As a child, I remember reading about the Declaration of Independence in history class and quietly smiling to myself, thinking...THIS!...this is why my family is here.
"Mom, I want to enlist into the military."
But I cannot think of too many words, other than those my 15 year-old son has been saying, since he was 4 years-old, that can simultaneously fill my heart with joy AND feel as if someone or something is trying to dig its way out of my chest, one spoonful at at a time.
"I spoke with an Army recruiter during Career Day."
And yet, in the last few months, I have heard very little else.
"I told them I want to be an Army Engineer."
My heart is about ready to burst both with pride and dread, all over my face.
Here's the thing, encouraging my 4 year-old that...YES!...Army dudes are indeed awesome, is easy -- especially, since he idolizes his grandfather (my dad immigrated to the U.S. in 1956) and his favorite super hero happens to be my brother, Uncle Bud the Army dude.
"And I told them that I plan on joining ROTC, next year."
Keeping every deep, dark and terribly awful fear imagineable from creeping out of my heart and slithering its way up onto my face, not so much.
"I'd like to visit West Point, can we go?"
So, my husband and I took a road trip, with just our son.
The weather was absolutely gorgeous, perfect fall day with temperatures in the 60's (my favorite!), but it was also a bittersweet day; for Garth (not his real name) and me, I mean.
This post has been in my head for a very long time. It's still very hard to put the words together, because this is not about politics (I'm not that smart) and I'm not looking for a philosophical debate on history or religion (I'm not that clever, or awake, probably).
I'm just a mom, who loves her child(ren) with every ounce of her being, who's trying...really, really hard...to raise my kids to be...well...MUCH smarter, than me.
Now that they're grown (mostly) and can pretty much think for themselves (see previous parenthesis), I can tell you EXACTLY what the hardest part of raising teenagers is: trying NOT to feel as if you're losing control of...well...every thing.
It's hard sometimes, you know? Pretending to be fearless. Especially for someone who wears her heart on her sleeve...[raises hand]...not without leaving a permanent dent on my face, I mean.
I'm not going to lie, I'm proud AND scared as hell, you guys.
BUT! I'm going to continue to try really, really hard to stay strong; even though I know, that my kids know, I'm about a backstroke away from drowning in my own feelings.
"Thanks for bringing me, this was a good day."
Because, in my head, I can't help but see him as that same little towheaded 4 year-old...running around...always with the running...wearing his favorite Power Rangers sneakers, pretending to be a super hero...like his Uncle Bud.
Upside of raising teens: when they grow independent enough to cook for themselves and start making you fried Oreos and stuff...yo!
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