When Your Kids Graduate, Will There Be Any “You” Left?

When Your Kids Graduate | HSLDA Blog

When Your Kids Graduate | HSLDA Blog

I recently took a trip with two of my very best friends to Ireland. We have known each other for several decades, before husbands, children, back when our dreams were fresh and we were determining our next steps. At midlife, we took time to be together, to reflect on how we want to live the remainder of our years, where we are called to serve. We prayed for each other, we talked about soul things, and we were quiet together, absorbed in a journey we all very much needed.

When Your Kids Graduate | HSLDA Blog

My friends Amy (L), Janet (Middle), and I making use of the selfie-stick my husband bought for me. This is lovely Connemara.

At the end of the week, I came back home with joy to my husband and children, reminded of the adventurous woman my husband was attracted to. While he engages in parenting and making educational decisions with me for our children, he loves to get me away from it all and talk about other things. I find this is true for all the moms I know, homeschooling and otherwise. My husband married me, not a homeschooling mother, and he needs to talk with me about things other than kids, curriculum, and school schedules.

If you are like me, this stage of your life is defined by your roles as wife, mother, home-educating parent. If you find yourself in a crowd of new people and are asked, “What do you do?” you answer in terms of what is consuming your time right now. That is a natural response. But don’t buy the lie.

You are more than what you do.

If all goes well and you live a full life, you will not always be a homeschooling mom. You might be a parent, but your responsibilities to your children will wane. When asked to define yourself at this stage, will you have anything of “you” left?

A few years ago, I was at a homeschooling event and overheard a conversation between an older homeschooling mom, about to graduate her last of many children, and a younger mom, newer to the journey. The younger mom congratulated the other mom on being about done with this stage. Surprisingly, she responded with near despair, remarking that she hoped some of her older children would let her homeschool her grandchildren.

When Your Kids Graduate 3 - Rachelle Reitz - HSLDA Blog

At the time I was feeling guilty about my part-time job and the several hours a day it took me away from giving my full-attention to my children. It felt selfish at times, but this conversation was a turning point. Along with friends and hobbies, working, even a little bit, is one thing that helps me retain my identity as a woman made in the image of God, with unique interests and a soul that will continue to develop and be of value long after my children have flown the nest.

Paid-work may not be part of what keeps you grounded. It could be volunteering, developing hobbies, and remaining vitally connected to the female friends who know you and will help you be true to your real self.

When we engage our true selves in things that matter to us, we also lead the way for our children to do the same. We help them consider their gifts, what they love, and who they want to be. We allow them to be individuals as we show them that we are more than their mom and teacher.

When Your Kids Graduate | HSLDA Blog

Celebrating my Irish heritage at the Cliffs of Moher.

In our narcissistic culture that tells us to put ourselves first, it is often hard to walk the fine line of taking care of ourselves without falling prey to self-worship. Discovering that balance is vital to the health of our families and our future selves. We worship our Maker when we keep in mind our whole mission, and prepare ourselves to live lives of service, beyond this one consuming phase we are in right now.

So don’t neglect the inner you. Nurture old friends while being available for new friendships. Find people on different journeys: retirees, young adults, women that don’t homeschool. Develop interests that feed your spirit and keep you interesting. And someday, if you have a chance to meet up with friends from far away in Ireland, GO!

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Photo Credit: First image design by Charity Klicka; all other images by Rachelle Reitz.

10 thoughts on “When Your Kids Graduate, Will There Be Any “You” Left?

  1. It is so true. I am done homeschooling and I have no hobbies, interests, gave up my career so I am unqualified to work in my field because I invested every moment in my family. I have a hard time trying to find other things to invest in because I feel so selfish at pursuing something that I am interested in. It is not only true in what we do, but in how we think. It is a mental block. I would advise mothers to find that balance between a joyful sacrificing life lived for the Lord, and keeping your own identity.


    • I am a couple of years shy of graduating my youngest child. Three down, only one to go now. Two already left the “nest”, another is getting married next month, so he will be gone too. Only my 16 yr old daughter, her dad, and myself in the house. It’s a big change going from a family of six, to just three. For the last 25 years I’ve poured myself into my kids. I’ve loved being a “Mommy” and I’m having a hard time giving it up! But 19 year-olds don’t like to be “mommied”, I’ve discovered!😉 I feel like I’m going into overdrive with my youngest….my time is running out and there’s so much parenting I still want to do….so many “field trips” we still haven’t taken. A lot of things we wanted to do but never had the finances.


    • Your comments reflect precisely how I feel at this stage in life! Our family has moved often, discouraging friendships with other women. I feel empty and confused. I often wonder if there is a support system for older homeschool moms. (There are oodles for the newbies.; ) Any thoughts?


      • L- So honest! My community has a lot of opportunities for the experienced end-of-the-journey moms to teach in co-ops, and meet in a group of moms who just get together and pray. Your experience on the journey can be so helpful to the new moms and maybe that offering will help your hurting heart. But I so understand how hard it is when you are new to an area. We have moved a lot and at heart I’m an introvert who hates small talk and takes a LONG time to form friendships. Everyone is different, but consider service opportunities in church and the community to meet people. What has your heart? Feeding the hungry, ministering to families, teaching kids to read? You can find opportunities to do these things in any community in America. Asking the question you asked and others that follow will be part of finding vision for the next stage of life. May it be joyous!


  2. Thank you, Rachelle. My youngest of three graduated this past spring. Your encouraging words resonate as I have just completed a four-course sequence in copyediting. I will be receiving my certificate shortly. My family has stood beside me while I pursued this interest. My husband and I encouraged each child’s interests from an early age; they reciprocated by supporting me. I am thankful. New full days are ahead.


  3. I spent the first 5 years of motherhood in grad school and then 7 more running my own clinic as a sole proprietor. I finally gave it up 2 years ago because discontinuing the kids’ educations at home wasn’t the better option for us and I was quickly killing myself from the weight of it all. I know God won’t fail me but I still have no clear answers on how to be the best me in all areas of my life. I know what I will do again once I have the space in my life to do so, but will I still be qualified? Will my skills have grown rusty in the waiting? While waiting, God has truly blessed me with little opportunities in my career field that delight my soul. I remind myself often that the “grass isn’t greener” and to stay focused in the moment, even if it’s just another grammar lesson. #thingsyourmothernevertaughtyou #thedarksideoffeminism


    • I loved this so much: “God has truly blessed me with little opportunities in my career field that delight my soul.” I had to lay down my “career”–it involved a lot of travel and I didn’t want to leave my family. But little opportunities to do something here and there with related skills have helped me immensely.


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