February 1, 2019
This post is continued from part one.
I didn't struggle at launch phase to know what to do and how to do it. There was nothing for me as a young adult in the town I grew up in. I knew what I wanted. I left home to go to university.
It's completely different for our kids.
My young adult experience will not be my kids' experience for every reason under the sun including upbringing, K-12 schooling experience, personality, and prevailing culture.
The Canadian way of doing things is to stay close to home for university. This isn't a rule but it's the cultural norm. Unless you can't find the right program locally, or have access to a lot of money for university, it just makes more financial sense, within the Canadian university system, to stay local. And if you live in Quebec, where post-secondary costs are the lowest for residents in all of Canada, it makes even more sense to stay home.
Even though I left home at 17 I stayed close, like most of my university-bound friends, going to school in the closest city about 1 hour away. And homebody that I was (and am) I returned home nearly every weekend to be where I felt most secure, with family.
My first apartment, 1993, age 17
If our kids pursue post-secondary studies in the city of Montreal as we have been encouraging them to, it's likely they'll be living at home for years to come. That was the point in moving and living here as a family.
We wanted to provide as much leverage as possible for our kids to launch into adulthood, minimizing the burden of student debt. We are not able to provide a lot of financial support for university but we do have the freedom to live in the province with the lowest tuition rates and to provide a home in a city with a lot of opportunity. (Montreal is an affordable city to live in, in comparison to other Canadian cities with comparable services and opportunities.)
And so it's not like the story told in the culture-at-large, especially the American culture-at-large which so dominates our media and societal consciousness.
It's not like the story of some of my American homeschooling counterparts with dual enrollment options in high school and applications sent to a myriad of schools around the country.
It's our story. It's their story. And it's different than my own young adulthood.
These years remind me a bit of the toddler and preschooler years but with way more sleep and way better communication skills. (Thank God!)
So much growth and development is going on. Then we were guiding kids into appropriate behaviors, teaching them how to be part of a family, and now we're guiding into colleges, universities, and careers, teaching how to gain independence from family.
Family, a close and loving relationship, is what we have to give our kids.
So far no one feels the need to distance themselves relationally, to separate in order to define themselves. At some point, spacial distance will be the reality. Damien and I are half-jokingly planning our own launch. The kids might not leave home, but we will!
There is no script to follow so we're writing our own, based on who our family is, where we live, what our kids want and need, and what we want and need as parents. We get to live our lives, individually and collectively according to who we are within the constraints of our circumstances. It's always been this way, so why would these years be any different?
I come back time and again to Mary Oliver's question. The last line of her poem, "The Summer Day".
Tell me, what is it you plan to do / with your one wild and precious life?
My kids are still figuring out what they plan to do with their one wild and precious life. (I'm still figuring out what I plan to do with my one wild and precious life!) And they're figuring it out here, at home, in relationship with us. They need our help with various things. They also prove their independence in reassuring (phew, they are growing up!) and surprising (wow, didn't see that coming) ways.
They're right on track. Their own track.
They truly are growing up and taking increasing responsibility for their lives. They're just doing it while still living at home. And I am so happy I get to share my life with these people. What a gift.
One of the challenges I'm facing right now is that I'm ready to be done homeschooling.
This realization hit me last fall, with the baby in her 10th grade year, a son in his last year of high school, the oldest graduated and considering her next steps. With work and the desire to build a career, new dreams on the distant horizon for Damien and I (even if the kids never leave home, we will!), and the fullness of the last twenty years of parenting (homeschooling for almost 16 of those years), I’m ready to be done that chapter.
But the combination of Brienne's high school education needs; the complexity of navigating the Quebec school system, including a new homeschool law that could potentially open doors for said high school education needs but only with parental advocacy and action; the work of graduating my older two with detailed learning portfolios and transcripts that I've created; and helping those graduated and almost-graduated kids navigate the journey to university (do I want to study? what do I want to study? where should I study?) have made this one of the most "school"-intense seasons of my parenting life.
And I think it's this intensity combined with the everyday emotional effort of raising teenagers, that is making me feel "I'm ready to be done homeschooling."
Thankfully, I'm on the home stretch but it's a lot of work.
But what else would I rather be doing? Really?
Nothing matters more to me than my children, and there is nothing more important to me than loving and supporting them through all these transitions.
As they figure out “all the stuff” they are loved and supported. They are given space and they are held accountable.
What is the point of life, if not to love each other through all this? To share these experiences. This is life. The living of it all.
What are we here for, on earth, in our homes, in our relationships if not to love and be loved?
My kids can struggle and work through the issues of their high school and young adult years - school, friends, identity, navigating difficult choices and dilemmas - isolated from us and our support, relationally or spatially. Or they can do it with our help. And I choose the latter every time. Even though I'd rather be "done" some of the tedious and time-consuming tasks. (It's been a season of phone calls and appointments. Not my favorite.)
Maybe this wasn't what I had been expecting. It's certainly not like my own young adulthood. But it's what I've always wanted, at the relational level, and what I've built: a home of love, connection, and support.
Stay as long as you need.
Freedom Education starts today with a podcast episode to get us going and then next Tuesday is our first video lesson. For more information see this post.
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