This week, for the first time since 1993, I am home alone without my children.
For the first time in two decades, I have not spent the entire summer scouring homeschool catalogs. I have neither read nor reread a single homeschool “how-to” book. My dog-eared copy of the treatise on classical education, The Core, sits, for once, ignored on my bookshelf while I have, instead, busied myself buying backpacks and these things called “Pack-Its,” which are apparently lunch pails with built-in freezers.
Having all of my children out of the house and in school for the first time is paradigm-crushing when you have spent eight hours a day times 20 years doing little but educating them. Don’t get me wrong. Homeschooling is good and wonderful, and I would absolutely do it all over again, but now that it is over, I am realizing that, for me, a large part of its allure was that it allowed me nearly complete control over my children.
Homeschooling meant I could dictate, for the most part, their choice of friends, the activities they participated in, the foods they ate, the books they read, and what did or did not go into their minds. I thought if I worked hard enough, was vigilant enough, my babies would avoid the horrors of public school I had to endure, and pain in general. They would never walk the halls with 1,800 other kids and not know a soul. A rude boy wouldn’t accost them during P.E. They would be free to develop without being mocked for wearing glasses. Yes, I was doing it all because I was riddled in fear, but hey, what mother worth her clout isn’t?
As I wrote about in my last column, we sent our oldest boy off to college last weekend. After years of monitoring well, everything, I am completely out of control. And I was doing OK until he texts me the first Friday of his first week to say he has both strep and mono.
So, here I sit—after dosing him with garlic and antibiotics and a plethora of homeopathic remedies—thinking this: I’ve spent a lot of years thinking I, like Hannah, was trusting God with my kids. But I haven’t. Not really. I have trusted myself and my Super Mama powers to save them from pain, fear, loneliness, sadness, embarrassment, etc.
But in the end, you drop them on a sidewalk, give them a quick embarrassed hug, and walk away. Life must—eventually—be faced. Even for homeschoolers like my kids. They must have pain I cannot alleviate, friends I cannot choose, burdens I cannot bear. This is their journey, not mine. God is their Savior, not me.