My dreams for my children have always been ordinary.
I don't really know what that says about me, but it's the truth.
All I've ever wanted for them is that they are happy and find fulfillment in their lives. I hoped that they would marry someone who would love them forever and always, and that they would have children who would also be happy and healthy. I dreamed that they would have a job that would bring them satisfaction, yet also enough income to have everything they need and some of what they want. All of this, along with safety, health and longevity.
Plentiful dreaming, but not extraordinary.
I never dreamed that they would be world renowned for anything- music, sports, inventions etc. That never occurred to me at all.
Since August, I feel that I am being stretched in ways that I never anticipated and honestly, never wanted. Well, I never would have wanted it I'm sure but honestly I don't know that it ever really occurred to me at all.. that I might have a child who was interested in serving his country.
Blithely in July, I took both my sons to visit the Air Force Academy in Colorado. We oohed and aahed over the extraordinary architecture of the Chapel, ate a pizza in the food court, peeked around the bookstore. It was a stop amongst many stops on our five week trip and it registered as no more than that for any of us.
Thus, when my Dad was coming for a visit in August, I planned a day for us to drive over the Annapolis. We'd visit the capitol city of Maryland, tour the Naval Academy and eat at a crab house. A wonderfully enjoyable way to spend a summer afternoon, I'd say. And I was right.
I did not foresee the rapidly growing excitement in my 16-now-17 year old son's eyes. I did not see the sudden fire of desire and passion and then when I saw it, I fully expected it to flame and then burn out quickly.
Now it is nearly December. He is single minded in his desire to attend the Naval Academy. Each test score, each leadership position, each accomplishment is a step in that direction. It is his first choice, his motivation, his dream.
What about MY dreams?
I realize now that nowhere in MY dreams did I leave room for his dreams to be different. Not that his are directly opposed to mine of course, but nowhere in my dreaming was there a risk taken that could shatter the comfortable progression I had chosen.
In the months since August, I have wrestled fiercely with my desire to support his dreams while also desperately fearing them.
It's admirable to want to serve our country and I think the Naval Academy is a good school, I really do. I can see him absolutely loving it, actually, and growing by leaps and bounds in his natural gifts of excellence, motivation and leadership. But when I think of the years after the Academy, at least five, when his life will potentially be in peril, I want to vomit. I have a literal, visceral reaction that I've only ever experienced before when I have felt that someone is threatening my children.
That's it. That's what it feels like. It is that crazed Mama Bear response that rises up like the fiercest beast and protector, except that my son is walking toward what I am perceiving as the threat, by choice. He doesn't want my protection in this, and I have no idea what to do with these feelings.
My work over the past few months, my work now, and my work in the next year plus, is to learn to shift my way of thinking. His life is his life, his dreams are his dreams. I will have to put my trust in him to live his life as he feels called and led to do, and put my trust in the Academy (should he go there) to teach him well. And I will be calling on God with every fiber of my being to protect him and hold him in his care.
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