Leaving The Cloister

After 14 years of teaching our children at home, I’m done….I think. After all of the hours I have spent counseling other parents on how to fix their homeschool problems, I know enough to know that there isn’t one here. I’m not hanging up my hat because I’ve finally found that one child I can’t teach, or because of burnout or fatigue. I just no longer feel called to do this any more. Which is a weird thing to say when you literally wrote the book on home education.

My husband and I have been discussing this possibility for the past few months. Over the years, I have steadfastly maintained that we would continue homeschooling until it stopped working for us. I was wrong. It’s still working, and I’m closing up shop anyway.

It was almost one year ago exactly, in the middle of recording an episode of The Visitation Project , that Bonnie quoted Kendra Tierney (I think) to me, saying “some families are called to the mission field, and others to the cloister.” I can still remember the devastating impact of that statement, and how it took all my strength to not break down on air. The distance from the world which had been such a blessing for so many years, became, in that instant, a crushing weight.

I have been praying for guidance and clarity, and it came last Tuesday. I was sitting in the cafeteria at our local co-op while my children were in their science classes, and I looked around and just knew “I don’t belong here any more.” Just like that, my life pivoted and was changed.

I don’t feel sad or regretful about leaving this life that I have loved. I feel instead a calm assurance that this is the right decision for our family. I once wrote that we had never said that we were going to homeschool forever, but that we would take the decision to continue child-by-child and year-by-year, and we have. For a very long time, this was the best educational choice for our family. After this year, we will do something else. We’re still not sure what that will be.

I’ve  had some assessments done on the kids, and see the weak areas that will need to be strengthened before September comes. One needs to have better handwriting, and another to memorize those darn multiplication tables. The others are good where they are, and will do fine in someone else’s classroom next year.

Honestly? I’m most excited at the idea that next year I get to be “just” their mom. As the eldest children have demanded more and more of my time academically, I’ve had less to spend just enjoying the little-ness of my youngest children. That’s what I’m looking forward to the most, I think – I’ll get to spend the last days of my youngest’s baby years soaking up the time alone with her, time she doesn’t always get now.

And just like that, I’m walking out of the cloister which has been my home for the past 14 years. I’ve loved most of my time here. I’ve treasured every extra moment I have gotten to spend with my children because of their spending all of their days with me. I haven’t hit a brick wall, burned out, or any of the reasons that general homeschool wisdom gives for why people quit.  It simply is time for us to stop. God has unlocked the gate of the cloister for us, and we are all preparing to walk through it.

 

For this year, at least.

 

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