Last Day of School

“Wait — come get your sandals back on. I need one more picture.” We head outside, and I hand my phone to J and squat down in front of the door with the letter board. “Just me this time,” I tell her. I’ve already snapped about 10 pictures of the big kids holding the same letter board. Sweat beads on my forehead. I have no idea if any of the pictures she takes will turn out, but I am glad I’ll have them to capture this milestone: the end our first (and last?) year of homeschool.

Later I’ll swipe through the pictures from this afternoon and compare them to the ones we took in September, on our first day of homeschool. The kids’ growth is obvious; they are taller, shorter hair, faces more angular. Their growth is also measured by the words they can read, the math problems they can complete, and the facts they can tell me about the solar system, dinosaurs, and the oceans. And then there’s their teacher: in the first picture she is the sleep-deprived, caring for an infant, stressed-out, 2020-version of herself. In today’s picture she looks more refreshed; the baby is a year old now and a great sleeper. There are still hard decisions to be made, but she’s moving confidently forward in her choices rather than ruminating on the alternatives. This year at home with Mom might be a little blip on the timelines of my kids’ lives, but the bonus time with them has been an unexpected blessing (and challenging time of refinement) for me.

Some of the highlights? Slow breakfasts with audiobooks, playing outside before school lessons, studying fractions in pajamas, reading books together on my bed, my son learning to read, my daughter falling in love with stories, sibling giggles and lots of baby snuggles, trips to national parks made possible by a flexible schedule, and finally teaching them some Spanish. I’ve reflected on and written about some of the ups and downs of our homeschool experience, but for now, I’m focusing on the good and saying a prayer of gratitude for the grace and bounty we received this year.

Ten months after we started our homeschool year, we finish it here, with just a few pictures on my phone to end the day. Tomorrow we will get a special lunch to celebrate. There’s no preschool graduation, no special assembly or book full of art projects, no field day games. But there are lots of hugs and high fives, joy in what was accomplished, and happy hearts heading into summer break. This year was so hard and so wonderful. I’ll cherish my memories of our homeschool year. I’m so proud of them. I’m so proud of us.

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