A reminder to remember

memories-407021_1280As we near the end of another academic year and my middle son’s impending graduation, I’m struck by the speed at which time has passed. It seems we started this family-learning journey just yesterday, yet it has been almost 10 years since we began. After moving our family 3 times, a plethora of career changes and many curricula switches, much of our homeschool past has faded into the recesses of my memory. But I haven’t forgotten everything.

I still remember how scary the word ‘homeschool’ once was.

I still remember the looks my teaching colleagues gave me when I said we were taking our kids out of public school. 

I still remember not knowing what to do first. Or second. Or at all. 

I still remember my timid entrance into the first co-op, surrounded by well-meaning but slightly confused moms trying to figure out what I was doing there without my wife. 

I still remember the weeks that I was sure the kids were learning absolutely nothing. 

I still remember my wife and I debating if we had made a mistake. 

However, I also remember how our children found their stride. 

I remember how they grew in confidence and in their ability to overcome challenges. 

I remember lots of laughter. Lots of time to enjoy our children. Lots of unexpected joy. 

And I can’t forget to remember, now that we’re nearing the end. Because that memory is what makes the next chapter of our family-learning so exciting.

I can’t wait to see what I’ll have to remember to remember next.

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18

Nothing like another rite of passage to get me writing again.

This day should be a joyous day. My first born, the son that I once watched from far, and then watched myself change and grow in order to be the father he needed, then fought to be able to give him the life I felt he deserves, turns eighteen today. And I am grateful. But as with most mountain top experiences, it brings to mind all the valleys it took for him to get here.

My mind travels back to the day he was born. That was not a joyous day either. I, like he is now, was a senior in high school. The family situation was a mess. I was not at the hospital.  The relationship between his mother and I had vanished, strained by family pressures and the realization that we had nothing in common but the child. I  received the call two hours later that he was born. I cried into the phone.

This is the part where I’m sure you see the absentee father story coming. And I’m sure that would be a fair assumption. The problem with that is, it always assumes the father is willingly absent. Suffice it to say that my son’s life and my life were never separated by the miles for long. His struggles became mine. His issues became my daily prayer. His need for a place to be nurtured became my focus. And as he grew, I had to grow. This process was only just beginning.

Fast forward through the battles, the courts, the years of trial and error parenting, the blended family, the tears, laughter, the great accomplishments. They all seem to be a blur now, punctuated by moments of extreme pride, great loss, and inexpressible emotion. All I can see is a child just about done with childhood. I know graduation is usually the moment that we see the end of our parental journey, but when all you can see is the struggle and the effort wrapped up in the young man that mirrors who you used to be, it doesn’t take a cap and gown to see a culmination of your life’s work.  I found myself obsessing over what I could give to mark the occasion. And of course, nothing material is available, affordable, or appropriate. My journey has not brought me to a place where I could bequeath wealth on him. I can’t say the right pithy words that would sum up this moment. So what did I do?

The same thing I did on that first day of his life. I prayed. A pitiful, sputtering, not-sure-how-to-put-it, just-tell-me-how-to-deal-Lord prayer.

Then it hits me. “What do you think got him through from that day to today?”

Not my best thinking or parenting.

Not my choices. That almost ruined him.

Not my example of manhood. That was flawed from the get go.

No. The same Father that had grace for me had grace for him.

Even more amazingly, He had the guts to use me to extend it to him.

Worthy? No. Grateful? yes.

So I hugged that tall, lanky teen this morning as he left for school and asked him did he feel any different. “No,” he said with his characteristic aw-shucks grin. “Just another day.”

And that is the miracle.