Empty Nest Homeschooling Parenting & Grandparenting

When You Reach the End of the Journey

There are many emotions surrounding the end of a journey.

Satisfaction. Relief. Exhaustion. Nostalgia.

We took a once-in-a-lifetime family trip back in 2002 and traveled the country for 6 weeks with our five kids, pulling a pop-up camper behind our conversion van and visiting national parks and other sites across the western states. There was a lot of preparation, planning, and anticipation before that trip, and incredible experiences during it, as well as a few unexpected bumps and disappointments along the way. When the we pulled back into our driveway at the end, we were travel weary yet thankful, relieved yet sad the trip was over. It was a fantastic experience, and I wish it could have lasted even longer because there was so much more to see and do. But there were other important things we had to get back to as well.

I wrote a post four years ago about the “last first day” of our homeschool, as my youngest of five began his senior year. Now he is starting his senior year of college and is on track to graduate this December!

My homeschool journey came to an end in 2017. Homeschooling my children also was a fantastic experience that contained some ups and down, and I wish it could have lasted longer. Although I have grown into this empty nest season of life, I can’t say that I like it any more than I did four years ago! However, new opportunities and ventures have come into my life and are on the horizon. I have a new grandson now, who –‘Praise Jesus!– lives 15 minutes away from me and has captured my heart. Before covid-19 disrupted everyone’s normal routines, I was volunteering two mornings a week as a preschool teacher with a refugee ministry in Raleigh. I had just started serving as a table leader for Women’s Bible Study at our church. I still am involved in my homeschool community as a mentor and advisor. I taught a Bible Journaling class for students and adults in my homeschool group, and have talked with a few people about doing more of that. I still bake cupcakes on a pretty regular basis for all kinds of celebrations – birthdays, graduations, weddings, showers, and just because.

I love the adults my children have become and I’m proud to be their mom. But I still miss the years when we were a full-house of homeschoolers. I miss going to my kids sporting events. I miss picking out curriculum for a new school year and searching out activities and opportunities to help each child grow and prosper. I miss all of us sitting around the dinner table, each person in their spot. I miss the family road trips. I miss all of us filling a row at church on Sunday morning. Homeschooling and raising my family was a great adventure!

It has been a process, but I think I have embraced the idea of retirement and have gotten used to a new rhythm of life that is less scheduled and less busy. I am more than okay with being a Grammie! I am not ready for AARP however.

This the post from four years ago. For all you moms who are experiencing this now, or for those who feel it fast approaching. I have to admit it has been an emotional transition for me, rough at times. But there is life after homeschooling, and it is good.

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Reality is setting in, as we embark on my youngest child’s senior year of high school. As much as I said I wouldn’t do this, I am marking the “lasts”. Monday was the last first day of school for our homeschool, Cornerstone Academy. My husband was the one who said it to my face, as I frantically stuck my fingers in my ears, chanting “La la la la la! I can’t hear you!”

“I don’t want to make you sad, but do you realize that this is our last “first day of school” ever?”

Oh honey. Do I realize? I’ve been doing nothing but realizing… I’ve been shoving those realizations down and trying to stuff them back into the box of denial for at least a year. I’ve been gazing at my 6’2″ baby and blinking back tears. I’ve been swallowing around a bowling ball lodged in my throat while sitting in an empty house all summer while he and his sister have worked overnight summer camp, because I know this will be my new normal all too soon. I have helped my second youngest move into her first post-college apartment, smiling as my insides crumble, because her bed and wall decorations and clothes and stuff are gone from her bedroom now. The girls’ room isn’t the girls’ room any more – although it will forever be the girls’ room. I have nearly broken down in the grocery store, realizing that a gallon of milk is too much to buy, and reaching for the 1/2 gallon instead. I feel like a crazy person.
Oh honey. I realize.

There is a lot of “letting go” happening around here. I can see that this is a process and am grateful that the Lord has given me friends and a homeschool community to walk through this with. Several of my friends and I have formed an “Empty Nest Survival Group” to give us a place to commiserate and support one another. My husband is being supportive – he really is – but I can tell he is a bit bewildered by the intensity of my emotions. He doesn’t quite know what to do when I say, “I am NOT okay right now!” My friends with grown kids know that I need chocolate and a glass bottle of wine and a good cry.

I know God will be revealing the next thing for me, as this year goes on. I know that launching our arrows is what we have been working toward, and we have done our best. I know that God is faithful and still has work for me to do. But I can’t help the tears. I will still be marking the “lasts” and grieving a season of motherhood that is ending, while looking forward to new good things ahead.”

Ecclesiastes 3:1 For everything there is a season, a time for every activity under heaven.

Isaiah 43:19 See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.

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