At 4:00 PM this afternoon, May 10th, 2014, our second son Cooper received his homeschool diploma along with 21 other homeschool graduates from the Upstate area of South Carolina. The ceremony was all about these 21 students, and rightly so—their hard work and discipline these last 13 years of schooling; their accomplishments in academics, music, sports, community service, leadership and other extra-curricular activities; and those bright future plans that are no longer on the distant horizon but are about to materialize.
There were testimonies and remembrances of co-op teachers, grandparents, siblings, youth pastors, parents and other friends and mentors. It was a great time of recognition and celebration—that’s what you do to put the capstone on this portion of a wall you’ve labored on for all these years. A similar scene will be played out at hundreds of other locations across the country over the next few weeks—homeschool co-ops, Christian schools, private and public high schools. Graduates will take front and center stage for good reason. But as I’ve worked through my own emotions these last few weeks one thing keeps crowding out the other thoughts in my mind: what about mom?
Any mom has an incredible load on her hands with just one kiddo—the ‘basic’ stuff like birthing, diapers, laundry, meals, cleaning, shopping, projects, homework, discipline and ongoing conversations, play time, naps, errands, taxi service, the list goes on and on (this is where I begin to feel exhausted). But on top of this the homeschool mom—along with her husband, hopefully—has made the decision to teach her child(ren) academically, committing to the immense effort required for just one year of schooling (multiplied by however many kids in the family). All those subjects—math, reading, literature, history, Bible, spelling, phonics, science, English, Spanish, economics, government, and Latin (phew!)—can be daunting, and have been for many. But when I look back over the last 13 years at a mom who has done this for the entire duration of her child’s education, I feel like Job—and stand in awe.
South Carolina requires 180 school days each year. If you count half that number for kindergarten and then add up first through twelfth grade you end up with 2,220 days of schooling to reach high school graduation. My wife taught Cooper for 2,220 days over the last 13 years, in addition to her other ‘normal’ responsibilities. What a mom does to fulfill her calling is extraordinary by any measure, and I certainly want to recognize and congratulate all moms who see a son or daughter cross that stage wearing that cap and gown this year; but there is something immensely special about the homeschool mom. In closing, all I can do is echo with thanksgiving the words written by King Lemuel found in the book of Proverbs of the Christian Bible:
“An excellent wife who can find? She is far more precious than jewels.
The heart of her husband trusts in her, and he will have no lack of gain.
She does him good, and not harm, all the days of her life.
She seeks wool and flax, and works with willing hands.
She is like the ships of the merchant; she brings her food from afar.
She rises while it is yet night and provides food for her household and portions for her maidens.
She considers a field and buys it; with the fruit of her hands she plants a vineyard.
She dresses herself with strength and makes her arms strong.
She perceives that her merchandise is profitable. Her lamp does not go out at night.
She puts her hands to the distaff, and her hands hold the spindle.
She opens her hand to the poor and reaches out her hands to the needy.
She is not afraid of snow for her household, for all her household are clothed in scarlet.
She makes bed coverings for herself; her clothing is fine linen and purple.
Her husband is known in the gates when he sits among the elders of the land.
She makes linen garments and sells them; she delivers sashes to the merchant.
Strength and dignity are her clothing, and she laughs at the time to come.
She opens her mouth with wisdom, and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue.
She looks well to the ways of her household and does not eat the bread of idleness.
Her children rise up and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her:
‘Many women have done excellently, but you surpass them all.’
Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.
Give her of the fruit of her hands, and let her works praise her in the gates.”
– Proverbs 31:15-31 (ESV)
Congratulations are in order, Cooper, but let’s both recognize your mom as the REAL superstar of your graduation today!
Cooper plans to attend Bob Jones University this fall as an Exercise Science major and has signed a letter of commitment to play Basketball with the BJU Bruins.