for the private school I mentioned earlier. I still think about getting my masters or doctorate in child development or neuroscience. For now, I’m using all that the good Lord has seen fit to grow in me to help others in education. And just to be clear: once a homeschooler, always a homeschooler! My husband and I continue to edit papers and discuss everything from economics to literature with our college kids, not to mention tutor our very loved teenager who is giving me a little more time to be a mom.