In ten days, I’ll live in a little empty nest—the five kids will all have successfully gone onto the next part of their lives, living away from home, and I’ll be here—no dog, no one. Just me.
I have a good friend who ran our huge homeschool co-op back when our kids were young, and I was just starting Brave Writer. We used to joke and say,
“I could run a really great co-op or business, if I wasn’t homeschooling!”
And it was true.
I ran my business on “mommy time” which meant squeezing it in around all the edges. I didn’t travel to conventions (which was against popular homeschool business wisdom). I didn’t seek publication through traditional means. I spoke when it fit into our family schedule—which turned out to be seldom.
I wouldn’t change it.
There’s an ocean of time in front of me now—time I’ll fill teaching at Xavier, traveling to see my kids in all the exotic locales they choose to inhabit, revising products and classes, writing books, and more.
The best part is: I’m ready. I don’t have regrets of not having seen Johannah act on a professional stage in a Shakespeare play. I didn’t miss a single lacrosse game for Liam or Noah. I was home to lie on my back and gaze at the night sky with Jacob. I watched Caitrin swim for fun at the YMCA from a lounge chair for many summers.
We’ve played more board games, taken more trips to museums, and have spent more time reading aloud than I ever imagined when my kids were babies and toddlers.
I’ve traveled with and to all of them, showing them the world first and then letting them show me.
They’ve educated me about topics unfamiliar to me, and I’ve gotten to share with them all of my passions, which they graciously admire. We love, know, and support each other—through all kinds of tough icky hard stuff and the celebrations and joys that come with evolving as human beings, in a tightly-knit homeschooling family.
And I’m so grateful! Deeply!
Doesn’t mean I’ve stopped worrying, nagging, or caring. I’m still a mom! But I’m conscious of the bond—and the strength and generosity of the shared memories. In short, I’m glad I have the memories—they are wonderful companions in the empty nest.
Now I’m looking around and taking stock.
Brave Writer is strong and healthy even with all the devoted energy I gave my family, but some days I reread my writing from 16 years ago and think: “Julie, you’ve GOT to revise that book!”
My website has been the tract home with the maze of room additions where you could easily get lost on your way back to the front door. Trust me, I know! It’s happened to me! This summer, I made it a priority to fix that!
We launched our brand new, revised, mobile-friendly (looks AMAZING on the iPhone) website. Go directly to the online classes portion (it’s the BEST!).
We’re rewriting whole sections of it (it will take all fall to complete that project so check in from time to time and click around).
Revision projects for older products are now in the pipeline (aka, writing!), and I’m making myself more available for speaking (conventions, webinars).
Thank you for all the support, and reviews of Brave Writer’s work over the years. Thanks for being generous to me, but also giving me honest feedback, too. When I gather my courage, I read your reviews and take to heart what I read. Your evaluations make Brave Writer a better company and product every time you tell me the truth. (Much of it is wonderfully supportive, too, which helps me keep going.)
I have so much more I want to write and share—I’ve spent the last 20 years reading, studying, and developing my pedagogy. I get to test it regularly and have it reviewed by peers in the academy. It’s a privilege to both teach college students, and to work in this community, with all of you.
I’ll miss those early morning snuggles of little ones (I already do!) and the loud happy voices of teens who bust through the front door (do they ever just walk through one?) with all their plans and ideas squirting out of their every movement and comment.
In exchange, I’ll have time—to reflect, to write, to speak, to share, and to be a front row cheerleader for your homeschool odyssey! It’s so so worth it! I’m so happy you are taking that risk to be that parent to your kids.
You won’t regret it (at least, I hope you don’t!). If I can help you get there (to that place of deep investment and confidence), let me know.
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Image by Karen Roe (cc cropped, text added)