When James and I brought our first little bundle of joy home from the hospital in 1992, I remember feeling like a jumbled ball of widely varying and often conflicting emotions that ranged from sheer happiness and inexpressible love—for both my husband and our new daughter—to being overwhelmed and utterly exhausted.
Two babies in two years
Olivia was simultaneously the most adorable baby girl in the universe and the most draining creature I had ever encountered. She needed to be held constantly, walked and rocked and sung to, and she was not particularly fond of going to sleep either. I remember those early days of parenthood wondering in a panic if I would ever again get a good night’s sleep or shower before 5:00 PM.
Twenty months later, our second gift from God came into the world. Alex was a gentle soul, an observer, and the perfect balance to her gregarious, energetic big sister. In spite of the exhaustion and the self-sacrifice, motherhood became the most amazing gift in my life, and I have felt fulfilled and abundantly blessed in raising these two beautiful daughters.
The decision to homeschool
By the time our girls were about one and three years old, we had decided that homeschooling was the right choice for our family. Oh how I adored teaching my little girls over the following seventeen years! And yet—though there were many great moments of learning and discovery shared together—it was A LOT of hard work.
There were days—especially when my husband was traveling for his job week after week—that I was desperately exhausted. I wondered how I’d make it through the day just getting our school basics done, let alone keeping the house in order, preparing meals, doing laundry, running errands, serving at church, spending time with family, paying the bills, going on field trips, having play dates with friends, going to the library, doing arts and crafts and science experiments, and trying to find a quiet moment for myself here and there, too.
The homeschool days were long
It goes without saying that this journey of homeschooling that we’d chosen—nurturing and discipling our precious children—was no small undertaking.
There were endless messes in our home created by busy little adventurers. Sticky floors, fingerprints galore, spills on the carpet, endless piles of dishes and laundry to wash, school books and toys scattered about, and craft supplies to put away.
It wasn’t quite the disaster I had imagined, but I certainly did let the messes of everyday life irritate me and rob me of my peace at times. I vividly remember sitting on the floor one evening sorting through the girls’ toys in the playroom, which I had scooped into a giant pile, trying to get things back in order. I wish I could say I was a joyful mother in that moment, and many other moments like it, but sadly I wasn’t.
If there’s one thing I could go back and do over from those early years of parenting it would be to spend more time simply enjoying my children—messes and all—and not sweat the other stuff quite so much.
As the girls got older, I taught them to help keep order in our home, and I also learned that a few messes here and there were totally worth the experiences we had baking cookies, finger painting, and making collages or salt dough maps.
The homeschool days were indeed long, but I wouldn’t have missed those years with our girls for anything. I enjoyed all of those special “firsts” such as first smile, first tooth, first steps, and first full sentences. And, by homeschooling, I also got to share in countless “aha” moments with them. Like when they struggled to learn a concept in math week after week and then they finally got it. What a joyous victory to share with them!
When they struggled with character issues like selfishness or laziness or rudeness, together we worked through those issues and I had a front row seat as I watched the marvelous transformation of their hearts toward selflessness, hard work, and kindness.
The years went by fast
Our daughters grew into wonderful young women. They graduated from high school at home in 2010 and 2011 and entered adulthood with grace and so many possibilities for the future. Their feet planted on the path to fulfilling the plans and purposes the Lord has for each of them.
Alex’s graduation was a pivotal moment in this mama’s heart. I had to come to terms with the fact that I had no more children to raise. My baby girls were both now grown. It’s in that moment where you look back and wonder, “Where did all of those years go? They flew by in the blink of an eye!”
We all know that when you’re in the trenches with younger children, there are days you seriously wish you could actually blink your eyes and fast-forward through the long, challenging, labor-intensive, messy, emotional, exhausting days of child rearing.
And yet, when your youngest reaches adulthood and you move into this new season of life, there is a strong draw to look back with longing for days-gone-by. I know I sure have! Oh what I wouldn’t give to snuggle my little girls while reading to them on the couch one more time!
Satisfaction in a job well done
I came to realize that we never were raising children. Parenting is about raising future adults. They were on loan from the Lord, a gift for us to steward well. And so, when I reached the stage of having raised my children to adulthood, instead of being sad over what I no longer have, I can rejoice over those sweet years and the close relationships that were developed.
James and I made a choice to invest in training up our children in the way they should go. It was a sacrifice and a substantial investment of our time, energy, and resources. Having raised our daughters and launched them into adulthood, I see the fruit of our labor and I feel blessed—a deep satisfaction that I have spent my time wisely in raising and homeschooling our daughters.
Our family has grown to include a wonderful son-in-law and two adorable grandchildren so far. It’s been exciting to see our kids as young adults, using the gifts, abilities, and passions God placed in each of them. We raised two delightful, hard-working, talented young women whose lives have reflected the love of a faithful God. (Sadly, we experienced the loss of our youngest daughter Alex in 2017.) I truly couldn’t ask for anything more except more time this side of Heaven.
Since Alex’s death, I am even more grateful for the time we had together during their growing up years. Homeschooling gave us the gift of time and so many sweet experiences and memories to hang onto.
Don’t grow weary
So hang in there, moms and dads! Wherever you are in the parenting and homeschool journey, I want to encourage you and remind you that it is worth every ounce of energy and sacrifice you pour into your kids.
The Lord promises that we will reap a harvest if we do not grow weary in doing well. While the days may crawl by at a snail’s pace at times, the years really do go by fast. Soak it all up and enjoy every moment with these precious gifts from the Lord.
Children are a gift from God; they are his reward.
These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down, and when you get up.
I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth.