SummaryFinishing her last lesson plan, Mary Stutzman muses on what Seton has meant to her family over the past 25 years and asks what God has in store for her now.
What Seton has meant to our family over the past twenty-five years.
It was 1994, the year I embarked on my homeschooling adventure.
Those were days when curious strangers would ask my kids at the grocery store, “Home school—what’s that?!” What used to be confused shock has become awe-inspired admiration now by most people.
Well, now that I am approaching the end of this homeschooling era, I wanted to pause and reflect on what Seton has meant to our family over the past twenty-five years.
I sit here with a Baltimore Catechism on my computer desk, and I recall so fondly the hours spent curled up on the couch with a child or two, quizzing them on their weekly memorization. And here is a book on the lives of the saints.
Ah, yes, those dear, heavenly friends whom we came to know and love through reading the “saint of the day” at morning prayers; we also got to know them through the quarterly book reports and the many stories that were woven into the textbooks. Do you know how St. Josaphat was martyred, for example? I won’t spoil it for you, but we learned about him in the 3rd grade English workbook.
A map of the world hangs on the wall above me, the colors faded over the years from the sunshine that streams into our schoolroom.
And of course, there is Jesus on the crucifix, looking down on this homeschooling momma of six, telling her heart not to be sad. It aches just a little knowing that an important chapter in my life is coming to an end.
What I’ve Loved
Like most homeschooling families, the years have been full of ups and downs, but in my pondering, the joys far outweigh the pains. Here is where my meandering thoughts take me: I loved the leisurely mornings spent in our pajamas on a snowy day.
I loved watching my boys serve at daily Mass, something they still do, even as college students. I loved bringing home a laundry basket full of library books and then digging in and reading them one by one, waiting for the one that would be their favorite and must be read 14 times.
I loved teaching them how to sound out words and then watching the amazed look on their faces when they realized they had just read their first sentence! I loved watching them take breaks outside together and become the very best of friends.
I loved the beautiful, traditional families that were portrayed in the Faith and Freedom readers, books out of print but somehow miraculously in the hands of my children.
Help…Only a Phone Call Away
I loved the feeling of relief after talking to a Seton counselor, knowing that I was not in this alone. I loved watching the light bulb turn on when a child finally figured out a math concept.
I loved having the support of my wonderful husband and the quiet time spent with him after the kids went to bed, both of us tackling together the teetering stack on my desk that needed to be graded before the next morning. I loved the smell that wafted out of the boxes of new books that arrived from Seton each fall.
I loved living close enough to our parents that they could be part of our homeschooling adventure by helping with the grading, reading to little ones, or snatching a kid or two away to go make cookies at Grandma’s house.
I loved grading essays and watching them all become excellent writers. Jacob once got an A on a college essay, and the professor wrote on the top of the paper, “You are an excellent writer. Tell your High School English teacher, ‘Thank you.’” He called me that night from college, told me that story, and then said, “Thanks, Mom.”
I loved teaching them to sew and then watching them create quilts for their beds. I loved listening to them practice their musical instruments and then shine at a concert or recital, Greg and Adam both performing in High School with All-State Honor Bands. I loved talking to other moms who were nervous about giving homeschooling a try and then seeing their families excel and thrive with Seton.
I loved sharpening pencils and dusting off the cobwebs in my mind on math concepts that were long-ago forgotten but shone again with use. I loved reliving great literary works every couple of years and enjoying each child’s different perspectives on classics like Pride and Prejudice and A Tale of Two Cities. I loved the satisfaction of watching them rip open big important envelopes from colleges and universities, envelopes filled with dreams and promises but also generous scholarships—rewards for their hard work.
Mostly, I loved knowing that I was doing something to change the world, creating Godly people filled with integrity and virtue and kindness and strength.
Last things…and first things
This end of an era comes with its share of “last things.” For example, this past weekend, I just put the last period at the end of the last sentence at the end of the last lesson plan that I will ever draft.
Then there’s Philip, who was the last of our high schoolers to take the Right to Life bus trip to Washington DC this year; and he will be the last of many other things…recipient of the last graded paper and the last Seton diploma, and he’ll be the last child we send off to college.
I mentioned this to our daughter, Sarah, this week, and she said, “Mom, instead of thinking of all the ‘lasts,’ think of all of the ‘firsts’ that are coming up—like your first grandchild to receive the Sacrament of Reconciliation!”
And of course, she is right! I need to shift my focus and think of all of the adventures that lie ahead. There does come a day when our children are wiser than we are. I would like to think that Seton had a big part to play in the wisdom of all six of our children, four of whom have all graduated from college, are well-established and thriving, and are living their Catholic faith.
Our two youngest have bright futures before them as well, as Matthew pauses his Engineering degree to pursue his dream of becoming a soldier and Philip wraps up his senior year and starts packing his bags to begin his college career this fall.
The Next Chapter
I had wondered what God would have in store for me in this next chapter of my life that could possibly be as rewarding as 25 years of homeschooling has been. My pastor recently offered me the part-time job of Director of Religious Education at our parish, so now I have 200 children to love!
The years spent as a homeschooling mom with Seton have prepared me well to inspire and guide these little souls. In addition, as of this writing, we await the birth of grandbabies 6, 7 and 8. So as one era ends, another begins.
Will there be a future generation of homeschooling Stutzmans?
Time will tell.
And if I am called upon, I still have that laundry basket waiting to be filled to the brim again with library books.