My youngest child was born right after I turned 41. I was ecstatic but a little scared—“I’m going to get old when he’s growing up,” I fretted. But with three other kids (12, 10, 5 then) to homeschool, I was busy and couldn’t stop to ponder. Baby just got dragged along to all the kids’ activities. “I’ll deal with that old age thing when I get there,” I thought.
Well, I’m there, and apparently it is time to think about it.
My oldest son has his college degree, is married, and lives nearby. Child #2 graduated from college last year. Child #3 is headed off to college in another state in August. That leaves me looking at the caboose, who turned 13 this week. Back when he was about five years old, he suddenly seemed to realize that I was older than other moms with kids his age. He asked me, quite reasonably, “Mom, when I grow up, will you be dead?” I assured him that I wasn’t that old, and that I would most likely still be alive.
And Then There Was One
Fall of 2021 will be the first time since 1998 that my husband and I will have just one child living at home. Much to my son’s relief, I am still alive at 54, and this will be the first time since 2001 that I will be homeschooling just one child. This should be a piece of cake, right?
But this menopausal mom is no longer sure. So much has changed in the past 20 years. I work part-time. Covid-19 has changed the landscape for all of us in the past year. The internet has changed, the Sonlight History / Bible / Literature selections have changed. I am weary.
So here are five things I am pondering for the duration of this homeschool journey.
1. I can change everything. Or not.
Because of the cost of homeschooling curriculum, we bought and used one HBL at each level and used it again with every child, sometimes bringing in additional books Sonlight added. We did the same with Saxon math. But now with just one child left, I plan to peruse Sonlight’s newer offerings and see about swapping to some new things. The new-to-me History of Science J History / Bible / Literature might be a good fit, for example.
Now that we have done three different routes to post-homeschooling success for the older kids, we can see which of those options, or something else, best fits the youngest.
I will staunchly hold on to our HBL routine as this has been the central piece of our homeschooling, with science, language arts, math, and everything else orbiting around. But we have time to read even more now!
2. I’m paying more attention to math.
Math is not my forte, so this is an area where I feel I dropped the ball with my older kids because I just didn’t do the one-on-one with them required including algebra and higher. Because of this, they all struggled at some time or another feeling inadequate mathematically. The three older kids have all passed the required math to get their college degrees, so God is good, but I am doing better with the youngest by doing more daily checking and working out issues together.
3. We’ll try the famously undone things.
Although we have done lots of great field trips and travel over the years, we will be able to do much more with just one child in tow. I just couldn’t always afford entry for four kids and an adult or two to some activity, so we had to ration our experiences.
Child #4 will get to a lot of these undone things—more museums, concerts, travel, and experiences. He and I are forming a bucket list of everything from National Parks, more science experiments, experiences (like rock climbing lessons), and more Sonlight books that have been added in recent years.
4. I can enjoy it differently this time.
A lot of my past homeschool years are a wonderful blur of Sonlight, AWANA, church, music lessons, youth groups, 4-H, group classes, science fairs, and such for all the kids, but much of that time felt chaotic. I remember once during my morning read-aloud to the kids and I suddenly realized I had “lost” the baby, who had just learned to crawl. I panicked and almost shouted at the kids, “Where is the baby?” They wryly responded, “Mom, you’re nursing him.” Lo and behold, baby was on my lap nursing while I was reading aloud. I was an exhausted mom.
We are much less busy now, I haven’t lost a child in a long time, and Child #4 has a much less stressed-out-about-the-kids teacher. There were so many times I worried over whether my children would
- learn to read
- get through algebra
- do well on the SAT
- get into college
- grow up to be responsible adults
- and [insert typical homeschool mom worries here]
Yet it all turned out well.
These days #4 is the only child who needs much of my time, so we talk a lot about what we read, hear, see, do, and think about. We aren’t in a hurry much, and we like to go for walks or visit our local botanical gardens and nurseries. He tags along on errands and we listen to music and talk about Star Wars, or literary tropes like the tragic hero, or the number of Teslas he counts as we drive. We were working on our summer read-aloud wish list tonight, including some James Herriot and The Perilous Gard by the author of our beloved The Sherwood Ring.
5. I want to finish well.
A year ago, I was unsure of what was ahead. I wasn’t sure I could continue homeschooling, not feeling up to the task. I have asked God for guidance. While no flashing lights have appeared or any voice from heaven has boomed out, I feel firmly that it is what we are going to do. I trust God will provide the ability, the strength, and the direction.
Twenty years down. Just six to go. At this point in my life, I realize that we don’t have to homeschool. We get to homeschool.