A Series of Unbeaten Paths

We have reached a milestone in the Ms. B. household. The first of my three homeschooled kids has graduated from high school!

Is it a huge relief? My son is ecstatic to have fully completed the high school chapter of his life. He is itching to move on. I am a bit surprised, however, that I am not feeling such a sense of relief. For me graduation is marking the beginning of something new, not really the end of something done. Curiously, it’s not just a new chapter; it’s more like a whole new volume in the series of life.

I have dear friends who are at the early stages of Volume 1. Part of me longs to go back there – probably because hindsight is 20/20, and now that I have survived the toddler years, they seem like a piece of cake compared to the unbeaten path of the teen and young adult years. Most likely, the truth is all parenting stages are part of a continual series of unbeaten paths…

It seems like there is more at stake now in Volume 2. Obviously the whole point of Volume 1 is to prepare kids for Volume 2. Did I do my job well? The proof will be in the future pudding. He needs a steady job. He’s pounding the pavement, knocking on doors, making calls. The economy is tougher than ever before in my lifetime. Will he persevere? He longs to complete his associate’s degree in recording engineering, but how will he afford to attend his dream school?

At this stage, I can’t just pull out a box of Legos to satisfy his need for productivity. I can’t just schedule a co-op day to fulfill his passion for living. In Volume 2, it’s his responsibility, not mine.

So why don’t I feel a sense of relief at this significant achievement? I am tremendously proud of him, that’s for sure. He’s done well. During his senior year of high school, he completed an entire freshman year of college. He’s a dependable young man with a great heart for people, a passion for music, and a real love for the Lord. I don’t feel anxiety. I simply don’t feel released.

If anything, my burden to pray for him, as I have incessantly throughout his whole life, is greater than ever before. Faithfully, I watch over him now from a distance, and my door is always open…

I am immensely grateful for this milestone, for homeschooling was more than a choice for us. It was a gift – an answer to the desperate prayer of a single mother. The answer came loaded with blessings and grace. Little did I know back then how big this gift was. For our little crew, homeschooling is not simply a season of activity lasting from ages 5 to 18. Homeschooling has served as the concrete mixer that has supplied the foundational attitude towards life, learning, family, our place in the world, our purpose here on earth. It shapes how we relate to each other – how we react to each other. It teaches us how to walk in humility. “Family first” has been our mantra, followed by, “If you can’t react kindly to your own family, you have no business being nice to anyone else.” All of this and more we discovered in the pages of Volume 1…

So now we put that foundation to the test. Ironically, as we enter Volume 2, all the academic knowledge I’ve pumped into him over the years doesn’t seem quite as important as it was in Volume 1. Yes, he can read, write, multiply, quote the Bill of Rights, and name the parts of a cell. What matters now is can he make good choices? Can he face adversity? Does he trust the Lord to see him through? Can he interact with people from all walks of life? Can he hold his own? Will he care well for himself?

My son has graduated from high school. In a way, this event marks a second birth. Eighteen years ago, he burst forth into my life. Now he is bursting forth into the world out there. Volume 2 promises to be a very exciting sequel.

Photo by Shelley Paulson Photography


  1. Kari Bryant says:

    Patsy, I’m tearing up as I read this!  My heart swells as you speak about your increasing burden to pray for J during this new volume of his life.   The prayers of others during that same time in my life is what ultimately drew me back into the Lord’s arms after all those years.  You are such a great momma!  Thank you for sharing your life! 

    • msbsbonnet says:

      Thanks for that, Kari! They grow so fast! Your kiddos will be tossing those caps before you even know it! 

      Are you blogging these days? I miss your insights! 

  2. Congratulations on your graduate. I have a 2012 graduate as well, although she isn’t my first. (My oldest graduated two years ago.) I am learning that the hardest part of parenting is the letting-go; standing back, and letting them make their own choices; staying out of God’s way, so HE can show them what HE wants them to do now….

  3. Congratulations to both you and your son. It’s a huge achievement for both of you.

  4. Congratulations! Volume 2 is a nice way to look at this next stage.

  5. Denise Mackey says:

    Patsy, you have done well by your children. Your thoughts clearly state the emotional challenge of the next stage. *sigh*

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