I want to begin this series backing up a little and talking about that last year of twelfth grade while your MK is still at home with you on your field of service. Why?
I think it is important that we share the emotions involved with an MK leaving the field that has become home to attend college in their native country which they understand very little about.
Let's start by talking about the Mom's side of things:
Homeschooling your child all of their lives makes preparing for college a little intimidating. When your child is in sixth or seventh grade and you are dragging them through Math class wondering how we would ever be able to teach them through Algebra II, you can't imagine graduation day ever coming. Your child moves on to 10th Grade and you are now crying together over other subjects like Biology and that Algebra II that you were dreading, or subjects that you have fallen behind in because of the timing of furloughs. You hopefully are able to enjoy a furlough sometime in the time frame of 9th or 10th grade and you realize that this is their last furlough before heading off to college. That means it is time to make the most of our furlough travels and visit some colleges along the way. As you are making these important visits and taking tours of college campuses you are rejoicing inside as your child is only fifteen (for example). You have plenty of time!
Then you blink your eyes and it is the summer before their Senior year of high school. All of your thinking of 'When will this ever end!' is now...about to end. All of a sudden it is hitting you quicker than you would like. You now switch to thoughts of 'Wait, wait, just a little bit longer!" "But I am not ready for him/her to fill out college applications. We have a whole year still!"
I think more for the Moms who do the majority of the homeschooling, okay, all of it, the thoughts are initially tied to the the amount of days left to get said amount of school work completed, graded, translated into a GPA (depending on the curriculum you choose this can be easier for some than others), entered onto a transcript, and printed out elegantly on a high school diploma! Which, by the way, causes us to be wondering....if we homeschool in the village of........in Africa. Do we even DO a graduation for our ONE homeschool Senior??? (More thoughts on graduation for homeschoolers will be shared on my personal blog, coming soon!)Questions, questions, and more questions leave us feeling like we should have never started on this homeschooling journey in the first place! In other words, it is all starting to get real!
I know with our daughter, we returned from furlough after making all the college visits we needed to make, having celebrated her Sweet Sixteenth birthday in the States with friends and family and we felt overwhelmed. We had so much work to do and we could feel time speeding up on us. My daughter kept this note that I hung on her desk lamp for motivation for three school years. I haven't moved it even after she has gone away to college.
Dad's side of things:
Now, some of us are married to men whom we might think have no emotions about this sort of thing. But, please ladies, don't underestimate the struggle/turmoil your husband is experiencing inside about your son or daughter (especially!) leaving the nest. They are a bit more controlled about sharing their emotions, thoughts,and concerns because, either a.) they are not that good at expressing these new emotions, or b.) they understand the need you have for them to be the rock in the family and they are holding it all in.
What do fathers who don't always need to focus on the book knowledge of their child think about? They think about the preparedness of their son/daughter to face the real world. And for fathers of MKs who are about to leave the nest it is even more unsettling because they KNOW their children are not ready to face the world! It might be the understanding about the lack of their child's "street sense" because they never let them out of their site up to this point in their lives. It might be the simple realization that their children can't even drive a car so how are they going to make it in the real world where everyone can drive a car!?
Sadly, fathers also begin to think to rethink the years and how much they didn't do with their child. Whether it be a trip they wanted to take, a toy they wanted their child to have, or a go-cart they wanted to build together; often this is the time for regret. They begin to look at younger children and remember that just yesterday they should have been playing hide-and-seek in the back yard but they had something to do. Us Moms have these moments as well! But the poor Daddy's seem to get hit harder with these thoughts. It is a struggle between, we spent the years the best we could and wishing to stop the clock and rewind it just a few years.
Brothers and Sisters point of view:
The emotions of the siblings of our MKs varies depending on age and their level of understanding of the soon coming change in their family dynamics. Sometimes they just want to enjoy the time together because it still seems like a while before their older sibling leaves for college. Just be ready for unexpected tears as the days of preparation grow nigh.
Advice the for that last year in a nutshell: Enjoy each day! Don't necessarily countdown! Focus on the time you do have and remember, when the stress of getting them settled in at college is all said and done, they will miss the little things. Little things become the big things and the most special memories are made in the simplest moments of life together as a family.