Strange Endings

Global pandemic aside, this year ended strangely. My homeschooling career officially ended last month when my youngest passed her final exams and completed her GED. We celebrated her finishing her final exams with pink champagne and a family meal, but the atmosphere was different and the whole experience was less joyful than I had envisioned.

My youngest endured an excruciatingly lonely final homeschool year with Covid lockdowns and a lack of company and visits with her friends. Being the last child in our home, she was already missing her siblings. With lockdown, her monthly trips to stay with her friends had all stopped. She desperately wanted her freedom and to be with the community of friends, and so the day after her final exam, she packed up her entire life, and the very next day she left to go and live in a small town in the Langkloof.

My shock was that it was all so sudden. I had experienced the sadness and loss of each child as they graduated and moved away from our isolated farm, and I knew of my youngest daughter’s plans, but I didn’t expect her to leave immediately. I had hoped for a few free days together with her to enjoy life without the stress of exams and homeschooling; an afternoon eating popcorn and watching our favorite movies, for swims and relaxing at the pool and general packing, sewing and preparing for her next phase. But, no. A day later she was gone, her room left completely bare. And just like that, it was over.

I am glad for her. I am so happy for her being with her loved ones, living in community, building into her next phase of her life. I am delighted that she is finished with school. I am so relieved that my homeschooling days are over and I can ease into the new season of my life.

I am not lonely, but I really miss my daughters. Their lives filled our hearts and our home. Their music was a beautiful, eclectic montage to our daily rhythms. I loved our conversations, their lively debates, their wacky sense of humors, their chatter and laughter. I loved their ideas and opinions on clothing, make-up, hairstyles, décor and style. I loved sitting looking at their Instagram feeds, laughing at funny Facebook memes, and watching YouTube videos with them. I loved times together with my daughter; drinking a mug of steaming tea on her bed as the afternoon sun faded into sunset, and then making meals and cooking up a storm together and enjoying delicious family meals at night. My life felt rich and full.

I knew this moment was coming and I had prepared for my “empty nest”, but what I didn’t prepare for was my daughter’s desperate need to get away. I didn’t reckon on her being angry with us, with having to endure a year of intense loneliness. I didn’t consider that she resented her homeschooling and my insistence that she finish. And we did insist. We gave her no options. And her resentment and withdrawal tainted our farewell.

I really understand her feelings, but I am not sorry that we insisted she finish and pass her course. I knew absolutely that her high school graduate certificate was essential in my job as her homeschool teacher and her mom. This was a non-negotiable decision we all agreed on because my stepsons did not complete their Matric years ago, and now, years later, they both regret it as they face roadblocks in their jobs and careers.

So, with all these strange feelings and thoughts whirling through my head, I scrubbed my daughter’s echoing bedroom walls and deep cleaned her empty cupboards. I smiled when I discovered little pencil messages scribbled on the walls, sighed sadly when I found a tiny ballerina charm lost in a dusty cupboard corner and I wept as I sat on her naked bed smelling her perfume from the very last spurt of an abandoned empty perfume bottle, and I miss her deeply.

And I wonder if Covid hadn’t totally derailed this year, if we could have ended this better …

Right now I am scraping and painting out her bedroom and converting it into an adult guestroom. I feel like Kevin Costner in the iconic movie Field of Dreams hearing, “Built it and he will come …” that as I transform my daughter’s bedroom into a glorious guestroom, she will come visit again … when Covid no longer turns our lives into this strange, disconnected world.

And you may be wondering, “What about Practical Pages?” As a now-newly-retired homeschool teacher, I feel very strongly to continue to write and post in my blog and be involved with you as you homeschool your families. My heart is full of encouragement and inspirations and motivation for you, along with practical tips and pages to download. In my role as granny supporting my daughter and daughter-in-law, I hope to add homeschool activities and ideas for toddlers and add new or translated Afrikaans homeschooling material, so there will hopefully be some new educational downloads coming in the new year.

Please feel free to comment on this strange year and your hopes for 2021.

Thank you for all your love and support over the years. I wish you and your family health and happiness, grace and peace for the festive season and fresh hope for 2021.

Blessings, Nadene

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18 thoughts on “Strange Endings

  1. Nadine,

    My heart aches for you! But as others so eloquently said, you have planted the seeds and kept them watered. Give her to the Lord’s care. Give your broken heart to the Lord’s care. He will bind up the wounds and promises to take care of you both.

    I came back to your site today because I want to take up a perpetual nature journal for myself. My sweet husband had a massive hemorrhagic stroke 3+ years ago. He is doing well in spite of what experts predicted. We had just graduated our 5th from our homeschool and our youngest was 12. It has flipped our world but God has been so faithful throughout. Our son, who had just graduated, put off college so he could help me care for his dad. He finally was able to go in Fall 2019, then Covid hit. He has just finished last week and taking a break before applying for jobs in his field. Our youngest is about to turn 16 and has 2 more years in our homeschool. She, too, is so very lonely and isolated from friends. We give her much grace and pray for a better 2021 for her. Another son married a year ago and though it was sweet and they were so ready, I remember the day of the wedding when he left our home for good, just looking around the empty room and weeping. Sad but happy.

    Cherish those grand babies when they come! We now have 3, but don’t live very near so are ready to move in spring and hopefully be nearer.

    We moms, who have literally given our lives for our children to stay home and school them must take a new step. We must take care of ourselves, rejoice with the relationships our children desire of us, and move on with whatever new things God has for us. An older woman many years ago when she saw me navigating our 6 children through a store said, Hold on to them loosely. They are yours to raise and grow in the admonition of the Lord. But they are ultimately His to care for.

    Bless you, Nadine. This too shall pass. You have helped so many homeschoolers out there, and your honesty in your testimony will help others as well.

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    • @mummy2six, thank you for sharing your story and for your kind words of encouragement. You have carried so many precious souls in your family through their huge challenges, disappointments and breakthroughs and I would love to send you the warmest virtual hugs of encouragement. Sending you prayers for much grace, wisdom and strength and fresh hope for 2021. Blessings, Nadene

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  2. I’m sorry the ending wasn’t what you envisioned. Maybe it would help to remember that it’s not *really* the ending, right? All those seeds you planted homeschooling have already begun to blossom and will continue to do so.

    Thank you for being authentic with us. My kids are 12, 10, 8 and 6 and it is good for me to remember that in the season I’m in (of sometimes longing to be alone) is only temporary and the longing will shift for their company.

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    • @B B, thank you for your encouraging comments and kind words of support. Those brave and vulnerable “older & wiser” moms who have shared their journey with us “younger” moms following a few years behind are such an encouragement. Their stories and lives help us to start thinking, praying and planning ahead for the unforeseen and unexpected changes and outcomes that can happen despite our current thoughts and hopes. Blessings and grace to you and your family!

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  3. I have been following your blog for years and still look forward each time you post.

    My heart aches along hearing the abrupt departure of your daughter. As an asian, thankfully, our children are not expected to move out upon completion of school. But inevitably, that day will come and I keep reminding myself how precious each child and each year with them is.

    Am sure your daughter will miss qnd return to visit. You have been such a generous source of love in your sharing of your resources and your journey and I am sure, your children will appreciate you more looking back.

    Thank you again, for being such a blessing to us on our homeschool journey!

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    • @Wai Cheng, thank you for your support and kind words of encouragement. I am aware that I am processing feelings about my daughter’s sudden departure with a mixed emotions of loss, shock as well as joy and hope. We live on a very remote mountain farm and knew that our children all wanted to live close to their friends. She has moved to a small country town with a community that have loved and cherished her all her life. It makes perfect sense that she would want to live there right now. Blessings to you and your family and fresh hope for 2021.

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  4. Oh mama, what a sad tale. I am sure she will come back to you, absence makes the heart grow fonder. This year has been a difficult one and I can understand your pain in a way as my daughter moved out this fall, two weeks after my son got married. Two kids gone in two weeks! I do still have two boys at home and we’re adjusting well, but it’s different and even tho my heart was preparing for this, it’s still hard to move on to the next chapter when we still want to be in the previous one. Bless you for continuing to write on your blog.

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    • Thank you for sharing and for your complete understanding, @Melissa. I realized that I am working through a tumult of thoughts and feelings, both happy and sad, sorry and excited, and that gradually, we both will gain a fresh perspective. There have been so many lessons learnt through this strange and different year. May you be refreshed and encouraged in this festive season and wishing you every blessing for 2021.

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  5. I have lived this blog post but I rejoice for the homeschool community that you wil continue posting. I came to this blog as I worked with my grandchildren years ago. It is still one of my favorites and I recommend it to many new homeschoolers . I continue to homeschool two of my grandchildren and I manage a Homeschool Library that I started. I am blessed to be able to support the newbies (numerous this year because of Covid). Again, I ook forward to your future posts.

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  6. Dearest Nadene,
    Please know that you are not alone in the trial of being the ‘practical’ parent who has to do what is right and best for your child, (yes, even in time of pandemic). My home has suffered a similar scene where there was a very abrupt end of study and departure of my third daughter from my home and school. She didn’t see the purpose of completing her studies with what she felt was the enormity of the unrest here in the US and the uncertainty of COVID. However, I have older homeschool graduates, and I too have their perspective of regret for not completing simple tests now that would have benefited them later. Knowing that their lives would have been easier if I had only endured a bit more teenaged angst when they were at home has made these bewildering times a bit more bearable, and I hope that this reminder helps you to weather this tumultuous time. Our birds always return to their home nest for comfort once they’ve had time to spread their wings.
    I would like to take this time to thank you for providing unique and engaging studies for homeschool families around the world. My children are in the minority of their peers who can actually write and read in cursive, in large part because of your Cursive Handwriting forms, and they have ALWAYS loved completing your Minibooks 🙂 ! Please know that you are and and continue to be an inspiration to many, and that this chapter of your life is just a hiccup. I will keep you in prayer.
    Truly,
    Nia

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    • @Nia, thank you for sharing your story and for your kind words of encouragement and support. It is so important to remember to keep perspective and see the full picture of our raising, educating and guiding our children, while still allowing them to still choose their own path. Things do not all turn out as we expect them to and the Lord knows and has grace for each of us. Wishing you every blessing for the festive season and fresh hope for 2021. Blessings, Nadene

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  7. Oh my heart reading this. I too have finished the bulk of the Homeschooling journey this past year. It’s the end of an era. I feel your emotions. I have followed you for years. I send you big hugs for your next phase with adult children coming and going. I dread empty nest stage. Lots of love, you’ve done amazing. Xx

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    • @Kymfullerton, thank you for your understanding, empathy and support. I wish you much grace and wisdom as you navigate your journey of the empty nest season. There is a real relief and joy coming to the end of homeschooling stress and expectations. The time, space and opportunity I now have daily to reflect and grow my relationship with my hubby and the Lord is wonderful. The empty nest is quite beautiful despite the sadness of saying goodbye to my last child living at home! Today, as I painted her room and put a first coat over a mural that my older 2 daughters and I painted for her as a surprise when she turned 13, I thanked the Lord for her, seeing the butterflies, birds and song notes that represented her sweet, innocent teenage life. Sweet, yet sad … and all the feelings … Blessings and best wishes, Nadene

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  8. Wow, that is so very sad. Hopefully, in time, your daughter will thank you for pushing her to finish. But sorry it had to end that way.
    Congratulations on completing homeschooling with your children! That is an immense achievement!!

    I will save this post and read it when the days are difficult. I have 5 daughters and are in the thick of the homeschooling years. Eldest is 13 and youngest twins are 4. So many many years still ahead for me. But this blog post reminds me to enjoy it. Enjoy every challenging en busy en hectic moment! So much activity and noise and learning taking place. You have reminded me to embrace it. It feels so long but it’s only temporary.
    Thank you Nadene, for your honesty always. I continue to follow your blog and appreciate every word!

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    • Thank you so much for your comments, @Janet Kieswetter. These early years speed by so quickly and yet somehow the difficult days feel endless. I have loved all my days as homeschool teacher and mom and now I transition into a different new role, which I trust will be as rich and lovely as the first. Richest blessings to you and your family in this season and much love and thanks for your support.

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