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

Monday, May 17, 2010

The Joy And Grief of Homeschool Graduation

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 oldest graduate.

Our precious daughter LoriAnn had her graduation yesterday. It was a very emotional time for us. This was our first graduate. When we started this back in first grade, we said we’d just do it one year at a time and see how it went. LoriAnn was our “guinea pig” in a sense (don’t tell her I said that!). Since then, we’ve started homeschooling our other three children as well. But she was the first. And she is our first graduate.

To say we’re proud of her doesn’t begin to describe it. God has made her into an extraordinary young woman, for which Mom and I can only take partial credit. This is truly a case of the student outdoing the teacher. During the graduation service she played her flute, read some of her poetry (some of which she has had published) and then gave a short address speaking of her homeschool experience, her faith and her vision for her future. Talk about a tear jerker.

A dear pastor friend brought a brief “charge” in which he not only commended LoriAnn for her accomplishments, but also thanked us parent types for our commitment and accomplishment as well. We all felt like standing up and saying “By God’s grace, we did it!” I was fine with all of this until Mom came up to give the diploma and started crying. I then had to cry all the way through the prayer of dedication we offered on behalf of our precious girl.

We are proud. We are joyful. We are also grief stricken over this precious gift preparing to leave us. Next Sunday we’ll deliver her to the college campus where she will work this summer and begin classes this fall. 18 years goes by in a hurry, doesn’t it? I love all my children. And I still have three to continue investing the time and energy in. But there is a great sense of loss right now. Again, I’m not saying other parents miss their children less because they weren’t homeschooled. It’s just very different.

She has been more than a daughter. She’s been a friend, someone to read and discuss books with, to have theological discussions with. She has been my “go to guy” when I needed something done quickly, something made for church, some project I was running behind on. She’s covered VBS classes for us as well as been our built-in-babysitter.

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.

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 her writing accomplishments and music accomplishments and artistic accomplishments and so on; we are most pleased and proud of her faith and maturity. Our goal has simply been to see her become a fully devoted follower of Christ and a godly woman 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, LoriAnn. We are indeed proud of you. And we still love you, even if you have chosen to abandon us (just kidding…about the abandoning part, not the loving part…oh, never mind). It’s time to share this blessing with the world. May God continue to guide your steps each and every day as you seek to exalt Him in all you do.


Angie Reiner Downing said...

Congratulations, LoriAnn! It sounds like you are an amazing blessing to your parents, just like they are an amazing blessing to you! You're so lucky to have one another as you begin the next chapter of your life! The best of luck to you on all of your future adventures!

Frances Clements said...

That was a great post. Congratulations to all of you!

Galadriel said...

I was homeschooled up through high school and am graduating this Friday--HURRAY! I really enjoyed reading your blog post.
LoriAnn is blessed to have you as her father.

Scott said...

Thanks for the well wishes. Continue to pray for LoriAnn (and her parents!) as she begins her summer work program at college. Big changes for all of us.

Wayne Sedlak said...

Ah LoriAnn, Blessings to you and your family. We have just gone through our 3rd child graduating from homeschool, and the we were so thankful for the ceremony. All those years of homeschooling culminated with such a blessed event. Our Leah sounds a lot like you, a joy to teach and a bitter sweet blessing to see her graduate.