Posted on May 11, 2018 by Maureen O'Brien
Homeschooling is a BIG investment of our time, energy, and finances. Yes, there are sacrifices, but like any investment, it is best to focus on the long term results instead of the day to day highs and lows.
Some seasons of homeschooling are filled with the excitement of new projects, new curriculum, maybe a mega field trip and other days are toiled with math problems that need reworking, vocabulary exercises, spelling quizzes, and writing cogent papers.
No matter what kind of day you are having or where you are in your homeschooling journey, we have all fallen to our knees in gratitude for the freedom and privilege of educating our children at home.
I became invested in my homeschooling journey before the age of digital media, online classes or social media. We met as a group in church halls with a monthly speaker and had a monthly Mom’s Night Out.
As we became more involved and intentional about our lifelong learning at home, Yahoo Groups were birthed. I started a local homeschool Yahoo group which grew to 200 families within the first six months. This was more convenient than finding childcare for evenings out and we could conveniently communicate at 10pm at night or 5am in the morning.
As an outgrowth of that community, I invited families to start a homeschool co-op, which was 15-18 families, meeting once a week with a general theme for each school year. We didn’t want a large co-op, thus I shared with others how we started our small co-op and supported them as they developed their own small learning communities.
I had the privilege of speaking about this concept at the St. Louis Catholic Homeschool Convention and contributed a chapter on the same topic to The Catholic Homeschool Companion by Maureen Wittmann and Rachel Mackson.
I needed that sense of community and enjoyed homeschool peer support which was not as readily available then as it is now with social media platforms. Homeschooling was my vocation and I was dedicated to success for my own kids as well as other families and their kids.
And then POOF! Our success as homeschool parents resulted in kids leaving home for college!
And that’s a very different season of support, coaching, cheerleading and adjustment for both the kids and parents. We shed tears of both loss and happiness as they became independent and still remained on our knees in prayer over our kids’ potential choices once fledged from our homes.
I was so invested in my homeschooling identity and “career” that I hadn’t really planned on the sadness and the hole left in my heart when they all grew up and left me! Don’t get me wrong, I am a proud mom to four awesome, loving young adults, who are happy and productive citizens, contributing within their own communities across the country. However, I was a bit lost in what my next “project” might be, as I lost my homeschool mom self-identity.
Since homeschool graduation, I worked as a geriatric nurse for a few years and have since completed several Catholic mission trips to Guatemala and currently volunteer at our local New Life Pregnancy Center. Through homeschooling I learned that I love seeing growth in a person and family; moreover, make a difference in their lives. I learned I was pretty good at managing teams of people and helping them meet THEIR goals too. It was time to re-invent my purpose.
Over the last 18 months, I have happily started showing moms the steps to creating a healing home. Even as a nurse, I had not been aware of toxic chemicals in our everyday products affecting cognition, hormone balance, and productivity. I am now educating again and experiencing a difference in people’s day to day lives.
Many have partnered with me as we lock arms and seek a higher level of wellness in our homes and the homes of others. We educate ourselves and others. I have a new purpose-driven career. So, I’m here to share my take-aways and help prepare you for the inevitable end of your homeschool vocation.
Notes from this retired homeschool mom: They DO eventually grow up and pursue their own God-given gifts and talents! Enjoy the highs and lows of your journey, as you invest in your beloved family and fulfilling homeschool lifestyle. Be aware of the grieving stage that’s part of the fledging process. You have a homeschooling-mom-life now, but another season awaits you. Find your passion. What will your future purpose-driven life look like? Write it down. Create a vision. Be prepared.
Maureen O'Brien is a wife, mom to 4 adult children, and a wellness advocate. She holds a BSN from Niagara University and an MPA from SUNY. Once a Director of Education and Clinical Specialties in NYS, she traded her vocation to homeschool mom after her husband moved them from New York to Central Illinois.
In another new season of life, when all her kids left for college, she found herself searching for a new purpose. She now educates families on health and wellness and getting back to basics, using God's gifts to man. the life-blood of plants. Keep up with Maureen on her Oily Life in Abundance website.
"On the banks, on both sides of the river, there will grow all kinds of trees.....their fruit will be for food, and their leaves for medicine." Ezekiel 47:12
"And the leaves on the tree will be for the healing of the nations." Revelation 22:2
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