by Karen D. Koch

Once upon a time when I had three littles and was busy potty training, teaching shoe tying and pencil-holding and that sort of thing, a homeschool friend with older kids told me, “The days are long, but the years are short.” I was struck by that because the days were exhaustingly long, and the kids did seem to be growing quickly, but. . .I thought I had plenty of time. I mean, good grief, from 0-18 years old times now-four kids means we’ll have kids at home for at least 30 years! I was pretty sure we could fit everything in with that kind of timeframe.

A Decade+ Later
A very quick decade or so later, I suddenly find myself with one on the brink of college graduation (at age 19!), and another graduating from high school right now and leaving for college in August four days after his 18th birthday. My 13-year-old daughter is taller than me, and even the “baby” just turned eight!

Like most homeschooling parents, I’m hard on myself. I’ve missed too many opportunities. There are field trips we should have done, places we should have explored, subjects we should have done better, more lab science, more math, more practical life lessons. Even though we’ve read thousands of books (I’m a Sonlight Curriculum aficionado), there are so many more I’d like to read aloud to them. But now it’s time for the older ones to move on, to enter the big world and find their way.

Graduation Blues
So at my son’s homeschool high school graduation two weeks ago, I was overwhelmed with joy/melancholy. Our now 6’3″ once-mischievous-toddler was sitting on the stage in a cap and gown, his slide show of life literally passing before my eyes as I cried (even though I chose all the photos in advance). I opened my parent remarks with these words by Mark Twain: “My mother had a great deal of trouble with me, but I think she enjoyed it,” and my son and I shared a tender, wry smile at each other. After that it was just raw emotion for me. I felt as if I were graduating too. And for homeschool moms, that’s more than a bit true.

Like myriads of parents before me, I will survive his leaving, although I can’t bear the thought of it right now. I have less than three months with him at home. But here’s the thing. I wouldn’t hold him back or hold him here, because his life is out there now. He has some exciting prospects ahead, and we’re cheering for him. And thanks to homeschool, I haven’t missed one minute. That’s the best part.

Advice to Myself
And the other best part is that I still have kids/students at home for 10 more years! In this case, I have the privilege of being the “older mom” telling myself that I need to use my time wisely, because the days are short. So on the one hand, I’m “weepy mom,” but on the other, I am exceedingly grateful to God that there’s still time with the younger two in our family.

So, younger parents, remember on the long, exhausting days of diapers, life-training, schooling and a million other things that you do as a parent that the years are, indeed short.

Enjoy your children.
Love them.
Read to them.
Kiss them good night.
Hug them.
Challenge them.
Give them grace (Read my college friend, Mike DiMarco’s book, House of Grace).
Remind them that He loves them and will guide them.

Karen D. Koch has been homeschooling on mostly coffee-power for 15 years. She is particularly tired but grateful at the end of this 2015-16 school year.  She encourages you to attend a CHEA Convention, especially if you haven’t before. She homeschooled for eight years before attending her first Convention. After that she has rarely missed because of the encouragement, equipping, and fellowship she receives. She knows first-hand that the people at CHEA genuinely wish to serve and equip homeschoolers. She serves as CHEA’s Communications Assistant. She and Monte have been married for nearly 23 years.

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