I know the title is awkward, but a friend who becomes dearer every day, told me that her family has entered into the “season of endings. . . and beginnings,” because their only child will be graduating this year and is tying up the loose ends of his high school life while at the same time planning for the next step.  I have been through that three times with the older children, and it didn’t get easier as time went on.  I have always loved having our children at home, so their leaving gave me a major case of the bends. 

Now, number four child is in the “season of endings. . . and beginnings,” and it is harder yet.  He relinquished leadership of his 4-H club this year, where he had been involved for years and served as president for two terms.   He no longer sings in the choir in which he sang since he was a boy.  He will be doing his last mission with the Legion of Christ during Holy Week, and the list goes on.

What I didn’t count on was weeping over lesson plans.  Yes, this weekend I wrote the last lesson plans of my life for Mike’s final high school quarter.  As I did so, I couldn’t hold back the tears.  It is not that lesson-plan writing is my favorite activity.  Homeschooling is not without its challenges and we have had our share.  I have yelled (and regretted it), anguished over whether or not I was doing the right thing, had to apologize more times than I can count, had to follow-up on missing assignments which often resulted in lost privileges, and had to take abuse from a Naval Academy recruiter who believes homeschoolers pad grades to make their kids look good.  Ask our kids–every grade they got they earned, whether they were A’s or F’s . . . but that is another story.

Mike’s “season of endings . . . and beginnings” is also mine.  For the last 15 years my life has followed the rhythm of running a homeschool.  It has been a routine of writing lesson plans, searching out curriculum, teaching them to drive, praying, writing three books, grading papers, going to Mass, laughing, running kids to various types of lessons, praying, correcting papers, helping fill out college applications, praying, arranging for peer time with friends, cajoling, correcting, praying, and watching them grow up and leave the nest.  The cycle is coming to end with the last child.  Am I handling it gracefully?  Probably not.  My tears are flowing as I contemplate the house without our “midlife” child.  I know God isn’t through with me yet, but I am not sure where he is leading.  Mike wants to go into the service and he has an Air Force Academy appointment as well as an AFROTC scholarship.  So he just has to decide which one he will accept.  I don’t have a choice of accepting or not.  I must, and I must thank God for the endings.  The endings mean that there were beginnings, and I would not trade one of those beginnings for a break from the bittersweet sadness/happiness that I am experiencing now.