For it is by grace you have been saved...

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

The Joy And Grief of Homeschool Graduation Revisted

This is a revisiting of a post from 3 years ago when our oldest daughter graduated.  Some is copied unashamedly word-for-word from that post regarding the pros and cons of homeschooling and the positives and negatives of graduation and our goals as parents, etc.  The rest has been changed to reflect on our second graduation experience…

Let me try to say this without offending anyone: Public school parents have no idea what we’re going through right now. I’m not saying that parents who send their children to government run schools don’t love their children as much as we do; or that they are more sad or less proud of their graduates than we are; or anything like that. But, it is very, very different.

Until you’ve spent 18 years with that child in your home every day (well, nearly every day. Except for orchestra days and field trips and library runs and horse training days and homeschool co-op days and; you get the idea); until you’ve bought those text books with your own money for 12 years; spent those 12 years sweating day by day along with that child through all of those subjects and assignments, worried more about your teaching than their learning at times; until you’ve experienced the sacrifices in time and money and energy to provide those 12 years of education while at the same time building a bond together as parent and child, teacher and student, discipler and disciple, etc. Until you’ve done these things you can’t possibly understand the joy and grief of watching your child graduate.

Our amazing son Nathanael had his graduation last Saturday. It was a very emotional time for us. This was our second graduate, and our first completely homeschooled child.  (His big sister went to kindergarten in government school).  Though we’ve been through it before, in a sense, it doesn’t change the raging emotions involved in this whole process.

To say we’re proud of him doesn’t begin to describe it. God has grown him into a remarkable young man, and like I said with his sister before him, Mom and I can only take partial credit for that. God is truly gracious to us, doing things in his life in spite of the many mistakes we’ve made over the years.

During the service, Nathanael played a saxophone solo and was going to sing as well, but allergies got the better of him and he was unable.  He did give us a slide presentation of some of his amazing photography, though, and then gave a short speech (which he hated to have to do!), telling us about his experiences and how thankful he is to God and to his family for this part of the journey. Mom cried.  Dad almost did.

His Uncle Dan, who also happens to be his band director, brought a brief message based on one of Nathanael’s favorite verses from Isaiah 40:31  “but they who wait for the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.”  He used the eagle, Nathanael’s favorite animal, as a theme to talk about faithfully walking with and serving God.  It was truly moving.  And just like with LoriAnn a couple years ago, I was fine with everything until Mom came up to give the diploma and started crying. I then, again, had to cry all the way through the prayer of dedication we offered on behalf of our precious son.

We are proud. We are joyful. We are also saddened by this rite of passage in which our son is now an “adult.”  He plans to take a year off before college, which means he’ll still be around for awhile.  And for that I’m truly grateful.  He’s more than just a son to me.  He’s a friend, a hard worker who has been an invaluable help to me.  He’s the guy I hunt and fish with, go to games with, and other “guy” stuff. He’s also my “number one son,” the one who I’ve tried to teach about being a godly man, and though I’ve often failed by example, I’m thrilled to see that God has overcome that.   I’m going to miss him terrible when he’s “gone.” 

Quite frankly, I feel for parents who didn’t get to spend this kind of time with their children; missing out on at least 8 hours a day with them; a minimum of 40 hours a week in which you didn’t get to experience life and growth with them. Of course, I’m not so sure I’d miss the added grief this causes when it’s all over. As I said before, I’m not saying other parents miss their children less because they weren’t homeschooled. It’s just very different.  The years of investing in him both spiritually and educationally have been tiring, but worth every minute.

In the end, our goal has not been to churn out a Nobel Prize winning scientist or a Pulitzer Prize winning writer. Though we are proud of his accomplishments in music and photography and baseball and so on; we are most pleased and proud of his faith and maturity. Our goal has simply been to see him become a fully devoted follower of Christ and a godly man in this sinful world. God has been gracious in granting that goal.

The joy and the grief. Quite a mixture of feelings. I believe that while all parents feel those, they are intensified for homeschool parents (you can argue with me later, this is my “moment”!). But I wouldn’t change it for anything. It’s been a long, often difficult road; but by the grace of God it has all been worth it.

So congratulations, Nathanael. We are indeed proud of you. And we still love you, even if you have chosen to stay around and eat your mom’s cooking for another year instead of heading off to college like your sister!  No matter what you decide to do, may God continue to guide your steps each and every day as you seek to exalt Him in all you do.

1 comment:

Persis said...

Great post and congratulations to Nathanael!

My daughter just finished her senior year of homeschooling. I wouldn't have traded that time with her for the world.