Congratulations! How many of us have uttered that word this spring as we shook the hand of some well-deserving young person? High school graduation is ubiquitous. It happens all across the country; in small towns as well as in high schools as large as many small towns. In public, private, and home schools. For students, it’s a time to pause and bask in the attention before they turn their eyes toward the next phase of their life. For parents, it’s a rite of passage; a moment to be proud. It’s special when it’s your child but it’s also common. It happens all the time.

Underneath the celebration (the robes, hats, cakes, speeches, and diplomas), lurking in the heart of every homeschool mom & dad is the knowledge that high school graduation is a BIG DEAL. While all the congratulatory attention is on the student, mom knows that the world has tilted – just a bit. Like her public or private school counterpart, she is proud of her student and excited for his/her future; maybe just a bit nervous for what life will be like without that particular student in high school. But there’s more – oh, so much more.

Sometime in the past – maybe a long, long time ago – as she started down a path not so commonly taken, a homeschooling mom visualizes what success will look like. While there might be any number of shorter-term goals, most know that high school graduation is some sort of culmination. It’s the point at which the education “torch” will pass from being her responsibility. There are times when the goal might seem matter-of-factly attainable (it’s just what you do) but there are many, many other times when it seems much more elusive. Times of late-night soul-searching. Times of bewildered decision-making. Times of gut-wrenching insecurity. Times of debilitating uncertainty. Times of unbelievable frustration. How many times has a mom forced herself to remember the reasons why she decided to homeschool in the first place? Going back over those reasons one by one can become a motivation-seeking litany. How many times has she called out to God? For strength, for guidance, for hope.

Alongside those sobering memories, though, is a flood of joyful moments. “Ah-ha!” moments of educational breakthrough. The euphoria of realizing that YOU have taught your child to read. Those times of nature discovery – observing the path of a butterfly or learning the parts of a flower. The sense of satisfaction upon completion of a project. Working side by side through a difficult course. Sharing well-loved books (falling asleep while reading said well-loved book). Singing a silly song that reinforces grammar concepts. Recognizing that homeschooling is allowing your family to be together as you care for an elderly family member. These are just a few of the hundreds of anecdotal stories that become embedded in your homeschooling family story.

So, parents, it’s OK if you get a bit (maybe a lot) teary as you hand a diploma to your child. Those of us who have “been there and done that” know that alongside the pride you feel, there are a thousand other memories coupled with a tinge of sadness as you recognize that this day-by-day, practically 24/7 job you embarked on so many years ago is coming to a fork in the road. The dynamics will forever change. Yet, the relationship that you’ve forged with your child will continue. Mourn just a little. But, mostly CELEBRATE! And pat yourself on the back for a JOB WELL DONE!