I remember leaving the hospital with my daughter, not long after I gave birth. Sitting in a wheelchair holding my brand new baby girl, it struck me as absurd that my husband and I were allowed to leave with her. As I was wheeled out to the car, I stared down in disbelief at my little bundle.
Wait! How can you trust us enough to leave with her!?!
Where is the Baby Expert???
Shouldn’t you do a background check??
I’m not ready!!!
Most parents I know have had similar feelings at some point during those early days of parenthood. I mean, it’s pretty insane when you stop and consider the huge responsibility of parenthood.
As challenging as those first several months are, at least it is clear from the very beginning that as parents, our ultimate role is that of caretaker. Feeding, changing, rocking, repeat.
Not that the role of parenting babies is easy, but it is CLEAR.
When we began our homeschooling journey, my daughter was five and entering Kindergarten. I had spent the first five years of her life as her Caretaker. As we transitioned to homeschooling, Teacher was the primary role I assumed. Caretaking certainly continued, of course, but mostly, teaching became our new focus.
From Caretaker to Teacher.
We are currently in the heart of the tween and teen years over here. My son is 11 and my daughter is 13. We have found ourselves in the midst of another meaningful transition. While my kiddos still certainly need some caretaking and teaching, they are getting older and becoming more independent. I find that I am now guiding, facilitating, encouraging, and observing more than I ever have before. There is a lot of mentoring happening over here.
From Caretaker to Teacher to Mentor.
This is an exciting time because now, more than ever, I am watching my children begin the process of spreading their wings. They’re taking “test flights” here and there.
They are stretching themselves and going beyond their comfort zones.
Making mistakes and then trying again.
Winning some and losing others.
They are growing.
I am watching it all with excitement and fear and wonder and pride. And while teaching continues and caretaking will always exist, my primary role is gradually becoming that of their mentor.
So what is the final role?
The one that comes after all of the others? The one that I hope and pray I’m fortunate enough to reach?
This, in my humble opinion, is the honor that is bestowed upon a parent who has loved their child unconditionally. The parent who has laughed and cried. Comforted and rejoiced. Said yes and no repeatedly. Lost their temper and apologized. Made mistakes over and over. Has found themselves on their knees too many times to count.
The final role is Friend.
From Caretaker to Teacher to Mentor to Friend.
There is no guarantee. This is life, after all. But at the risk of sounding overly simplistic, I truly believe that homeschooling, (and parenting, really) can be divided up into these four phases.
Recognizing the 4 Main Phases of Homeschooling.
This recognition is simple, yet has the potential to be so powerful.
Care to share which phase you are currently in?